The number of democracies in the world today is higher than in any other time. The majority of these democracies adopt a parliamentary constitution, that is, one that is based on assembly confidence. Assembly confidence regimes are those in which governments, in order to come to and stay in power, must be at least tolerated by a legislative majority. They can be divided into cases of negative and positive parliamentarism. In stark contrast with scholarship on varieties of presidentialism, the research literature on the evolution and consequences of the two forms of parliamentarism is surprisingly sparse and rudimentary.
With this in mind, our goal was to develop fully the distinction between negative and positive parliamentarism and clarify its institutional implications (Rasch, Martin & Cheibub 2015); to trace the origins of the institutions associated with negative and positive parliamentarism (Cheibub, Martin & Rasch 2015); and to study their consequences for the way parliamentary governments operate in an ever more demanding, complex, and global policy environment (e.g. Rickard 2018). The project provides the first truly intertemporal comparative study of the design and consequences of varieties of parliamentarism.
The notion of positive and negative parliamentarism has been invoked primarily to account for differences in the government formation process and the type of government (minority or majority) that result from it. We reject the simplicity of this usage, instead arguing that the distinction between positive and negative parliamentarism is systemic and matters not only for the process of government formation and termination, but also for several important aspects of the operation of the government during its existence.
More information on 73 publications from the project, and project conferences and workshops, can be found on the project website on University of Oslo.
This project aims to fill a lacuna in the literature by examining the origins and consequences of the institutions of positive and negative parliamentarism. In positive parliamentarism, a majority is required to explicitly express its support for the gove rnment; in negative parliamentarism such an explicit expression of majority support is not required. Positive parliamentarism is characterized by a variety of instruments, related to both the making and breaking of governments and their governing capacity . We believe the distinction between the two regimes is crucial for understanding the way they operate. Yet, what we know about them is surprisingly sparse and rudimentary. Given that most democracies in the world have adopted some form of parliamentary i nstitutions, understanding the consequences of positive and negative parliamentary institutions is both theoretically and practically important. The goals of this project are: (1) to develop conceptually the distinction between positive and negative parli amentarism; (2) to provide an historical account of the emergence of parliamentary institutions, particularly those associated with positive parliamentarism; (3) to generate a comprehensive data set of parliamentary institutions for all countries in the; (4) to examine the impact of positive parliamentary institutions on the type and duration of government; the government's legislative capacity; coalition management; and the government's ability to respond to deep economic crises, such as the one that now afflicts Europe. The project departs from existing studies in that it provides a new conceptualization of parliamentary regimes; is based on cases that include but go far beyond Western Europe; and generates a complete database of historical and contempo rary institutions. Because this database fills an important information gap, we expect it will be widely used by scholars of comparative politics, political history, political economy and international relations.