Strengthening Parliaments

3-4 December, 2015
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a conference organised by

PADEMIA / Centre d'études européennes / LIEPP

December 3-4, 2015

Salle Goguel

Sciences Po , 27 rue Saint Guillaume, 75007 Paris

Conference Summary:

During the two day conference, 25 scholars from all across Europe discussed the politics, features and evaluation of institutional reforms aimes at strengthening parliaments. Of many discussed topics were: Why do those reforms tend to be more numerous all around Europe? How are they developed, realized and implemented? And, what are their consequences? Case studies from many countries (Iceland, Israel, Spain, Finland, UK, France...) made clear that beyond idiosyncratic features, institutional engineering reforms face similar challenges and processes, especially the fitness between the reforms and good practices on the one hand, and MPs' individual interests on the other. Institutional development paths also matter for adopting successfully parliamentary reforms. In the end, the great interest of the workshop confirms that the issue of reforms in parliament and institutional engineering tend to be increasingly central to the attention of the scientific community.

Conference theme:

Institutional Engineering refers to various changes in the organizational rules established with a precise aim. In the case of parliaments and parliamentary democracy, institutional engineering therefore accounts for the efforts made in order to strengthen parliaments. In most cases, the change of rules takes place at a constitutional level through amendments to the Constitution but it can also be realized at a lower stage such as ordinary laws or standing orders.

The workshop originates from the observation that many of recent or on-going institutional engineering reforms officially aim at empowering, if not restoring, parliaments within their institutional system. This has not always been the case. Throughout the 20th century, many constitutional changes aimed at strengthening the executive power decisional capacity by implementing various ways of rationalizing parliaments. Converging examples from the control over military operations to the budgetary powers of the parliament indicate that this is seemingly no longer the case. In developed democracies but also elsewhere, many institutional reforms officially aim at deepening parliamentary democracies. Yet, other institutional reforms can be driven by other aims, for instance controlling budgetary deficits, adapting to a country’s participation to regional organizations, strengthening judicial review or transparency, implementing better regulation agendas, etc. The multiplicity of agendas for institutional reforms inevitably raises the issue of the coherence and compatibility between them.

The workshop addresses classical questions to that trend: ‘why and how?’ ‘so what?’

1. With the ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ issues, we aim at entering into the politics of institutional engineering. Why are constitutional or standing orders reforms affecting legislatures launched? In which political contexts? Are those reforms more likely when national parliaments are comparatively weaker? What is the input provided by regional organizations, international treaties and transnational organizations from the OECD to the Inter-Parliamentary Union?

The point also requires to address the specific role played individually and collectively by MPs in the process. Are agendas for institutional reforms decided thanks to their pressure and initiatives? Or are they imposed by external actors such as ministers, judges, legal scholars, etc.?

2. The workshop also holds the ambition to assess the effects of institutional engineering. At the end of day, does changing the rules really impact on the legislatures’ role? We know that there could be many factors contributing to limit or cancel the effects of such reforms: the weight of inherited institutional routines, the lack of relevance of an institutional agenda from an MP interest based perspective, the lacking fit of institutional transfers given domestic idiosyncrasies, etc. Many claims can be put for explaining the absence of change. Yet, there are cases where a change of rules does impact on political behavior and even policy outputs even if it is sometimes the case indirectly or unexpectedly. Why do some reforms succeed and others not? Does their impact depend on the quality of the ‘engineer’ or on the capacity of MPs to adapt?

The evaluation of institutional engineering reforms can also be made from the perspective of the legislatures’ influence. Given the multiplicity of the official aims addressed by the reforms, and their possible inconsistency, which kind of reforms - or which mixture – eventually contributes to empower legislatures? Beyond the assessment of a specific case, is institutional engineering able to fight back against the centennial trend of domination of the executive power?

ConvenersSelma Bendjaballah, Olivier Rozenberg, Guillaume Tusseau.


Strategic Voting in Two-vote Elections

12 March
Seminar "Evaluation of Democracy"
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Strategic Voting in Two-vote Elections

Thursday 12 March 2015


Salle D605

Sciences Po, 199 rue bd St. Germain, 75007 Paris

Free entrance with limited seating available

Please register here to confirm your attendance

Seminar organised by Nicolas Sauger and Emiliano Grossman within the Research Group «Evaluation of Democracy».

The political scientist, Philipp Harfst (Universität Greifswald Institut für Politik) is visiting Sciences Po CEE/LIEPP for March 2015 and will present the results of his research on strategic voting in two-vote elections. Professor Harfst studies the effects of different electoral rules on electoral behaviour, analysing the impact of two-vote elections on strategic voting. Following his presentation, his results will be discussed by Nicolas Sauger (CEE/LIEPP) and Emiliano Grossman (CEE/LIEPP).

Philipp Harfst

Philipp Harfst
Junior Professor of Political Science, University of Greifswald

« Strategic Voting in Two-vote Elections »


Discussion by:

Nicolas Sauger
Associate Professor and Co-Director of the LIEPP «Evaluation of Democracy» Research Group (Sciences Po, CEE/LIEPP)

Emiliano Grossman
Associate Professor and Co-Director of the LIEPP «Evaluation of Democracy» Research Group (Sciences Po, CEE/LIEPP)





FacSem, J.Rovny, Oct 16

Communism, Federalism & Ethnic Minorities
  • Jan_RovnyJan_Rovny

Communism, Federalism and Ethnic Minorities: Explaining Party Competition Patterns in Eastern Europe


Thursday, 16th of October, 2014 - 12:30-14:30

Salle du Conseil

Sciences Po, 13 rue de l'Université, 75007 Paris


Jan Rovny, Assistant Professor in Political Science at LIEPP and CEE participates in the next FacSem (Faculty Seminar). He presents his recently published work on: "Communism, Federalism and Ethnic Minorities: Explaining Party Competition Patterns in Eastern Europe".

"Scholarship on East European politics expects that party competition in the region is determined by various communist legacies, juxtaposing state-centric authoritarianism to a liberal market economy. Recent empirical evidence, however, uncovers significant variance of party competition patterns across East European countries. To explain this variance, this article argues that an interaction between communist institutional framework and partisan responses to ethnic minorities determines party competition structure in the region. While experience with communist federalism determines partisan affinities with ethnic minorities, tolerance or support for ethnic minorities leads the political actors associated with those minorities to general socially liberal positions. Consequently—and contrary to received knowledge—ethnic politics influence the ideological content of party competition and structure party systems in Eastern Europe."

If interested, you should register by writing to

During this FacSem Ettore Recchi, professor in sociology and researcher at the OSC, also presents his work on the following subject: "Europe as a Transnational Social Space".


- Sciences Po events webpage

The Invisible and the Immeasurable

26-27th june, Paris IAS
  • The_invisible_the_immeasurableThe_invisible_the_immeasurable

The Invisible and the Immeasurable: Towards Alternative Indicators of Corruption

June 26th and 27th, 2014
At the Paris Institude of Advanced Studies - 17 Quai d'Anjou, 75004 Paris

Interdisciplinary Colloquium organized by Alena Ledeneva, fellow at the Paris IAS  (2013-2014)  and Nicolas Sauger (Science Po - CEE, LIEPP)

Compulsory registration on the Paris IAS website


The aim of the colloquium is to explore how to move beyond the existing paradigms of measuring corruption. One unintended consequence of the ‘informalisation’ of global economy (Sassen) is that the existing indicators of performance and change are becoming less effective. In the studies of corruption, the contemporary global corruption paradigm (GCP) with its governance indicators and multiple indices seems to have exhausted its measurement and policy potential. On the one hand, it has been dubbed as a ‘magnificent policy failure’ (Rothstein) due to its incapacity to achieve its proclaimed goal –to reduce corruption all over the world. On the other hand, the present paradigm has turned unequipped to handle the ‘globalisation’ of corruption practices, as majority of indices are tied to the countries, and to differentiate between cultural contexts, assuming that corruption would be the same everywhere. The cross-cutting issue in many disciplines is: how to factor culture dynamics into risk analysis in general, and how to measure the impact of informality in particular. The key empirical puzzle is whether it is possible to measure the immeasurable without formalising it. The workshop will focus on the following questions :

  • Comparing the incomparable: We aim to move beyond the existing paradigms of measuring corruption and investigate how to create culture sensitive next generation indicators that would be compatible with existing transnational surveys.
    Alena Ledeneva, Institute d’Etudes Anvancees de Paris, France and Nicolas Sauger, Sciences Po/CEE-LIEPP, France
  • Corruption and political trust: Which questions about informal and invisible practices could/should be included in general social or political surveys?
    Paul Heywood, University of Nottingham, UK, Monika Bauhr, The Quality of Government Institute, Sweden, and Allan Sikk, UCL, UK
  • Practical norms: We search for the bottom-up, user-friendly indicators for informal practices, with focus on strength rather than frequency of relationships and practical norms rather than perceptions.
    Thomas Cantens, World Customs Organization, Roxana Bratu, UCL, UK and Danica Mijovic-Prelec, MIT, US
  • Ambivalence of corruption: We focus on how to construct indicators that would reflect cultural differences and ambivalent attitudes towards corruption.
    Richard Rose, U. of Strathclyde, UK, Elena Panfilova, Transparency International – Russia and Joy Saunders, Integrity Action
  • Norm reversal: Within the existing measurements, we aim to distinguish between indicators for the countries with systemic corruption – where corruption is a practical norm – from indicators for the countries where corruption is a deviation.
    Drazen Prelec, MIT, US, Catherine Fieschi, Counterpoint: Engaging Cultural Intelligence, UK and Tina Fordham, Citygroup, UK


- Paris IAS website
- programme of the colloquium (pdf)

Transparency in politics and the containment of corruption

Friday december 13th
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Transparency in politics
and the containment of corruption

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sciences Po

Room H101 - 28 rue des Saints Pères, 75007 Paris

Convenors: Emiliano Grossman, Eric Phélippeau & Nicolas Sauger


To register :



9h30 – 10h15

Panel 1 : Detecting and measuring corruption

- Alena Ledeneva, UniversityCollege, London : Measuring the immeasurable: obliquity and second-tier indicators

- Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, PSE, Ecole d’économie de Paris : Corruption in procurement and shadow campaign financing

10h30 – 11h30

Panel 2 : Regulations, anti-corruption agencies, and transparency

Présidence : Renaud Dehousse, CEE, Sciences Po

- Michael Koss , Institute for Political Science, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich : Party financing and corruption

- Quoc Anh Do, Sciences Po, Department of Economics : Corruption and its limits: an institutional perspective

- Eric Phélippeau, Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense, ISP : Enhancing transparency. French political finance and disclosure regulations

11h45 – 12h30

Panel 3 : Corruption and public opinion

- Justin Fischer, Brunel University, London : Trust in institutions and corruption

- Pierre Lascoumes, CEE, Science Po : L’énigme démocratique de la tolérance à l’égard de la corruption

14h00 – 15h00

Panel 1 : Transparency of wealth and resources of political actors

Présidence Nicolas Sauger, CEE, Science Po

- Noëlle Lenoir, Déontologue de l’Assemblée nationale

- Gérard Davet , Le Monde

- Fabrice Lhomme , Le Monde

- David Gayou , Regards citoyens

- Benjamin Ooghe-Tabanou , Regards citoyens

15h15 – 16h15

Panel 2 : Registration of lobbies and regulation of conflicts of interest

Présidence : Emiliano Grosman , CEE, Science Po

- Anne-Marie Ducroux , Transparence international France 

- Myriam Savy , Transparence international France

16h30 – 17h30

Panel 3 : What role for the new Haute Autorité pour la transparence de la vie publique?

Présidence : Eric Phélippeau , Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense, ISP

- René Dosière , député

Lionel Benaiche, Secrétaire général du Service central de prévention de la corruption

- Luís de Sousa , University of Aveiro


The programme in English337.28 KB
Le programme en français253.89 KB