Committee Chairs and Legislative Review in Parliamentary Democracies

David Fortunato, Lanny W. Martin, Georg Vanberg

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Recent research on parliamentary institutions has demonstrated that legislatures featuring strong committees play an important role in shaping government policy. However, the impact of the legislators who lead these committees – committee chairs – is poorly understood. This study provides the first examination of whether the partisan control of committee chairs in parliamentary systems has a systematic impact on legislative scrutiny. The article argues that committee chairs can, in principle, use their significant agenda powers to serve two purposes: providing opposition parties with a greater ability to scrutinize government policy proposals, and enabling government parties to better police one another. Analyzing the legislative histories of 1,100 government bills in three parliamentary democracies, the study finds that control of committee chairs significantly strengthens the ability of opposition parties to engage in legislative review. The analysis also suggests that government parties’ ability to monitor their coalition allies does not depend on control of committee chairs.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of Political Science
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)785-797
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Coalition politics
  • Committees
  • Legislative organization
  • Political institutions

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