Chapter 5 - Legislative Branch
Chapter 5 - Legislative Branch Pols 328
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Abby Kienle on Tuesday May 10, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to Pols 328 at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo taught by Professor Arceneaux in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see Politics of Developing Nations in Political Science at California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo.
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Date Created: 05/10/16
Chapter 5- Legislative Branch Parliament vs. Congress o Labels indicate whether the legislature sits in the presidential or parliamentary system Parliaments are focused on the formation and preservation of government and do not enter the lawmaking process until the very end to vote Members of parliaments answer to their party leadership who they typically depend on for reelection Congresses take the field at the very start of lawmaking and continue their involvement until the very end Ideal Congress is equipped with more capable specialized committees than parliaments Members of congress answer to their constituencies and depend on them for reelections Constituency service causes members of Congress to take interest in their own local issues o Sources of conflict differ Parliament Structured strictly across par Congress ty lines Considered "orderly" Congressional members can easily reach across party lines to negotiate with party leaders, etc. Causes conflict Considered "disorderly" o Congress has been the norm in Latin America with the exception of Chile and Peru Chile parliamentary and Peru semi-presidential Representation o Representative function refers to how well Congress speaks, reacts, answers, corresponds with society A representative government is connected to society Critical to Congress as it lays the foundation for legitimacy Electoral system can create disproportionality o Controversy over how we should represent the people Delegate model: answer directly to the interests of the people and mirror their concerns Trustee model: delegates should take into account how long-term, national interests might warrant decisions that veer from the interests of their constituencies o Latin America has struggled with legitimate representation in the past Voting restrictions such as literacy requirements, the exclusion of women and the indigenous, taxes, etc. have deterred political participation and representation Deep socioeconomic unrest has also hindered legit representation Politics of patronage: the use of state resources to reward followers and punish opponents Characterized almost every party in Latin America "partyarchies" In the 1980s deep unrested opened political space up for women and indigenous peoples Quotas were put in place for women to be represented in congress Have helped many LA countries gain legitimate representation for women, but some still fall behind as the quotas have no penalties If not reached, leading many countries to bypass it Women have been known to use caucus groups to bypass partisan politics Unite women from different parties Indigenous groups still struggle with representation Meager growth still considered significant comparatively speaking to historical numbers Indigenous have sought to set up their own political parties rather than work through caucuses to ensure representation Arguments that these parties may cause fragmentation in the party system Other studies show that these parties create enthusiasm and more voter turnout from previous indigenous nonvoters Lawmaking o Legislatures have the creation of law as a central function Deliberative bodies Even minority parties have at least the occasion to express themselves in debate and gain a fair chance to persuade o Initiation How does a bill become a law? First stage involves the power of initiative In some LA countries, presidents have initiative power Several countries allow citizens to introduce bills through signature campaigns Some grant initiative power to courts or autonomous public agencies Debate After a bill is introduced, the president of the chamber typically sends it to an editing board to ensure that it is properly organized to facilitate debates Plenary session: session with all members of congress Held after a first reading First reading is used to allow general comments or questions about the bill but no amendments may be made After this the bill is sent to committee Committees Can be temporary or permanent Temporary committees usually focus on specific issues Committees usually fall short of their coverage in Latin America Bills are under most careful scrutiny in committees Committees can be very powerful actors in Congress They have more time to refashion bills than other members of congress Can also call hearings and experts to receive testimonials about a bill Also call on the constitutional tribunal to determine the legality of the law Committee Reports provide valuable information to other members on how to vote Committees exert agenda setting power through these reports Limitations Discharge petition: the plenary can demand bill to move form committee to a vote Key element to legislature Latin America has weak committee systems for various reasons Lack of money = lack of knowledge Do not have enough funds for staff and expert testimonials Institutional variations between countries Electoral turnover, party system fragmentation , weak parties Plenary After committee, the bill moves to plenary Enters phases of debate General debate: grants deputies two opportunities to speak for ten minutes on why they oppose or endorse the bill Specific debate: debate of the bill article by article that allows deputies to petition to modify, add, or eliminate portions of bills Final vote: members can vote in favor, against, or abstain Do not need all members there to vote Only a quorum: half the membership plus one Even if a motion passes in plenary, if 5 deputies question its resolution, it is sent to the Court of Constitutionality which has 60 days to review it and decide on its constitutionality After this, if passed, the President has 15 days to sign or veto the law o Oversight Vertical accountability: interaction among independent branches of government From the government to its citizenry Horizontal accountability: cooperation built in the system as congress makes laws, executive executes laws, and judiciaries adjudicate laws Branches can also question, punish, or remove members of each other Checks and balances Direct Oversight Reports and hearings serve as non-punitive checks wielded by Congress over individual government agencies in the bureaucracy Reports are usually legally mandated Hearings are more public and less common Latin American legislatures can use interpellation to get at the executive The right to question executive branch officials before plenary Can be for purely political reasons Impeachment can also be done The right to call a hearing for a trail for the chief of the executive Impeachments have become common in times of political crisis in Latin America Indirect Oversight Partisanship can undercut the will to supervise If the President's party controls congress, there will obviously be less oversight To combat this, the government created formal, autonomous, agencies to oversee executive action Ideally technocratic Audit agencies: Supervise the allocation of public funds as specified in the annual budget Usually dependent on legislature, but in some countries are formally independent Have constitutional guarantees of independence, access to financial info, and budgetary independence Ombudsman: another agency Offers citizens a channel to initiate investigations of unlawful behavior by public officials Contributes to vertical accountability Drafts resolutions in 2 forms Individual complaint form a citizen Broader concern Can also help individuals suing the state in initiating court action or giving classes on individual rights defense Lacks compelling power but exerts a certain form of "moral power" Supportive role played by ombudsman can be crucial to the development in trust in government and long term democratic consolidation o Education Legislatures can play an educational role as they educate the public and inform voters on national political matters Debates and public hearings are the best outlets for this Remedy to shortcomings is for the institution as a whole to take on the role of civic education about the legislature and government Inter-Parliamentary Union used internet resources to create websites that do so o Legislative Structure Many factors that determine legislative structure Size Larger size of chambers / houses allows for the development of socialization in certain issue areas and a greater range of the country’s population to be developed Smaller sizes allow more for a more intimate, consensual environment Population plays a major role in legislative size, it is not necessarily a deliberate choice Sessions When, how long, and how often a legislature meets matters More frequent and longer sessions allows for more bills to be brought to the floor to vote Some can convene under emergency circumstances but are only limited to debate on the issues that prompted the emergency program Term Lengths Legislatures also vary in term lengths Some say shorter lengths ensure responsiveness to the electorate while some say they impede the ability for deputies to gain expertise in their political field Alternates In Latin America, laws require that there be an "alternate" (suplente) candidate that is presented by each party should the proprietary candidate resign or be removed from office for any reason Political side effects Opens the door for negotiations between parties, bribes and deals Facilitates the movement of legislatures to the executive, further showing weak separation of powers Opens the door to subversion Bypassing gender quotas by assigning female candidates as alternates o Bicameralism Refers to the use of two representative chambers to fulfill the legislative role Most Latin American countries have a bicameral legislature Proponents say the bicameralism: Allows differing interests to be represented Ex: Britain; House of Lords represents nobility interests while House of Commons represents common interests Increases the quality of legislation The thought that another body will review your work / decisions on a bill brings with it an inclination to be more diligent Senate acts as a "council of elders" Usually smaller with more expertise and longer terms than lower houses Creates a more diplomatic body Symmetrical vs. Asymmetrical Symmetrical bicameralism grants equal powers to both houses Asymmetrical tilts towards one house or the other Incongruent vs. congruent Congruent systems shun the "council of elders" model and instead create chambers that are more similar to each other Strong bicameralism = symmetrical and incongruent Chambers answer to different constituencies and contend on rather equal terms Most LA Congresses are symmetrical but vary in congruency How to resolve intercameral differences Most Latin American countries employ the navette model Calls for bills to originate in one house and be sent to the other; then be "shuttled" back and forth to work out differences Initiating chamber and reviewing chamber are distinguished in this model The initiating chamber has the advantage of creating a stopping rule; making the bill come to a vote after shuttles back and forth Navette helps to balance power between the chambers because either house can be the initiator Others use Conference Committees Creates symmetry bc although each chamber can send as many members as they please, each chamber receives only one vote Bolivia and Uruguay use joint sessions to resolve issues
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