Consensus by Default? Interaction of Government and Opposition parties in the committees of the German Bundestag. | Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung

Bernhard Miller, Christian Stecker
Consensus by Default? Interaction of Government and Opposition parties in the committees of the German Bundestag.

German Politics, 2008: 17, Heft 3, S. 305-322
ISSN: 0964-4008

Consensus implies accommodating opposition. In the parliamentary process evidence on the interaction of opposition and governing parties is sketchy and theoretical approaches are manifold and ambivalent. Most prominently, there are contradicting hypotheses about the role of parliamentary committees in this interaction.
While some authors consider committees as arenas for opposition influence and consensus others regard them as an apex of majoritarian dominance only. We argue that behavioural patterns in committees do not follow a static majoritarian or consensual pattern but a dynamic one which varies with context.
This paper elaborates this argument with regard to the committees of the German Bundestag. Based on novel data we show that different majority constellations in the Bundesrat induce different behavioural patterns in Bundestag committees. Under an opposition-controlled Bundesrat and consent bills decision-making in committees follows a more consensual approach.