from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Example of modern parliamentarism: The German Bundestag

The technical term parliamentarism gathers those political systems in which an assembly of representatives of the people , e.g. B. Parliamentarians in a parliament , decide on the legislation . Parliamentarism is an important feature of the parliamentary system of government , in which the center of political decision-making powers lies with parliament, in that it also elects and dismisses the government, regardless of the form of government in question de jure .

Hans Kelsen defines parliamentarism as "the formation of the decisive state will through a collegial body that is democratically elected by the people on the basis of general and equal suffrage , according to the majority principle ."


In particular, the framework regulations, the organs and the processes are characteristic of the form and degree of parliamentarianism. In the term parliamentarism, it is above all the structural aspect that is decisive, through which the parliament achieves its capacity to act and can efficiently carry out its tasks.

In a democracy , members of parliament are directly elected by the people. In the demarchy , the members are determined by lot. They are known as members of parliament and are grouped together in parliamentary groups due to the same goals . Outside of the elections they can also rely on a political party ( party democracy ), of which they do not necessarily have to be a member. Furthermore, the work in committees is an area of ​​activity in the parliamentary everyday life of the MPs.

Parliamentarism is also the subject of numerous studies. Again and again characteristics of parliamentarism are presented in an international comparison. There are also parliaments over whose composition the people have no influence because sham elections take place. Parliaments can also be set up without any elections by a ruler or by social groups.


The theory of parliamentarism (as a subject area in particular in political science ) deals with the prerequisites, the structure and the consequences of parliamentarism , in which one deals with both normative and empirical-analytical aspects of the phenomenon.

The categories of parliamentarianism theory are typifications obtained by comparing existing and / or historical political systems , which can then be used to examine and criticize specific political systems. An example of this is the distinction between speech parliament and labor parliament that Max Weber had gained from the comparison of the parliament of the German Empire and the British House of Commons .

The theory of parliamentarism overlaps with the state and constitutional theory , since political systems to be designed in a parliamentary manner are traditionally states and the basic structures of a parliamentary system are laid down in their constitution . In the event that an actual or theoretical parliamentary system is designed democratically at the same time ( parliamentary democracy ), the theory of parliamentarism also has overlaps with the theory of democracy, for example in questions of representation . In contrast to democracy, state and constitutional theory, the theory of parliamentarism has so far been taught almost exclusively embedded in a larger context - mostly political theory and the history of ideas ; In other words, there are hardly any regular courses that explicitly deal with the theory of parliamentarism.

Positive parliamentarism is a term in political science that describes that a government in a parliamentary system requires the explicit consent of parliament (i.e. an investiture vote) in order to take office. Either only the heads of government have to face this vote (e.g. in the case of the Federal Chancellor election in Germany) or the entire government (e.g. Belgium).

Negative parliamentarism means the opposite. A government comes to power without the legitimation of parliament. However, it has the option of voting out this government as soon as certain conditions are met. Denmark and Norway could be mentioned as examples.

historical development


In the classic form of state doctrine of Aristotle of today's parliamentary system can be used as precursors (in the sense of representative democracy) possibly either the aristocracy or oligarchy be identified, since Aristotle as democracy only the form of direct democracy knows (which he faced skeptical) and in the a larger number of citizens participate directly in the political process. Consulting ( deliberation ) as a political principle characterizes Aristotle normative policy term, although quite (and from it even in popular government found), but this form is one of governing for him more oligarchic or the core of aristocratic rule, where small groups of citizens politics in small, design exclusive gatherings. Beyond political thought, however, the ancient popular assemblies cannot simply be taken as models for modern parliaments, since they were unfamiliar with the principle of representation and the individual citizen was considered politically competent in his capacity as such, which is more the modern conception of the division of labor in politics is strange.

Premodern roots

Today's parliamentarism, on the other hand, finds significant historical precursors in the medieval and early modern tradition of estates , a political institution of the European estates . Assemblies of estates developed in the late Middle Ages from irregular and informal gatherings of noble feudal lords ( feudal lords ) and their followers, their vassals (feudal takers), who served as instruments of monarchical rule. The European kings of the Middle Ages, such as the German emperor or king , had princes and dukes as vassals on whom their rule was based. From the meetings, e.g. B. the royal court days , which were held to discuss questions of tax payments, sovereignty or army succession , gradually developed formal meetings with regular, sometimes permanent meetings in the transition to modern times. At the same time, the names of such assemblies, some of which are known to be in use today, such as those of the " Landtag " or the " Reichstag " in Germany, arose .

In the course of the early modern period , for example, the princes of the German Empire in particular sent more and more envoys to the imperial assemblies and were represented by them. Last but not least , this certainly played a role in the development of the concept of representation . As in France, for example, in the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation , the assemblies of the estates increasingly developed into envoy congresses , with the German Reichstag also taking the important step towards a permanent assembly (the so-called "everlasting Reichstag"). This shows how the forms of modern parliamentarism were partly formed in the course of the early modern period, which can also be said, for example, for the legislative procedure, more precisely: the practice of several readings of a bill, the elaboration of which can be said in specialist committees, etc. Not least in the history of the French Assembly of Estates from 1789, the Estates General and their transformation into the National Assembly , the sometimes immediate proximity of modern parliamentary systems and pre-modern estates can be observed.

Modern parliamentarism

The modern parliamentary system was created by the development of the English Parliament . With the Bill of Rights in 1689 , it lost its status as a mere advice to the king for the first time in history. Previously, a parliament only met at his request, but now it has the right to meet itself, even on a regular basis, immunity of the MPs and influence on the state finances, whereby all actions of the king depended on the consent of the parliament. Only taxpayers were involved, and thus only the nobility , which was equated in the self-image of the population: The patron represents the interests of his region. Since then, the English have been proud of their parliament , which led to the problems of the American Revolution because the colonies were not represented in parliament. In doing so, they invoked the same equation of tax payment and popular representation, in English " No taxation without representation " (1750). In the French Revolution , too , this right to have a say was insisted on, which the many soldiers there had got to know who fought against England in the American War of Independence (especially Lafayette ).

Special forms

Often the parliamentary system of government is contrasted with the presidential system of government . Mixed forms such as in the Fifth French Republic or the Constitution of 1929 in Austria are difficult to classify; The term semi-presidentialism is controversial, but makes the existence of both elements (on the one hand parliament / on the other hand a directly elected executive) clear and the general term makes it easy to understand the ambivalence of this term. By Parliament absolutism the balance of these two elements is affected. As a rule, however, both systems can be described as parliamentarism.



  • Kurt Kluxen : History and Problems of Parliamentarism. Frankfurt am Main, 1983, ISBN 3-518-11243-0 .
  • Stefan Marschall: Parliamentarism. An introduction. Baden-Baden (Nomos), 2005, ISBN 3-8329-1062-X .
  • Schuster, Jürgen; Parliamentarism in the FRG: role and functions of the Bundestag; Berlin 1976, 191 pp.
  • Wolfgang Zeh : Parliamentarism. Historical roots modern development. Heidelberg 1997, ISBN 3-8226-1585-4 .
  • Reinhold Zippelius : Allgemeine Staatslehre , § 41, 16th edition, CH Beck, Munich, 2010, ISBN 978-3-406-60342-6 .
  • Quirin Weber: Parliament - Place of Political Decision? Legitimation problems of modern parliamentarism - illustrated using the example of the Federal Republic of Germany. Basel 2011, ISBN 978-3-7190-3123-7 .

Parliamentarianism theory

  • Wilhelm Hofmann, Gisela Riescher: Introduction to the theory of parliamentarism , Darmstadt 1999, ISBN 3-534-12977-6 .
  • Klaus von Beyme : Parliamentary Democracy. Origin and function 1789–1999 , 3rd edition. Opladen / Wiesbaden 1999, ISBN 3-531-13319-5 .
  • Ulrich von Alemann : Party systems in parliamentarism. An introduction and critique of theories of parliamentarism , Düsseldorf 1973.
  • Jürgen Hartmann, Uwe Thaysen (ed.): Pluralism and parliamentarism in theory and practice. Winfried Steffani on his 65th birthday , Opladen 1992, ISBN 3-531-12326-2 .
  • Uwe Thaysen: Iron dichotomies and discrepancies in democracy . A contribution to parliamentarianism theory. In: Werner J. Patzelt (Ed.): Res publica semper reformanda . Science and political education in the service of the common good. Festschrift for Heinrich Oberreuter on his 65th birthday, Wiesbaden 2007, ISBN 978-3-531-15393-3 , pp. 209–223.
  • Robert Redslob : The parliamentary government in its true and in its spurious form . A comparative study of the constitutions of England, Belgium, Hungary, Sweden and France, Tübingen 1918.
  • Detlef Stronk : balance and popular sovereignty. A study based on the theory of parliamentarism by Robert Redslobs , Bonn 1976, ISBN 3-87198-063-3 (also dissertation at the University of Bonn 1975/76).
  • Various articles in the magazine for parliamentary questions .

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Kelsen : On the essence and value of democracy . 2nd edition, Mohr , Tübingen 1929, p. 28.
  2. ^ Torbjörn Bergman: Constitutional Design and Government Formation: The Expected Consequences of Negative Parliamentarism . Scandinavian Political Studies, Vol. 16, 4 (1993), pp. 285-304.
  3. Steffen Ganghof, Philip Manow: Mechanismen der Politik . Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies, Cologne 2003.
  4. Page no longer available , search in web archives: Minority Democracies in Scandinavia accessed on July 25, 2009@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /

Web links