Doctoral Dissertation Research in Political Science: Turning Majorities into Minorities-Heresthetical Rhetoric of Parliamentary Oppositions

  • Monroe, Burt (PI)
  • Tzelgov, Eitan E. (CoPI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


How do opposition parties in Parliamentary democracies challenge the majority coalition? What do legislative political losers do in order to turn the tables and become winners? This research project uses legislative speech in parliamentary democracies as quantitative data, in order to analyze the ways in which opposition parties try to manipulate the dimensions of the legislative agenda, and thus split the majority coalition. The investigator assumes that opposition parties use speech strategically, i.e., they choose to address issues that might have high potential of splitting the majority. The probability of splitting the majority coalition increases when dormant issues that are not highly correlated with the dominant ideological dimension become more salient, and when the priorities of coalition members (parties, factions, legislators) with regard to these are diverse.

This model is tested using speech data from three democratic parliamentary legislatures: The British, the Israeli, and the Hungarian. The investigator focuses on important periods in the political histories of these countries-the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the mid 1990's, the process leading to the return of the Labor party under Tony Blair to power in the UK after 18 years of Conservative rule, and the era following the democratization in Hungary. The findings will thus help explain legislative dynamics under different institutions and historical trajectories, and will have implications for a variety of parliamentary democracies.

The analysis would offer insights into the 'black box' of legislative democratic politics, by shedding light on an underdeveloped literature of parliamentary activity: given the fact that the parliamentary opposition is numerically and institutionally disadvantaged, what do the losers do to become winners? This question is central to our understanding of democratic institutions. In addition, the research introduces a novel methodology to operationalize and measure legislative opposition strategy. Finally, data sets, including the rhetorical data, and the findings will become available for further research.

Effective start/end date9/1/108/31/13


  • National Science Foundation: $7,665.00


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