Amending the Slovak Parliamentary Rules of Procedure: Effective Changes or the Government’s Weapon against the Opposition?Katarína Chovancová
Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic
Parliament is considered one of the most important institutions in representative democracies. However, Rules of Procedure as institutional regulation of its activity have been rarely analysed. This paper aims to fill this gap by conducting an analysis of amending the Rules of Procedure of the Slovak legislature in the period 1998–2016, almost its entire existence. The analysis not only covers passed amendments but also looks at proposed but unpassed ones. The main assumption is that through changing the parliamentary rules, the parliament adapts itself to specific trends. These are identified in the paper, as well as the main categories the proposed amendments concentrated on, distinguishing between redistributive and effective amendments. One of the key findings of the paper is that it is not the government that dominates the process of proposing amendments to the parliamentary rules. On the other hand, when we look at passed amendments only, the government is, then, the dominant actor. The assumption that the amendments of the Rules of Procedure are primarily of a redistributive character was not verified. Despite the fact that amending these rules may be used by the governmental majority to redistribute the power in the Slovak parliament, in practise, such behaviour is rather infrequent and cannot be described as the government’s weapon against the opposition.
Slovakia; parliament; institutions; Rules of Procedure; government; opposition
University of Pardubice, Pardubice 2, Czech Republic
The paper analyses the current position of the welfare state and how it is reflected in the recent literature. It criticizes contributions that try to advocate the welfare state as a hallmark of European civilization, as they lack the proper analytical method to do so. It proposes an original approach that reveals a structural analogy that exists between the welfare state and the modern sovereign state. In a short historical survey, it demonstrates that during the process of its formation, the modern state gained structural elements that on one hand created a foundation for its later transformation into the welfare state, but on the other hand became a source of deep distrust. As this distrust also influenced the development of the post-war welfare system, the entire project eventually became vulnerable to ideological criticism. The paper shows that today’s condemnations of the welfare state for its alleged non-affordability are but an echo of an older ideological – populist and liberal – distrust of the state itself. Finally, the paper attempts to argue in favour of both the modern sovereign state and the welfare state by developing an argument for their de facto existence and usefulness and showing the fundamental fallacy of the counter-arguments of its critics.
welfare state; sovereign state; Bismarck; Beveridge; social policy
Peer-reviewing in the World Trade Organization: The Activity of States in the Trade Policy Review MechanismJan Karlas and Michal Parízek
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
This paper offers the first comprehensive quantitative explanatory study of the World Trade Organization (WTO) member states’ activity in the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM), the WTO’s central monitoring instrument. We analyze both the written questions submitted and the oral declarations delivered by the WTO members in all 95 trade policy reviews in the six-year period of 2009–2014. Descriptively, we find that the European Union and the United States are the most active members, but that the so-called ‘rising’ powers – namely China, Brazil, and India – very closely follow. In addition, almost the entire membership is involved in reviewing activity, at least to some extent. The explanatory results reveal that activity in the TPRM is strongly associated with a country’s market size. However, the member states’ overall aggregate membership in international organizations plays an almost equally important role.
Trade Policy Review Mechanism; World Trade Organization; reviewing; activity; monitoring; member states
Western Sydney University, Australia
In the year 2017, a new political party entered Germany’s parliament called ‘Alternative for Germany’ or AfD. Mainstream media labels the party far right, radical-right, right wing, national-conservative, populist, etc. Despite this, the AfD has tendencies towards Nazism. Nine books published between 2016 and 2018 examine the stratospheric rise of the AfD, founded in 2013. The review starts with a conservative view that examines ‘what the AfD wants.’ The next book discusses the ‘AfD-Pegida’ link. Pegida is the AfD’s East-German and mostly Dresden-based street-fighting movement. The third book presents arguments on the AfD from across Germany’s political spectrum. This leads to a book written as a ‘letter to AfD voters’. The book outlines many inconstancies found in the AfD’s party programme and its public announcements. Since the AfD claims to protect the occident, Europe and Germany in particular against hordes of Muslims and the Islamic religion, these issues are discussed in the next book. A quick look at the ideological background of the AfD points to an analysis of the party’s relationship with the media. The final two books show how the AfD seeks to conquer Germany’s political centre, based on a wealth of empirical data. Overall, the nine books provide one of the first comprehensive examinations of Germany’s new radical-right party drawn from recent German language books.
Germany; political parties; radical-right; Nazi; AfD; Alternative for Germany. A Review Essay of Nine Recent German-Language Books