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The Role and Dynamics of Parliamentary Questions in Democratic and Non-Democratic Regimes: the Case of Hungary

Europe (Central and Eastern)
Comparative Politics
Democracy
Parliaments
Policy Change
Political Regime
Csaba Molnár
Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Csaba Molnár
Centre for Social Sciences, Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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Abstract

A new research area of the policy agenda is the comparison of democratic and non-democratic regimes (see Comparative Agendas Project). The dynamics of policy changes present the ability of regimes to adapt to the changing socio-economical environment. In this paper I examine the most important kind of parliamentary questions of the Hungarian polity: the interpellations. I examine the function and policy agenda of interpellations based on the theory of punctuated equilibrium in Hungary. I compare the dynamics of the non-democratic regime from 1949 to 1990 to the democratic one from 1990. I test the hypotheses of Baumgartner et al reflecting to ‘institutional efficiency’ and ‘informational advantage’. My main finding is that the policy agenda’ equilibrium during the non-democratic period is much more punctuated than it is during the democratic one. This supports the thesis that MPs working in a freer democratic regime can collect information on the population faster and more effectively than the ones in a non-democratic regime. And it also means that the more centralised activity of MPs in a non-democratic polity cannot compensate the immanent advantage of democracies in collecting information.