Jorge M. Fernandes, Marc Debus, Hanna Bäck
Unpacking the politics of legislative debates

European Journal of Political Research, 2021: 60, issue 4, pp. 1032-1045
ISSN: 1475-6765 (online)

Legislative debates are a thriving field in comparative politics. They make representation work by offering legislators the opportunity to take the floor and represent their constituents. In this paper, we review the key theoretical concepts and empirical findings in a maturing field. We begin by addressing what legislative debates are and why we should study them to learn about inter‐ and intra‐party politics. Next, we look at the contributions springing from Proksch and Slapin's groundbreaking model. In so doing, our review suggests that recent work extends the original model to include further dimensions of legislative debates. Third, we examine the role of legislative debates as mechanisms of representation, focusing on gender. Four, we examine the challenges of the comparative analysis of legislative debates. Finally, we map the road ahead by discussing four avenues of future research and some key questions that remain unanswered.