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Emmy Noether Group: The Foreign Relations of National Legislatures

Legislatures are regarded as the big institutional losers of internationalization. Parliamentary representation and control - main dimensions of democratic legitimacy - have traditionally been rare and weak at the international level. Parliaments became increasingly marginalized, mostly limiting their international tasks to the (ex-post) ratification of international agreements and ex-post scrutiny. This “decline of parliament” was a major component of the “democratic deficit” diagnosis throughout the 1990s and 2000s.

Contrary to this “de-parliamentarization”, we can observe that national legislatures increased their international activities to regain power vis-à-vis their government. This elevated international activity is not only observable for legislatures in democratic regimes, but throughout the world, including parliaments in anocratic and autocratic regimes. However, comprehensive theoretical accounts as well as systematic empirical analyses about the causes and consequences of parliamentary foreign relations are largely missing so far. We do not have systematic evidence on parliaments’ goals and incentives in establishing parliamentary foreign relations, that is, do they seek to gain information in order to control the executive, or to socialize and learn from likeminded MPs, or do they aim to export certain values? Moreover, we do not know whether these relations have any effect on international or domestic outcomes?

The goal of the research group is to study the determinants of parliamentary foreign relations for all national legislatures (causes) and identify the (feedback) effects of these relations on domestic and international politics (consequences).The project seeks to apply a classical principal-agent framework to explain the variance in incentives for democratic and non-democratic regimes to account for their differences in selecting foreign partners. Whereas parliaments in democratic regimes are assumed to control the specific international activities of their governments and select their partner countries for foreign exchange accordingly, parliaments in non-democratic regimes are expected have different incentives like democratization. In a second step, the project theoretically and empirically investigates whether the concrete patterns of parliamentary foreign relations have an effect on international outcomes like democratization and treaty ratification as well as domestic effects like scrutiny and communication behavior in parliament.

The research project addresses the above mentioned questions within a mixed-methods design. First, a global quantitative part especially entails the complete collection of bilateral and multilateral parliamentary foreign relations between 1990-2020, and second a case study part, which disentangles the complexities of international parliamentary activity on a micro (MP) and meso (party) level for six selected legislatures.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

Malang, Thomas and Veronika Ohliger (accepted): Voting in the Shadow of Russian Aggression. Evidence from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe 2012-2016, The Journal of Legislative Studies.

Giesen, Michael and Thomas Malang (2022): Legislative Communities? Conceptualizing and Mapping International Parliamentary Relations, Journal of International Relations and Development, online first, 1-33.

Malang, Thomas and Philip Leifeld (2021): The Latent Diffusion Network among National Parliaments in the Early Warning System of the European Union, Journal of Common Market Studies 59(4), 873-890

Malang, Thomas (2019): Why National Parliamentarians Join International Organizations, The Review of International Organizations 14(3), 407-430.

Malang, Thomas, Laurence Brandenberger and Philip Leifeld (2019): Networks and Social Influence in European Legislative Politics, British Journal of Political Science 49(4), 1475-1498.

Osei, Anja and Thomas Malang (2018): Party, Ethnicity, or Region? Determinants of Informal Political Exchange in the Parliament of Ghana, Party Politics 24(4), pp. 410-421.

Friends with Benefits. Explaining Global Parliamentary Exchange Patterns.

Why do Legislators criticize China? Making sense of International Legislative Networks.

Differentiated Integration and EU Decision-Making

The direction, speed, depth, and breadth of further European integration (EI) seem to be more contested than ever. Especially the phenomenon that EU legislation is not applicable in all EU countries - the definition of differentiated integration (DI) – is a contemporary functional answer to the heterogeneous integration preferences of member states. My research interest lies in the combination of integration and decision-making theories to explain these differentiations. I pursue a research project based on previous data collection efforts by the teams of Katharina Holzinger and Frank Schimmelfennig on secondary law differentiation in the EU. So far, research on DI generally assumes that domestic conditions can explain the level of realized differentiation. These factors mainly concern national state capacity, economic interests, and national sovereignty concerns. These studies, however, lack a clear distinction between preferences for obtaining a differentiation from EU and the power to realize it. Do states always want differentiations or is it enforced by other members states (MS) or the Commission that want to proceed? Do states always get a differentiation if they desire one? Are there factors that can explain the variance of these two dimensions? Together with Katharina Holzinger, I try to close this research gap by disentangling these two driving forces for differentiation in Common Agriculture Policy. Furthermore, I am interested in the network behavior of member states in negotiating DIs. My argument here is that heterogeneous actor constellations make it more likely that a group of states gets a DI.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

Malang, Thomas and Dominik Schraff (accepted): How Differentiated Integration Shapes the Constraining Dissensus, Journal of European Public Policy

2020 The Political Economy of Differentiated Integration. The Case of Common Agricultural Policy, The Review of International Organizations 15(3), 741-766, (with Katharina Holzinger).

2017: Opting out from European Union Legislation: the Differentiation of Secondary Law, Journal of European Public Policy, (with Thomas Duttle, Katharina Holzinger, Thomas Schäubli, Frank Schimmelfennig and Thomas Winzen).

2014: Structure, Capacity, or Power? Explaining Salience in European Decision-Making, Journal of Common Market Studies 52(3), pp. 616-631, (with Dirk Leuffen and Sebastion Wörle).

Collective Action in Differentation: Patterns and Explanations (with K. Holzinger).

Public Opinion Formation and Responsiveness in the Process of European Integration

Based on my dissertation that analyzed the temporal preferences of EU citizens on the speed of European integration, I pursue several follow-up questions that focus on the procedural component of the EU. My general research interest lies in the theory-building and measurement of the dynamic nature of the EU. Starting from the observation that the EU is – compared to stable nation states - still a “polity in the making”, a first step to capture these dynamics is the categorization  of integration events (history-making decisions, secondary law output, enlargement, etc.) to answer the question which ones the public really perceives as the pulse of Ei. In a second step, I investigate the connection between the public’s perceived speed of European Integration and the desired one. Can we observe thermostatic adjustment, meaning that a faster perceived speed leads to a slower desired speed? Are crisis perceived as accelerators or decelerators of Ei and do citizens desire faster integration during crisis or rather an integration stop? Eventually these thoughts lead to and complement my research on DI because in a third step, I investigate whether we can observe a connection between public opinion tending towards less desired speed of Ei and a government’s desire to differentiation.

Publications and Working Papers of the project:

(2017): Better = Faster? Explaining the Desired Speed of European Integration, Journal of European Integration, 39(1), 17-31.

(2023): Can the Social Dimension of Time Contribute to Explain the Public Evaluation of Political Change?  The Case of European Integration,  International Journal of Comparative Sociology 64(1), 57-76.

Does the Public Feel the Beat? Explaining the Perception and Evaluation of European Integration.

Fast and Furious?  Countries' temporal preferences regarding the implementation of EU law (with L. Schaffer).