PhD in Political Studies, 2007
University of Milan
Degree in International and Diplomatic Sciences, 2003
University of Bologna (Forlì)
One of the functions of parliamentary questions in modern legislatures is to pressure executives to pay attention to specific issues. But can these questions effectively influence executive decisions? There is surprisingly little empirical research in this area. Adopting an agenda-setting perspective, this article examines the extent to which issue attention in oral parliamentary questions influences the issues addressed in the weekly meetings of the Council of Ministers in three countries (Belgium, France and Portugal). Our findings suggest that the agenda-setting power of parliaments vis-à-vis the executive is usually weak in the contexts studied here. In Belgium, we find evidence that the executive does pick up on issues debated in parliament but that the media seems to play a crucial role in focusing attention. These conclusions testify to the dominance of the executive power in many Western democracies. The findings also demonstrate that agenda-setting patterns are more complex than single-country studies often suggest, and that comparative research is the way forward.
This article asks whether and why, in a system lacking electoral incentives to cultivate personal votes, MPs might choose to signal to geographic constituents. It explores this question by analysing the number of written parliamentary questions submitted to the Portuguese parliament on two issues – unemployment and crime – between 2009 and 2015, and asking if MPs are more inclined to table questions on speciﬁc issues when their districts suffer particularly from related problems. The article ﬁnds evidence that constituency-level problem pressure does matter for the signalling activities of MPs, although policy specialization remains the main driver of their issue emphasis. This ﬁnding contributes new knowledge to the ongoing debate on the factors accounting for the representative relationship between MPs and constituents, by drawing attention to the importance of district-level problem pressure as one of the drivers of issue sponsorship in parliament.
This article investigates the relationship between economic inequality and legislative agendas. It argues that rising inequality makes agenda setting especially vulnerable to the influence of economic elites, and that elites use their influence to keep redistributive policies from receiving governmental attention. Empirical tests use data on public laws and bills introduced in the legislatures of five European countries between 1981 and 2012, and the United States between 1948 and 2015. As inequality becomes more acute, we observe a migration in legislative attention away from issues dealing with the social safety-net. These effects are more pronounced earlier in the policy process, which is consistent with the idea that elites can act as gatekeepers of legitimate policy ideas. These findings suggest that economic stratification shapes the policymaking debate in ways that make redistribution less likely.
Cabinets are the engine of policy change in parliamentary systems. Yet, we still know little about how cabinets micro-manage the content of their multifaceted agenda during their term in office. Drawing on the party and agenda-setting literature, this article addresses this gap by focusing on three main determinants of cabinet priorities: issue priorities in the electoral platforms of majority and opposition parties, and new and unforeseen problems as conveyed by the media. Our analysis reveals that (1) majority platforms have a stronger impact on the cabinet agenda than those of opposition parties, but this effect decreases as the legislative term progresses; (2) cabinet agendas do take into consideration opposition electoral priorities but only when the latter are expressed by mainstream competitors or when the media focus on them and (3) an externally imposed adjustment programme can also create the conditions for strengthening the congruence between electoral and cabinet agendas.
This is an R package, currently under development ( git repository), providing functions to access data from the Comparative Agendas Project. A prototype package was presented (slides here ) at the University of Amsterdam in 2018.
The Comparative Agendas Project (CAP) assembles and codes information on the policy processes of governments from around the world. For more information click here. I am currently Principal investigator in two national teams: