European Legislative Responses to International Terrorism (ELIT)

Research question/goal: 

How does international terrorism influence national legislation in Western democracies? Do the legislative responses to international terrorism change the relationship between collective security and individual freedom? This project investigated the scope and scale of legislative responses in Germany over the period 1995 to 2005, in which the danger of international terrorism reached a peak with the 9/11 attack. For the first time, we evaluated in a longitudinal quantitative manner, whether and to what extent international terrorism influenced German legislation in terms of the amount of legislative responses related to terror. Furthermore, we examined the empirical implications of four hypotheses which are considered to influence the probability for legislative responses to terror: the danger of international terrorism, Europeanization, policy distances on terror issues among governmental actors and relationship to the powers of national security agencies. For the identification of legislative responses to international terrorism we applied content analysis of the overall legislative texts - a labor intense procedure which differs from existing studies on legislative responses to international terrorism (see Epifanio 2011). Our procedure requires a computer-assisted analysis of legislative texts that is based on a dictionary comprising security- and freedom-related items. The computer-assisted item-based analysis identified 90 terror responses in the overall sample of 2291 legislative initiatives, which is about four per cent of all initiatives in the period of study. For these terror responses three of the four hypotheses are confirmed: a large number of terror victims (as a proxy for terror danger), a small distance of terror-related preferences among governmental actors and a relationship to the powers of national security agencies increases the probability for terror responses in Germany. Furthermore, our analysis rejects the relevance of a number of variables, which are often mentioned in the literature for the probability of legislative success, such as Europeanization, formal or party-oriented promoter of a legislative initiative, bicameral consent and cost implications do not matter for legislative responses to international terrorism.

Fact sheet

Thyssen Stiftung, MZES
2008 to 2011
Data Sources: 
computer-assisted analysis of legislative bills; event data
Geographic Space: 
Germany, United Kingdom