The Project

On this page we provide information about the research project "Parliamentary Control of Security Policy" (paks) at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf.

In 2003 several of the then 25 member and accession states of the European Union (EU-25) actively participated in the US-led war against Iraq, despite strong public opposition (see EOS-Gallup Europe's International Crisis Survey of January 2003.This contradicts the (monadic) theory of democratic peace originating from Kant, which expects war-averse public majorities to be able to use democratic institutions to effectively constrain their government’s security policy.

We think that in order to be able to solve the puzzle of the expected general peacefulness of democracies we should "unpack" the independent variable "democracy". Research on the democratic peace so far is based on democracy as a homogeneous category. If political systems meet certain minimum requirements – such as free and fair elections, alternating governments, public transparency of political decision-making, and the rule of law – they are counted as democracies. At this point, the democratic quality of security policy and military deployment decisions is beyond consideration. Therefore, it might be the case that a political system meets the general criteria for being counted as a democracy, even if the government enjoys exclusive decision-making powers on military security issues without being restricted by democratic checks and balances.

In our research project on the "Parliamentary control of military security policy" (paks) we focused on the case of 25 national parliaments and their impact on national security policies relating to the 2003 Iraq war. We operationalized democratization of security policy-making as parliamentarization. Given that legislatures are responsive to war-averse citizens we tested the hypothesis that depending on their powers in security policy-making, parliaments effectively limit the scope of executive security policy. In the first part of the project we developed two typologies to measure, first, the powers of parliaments regarding matters of military security policy (paks "war powers" typology) and, second, the involvement of the EU-25 governments in the Iraq war (paks "war involvement" typology). In the second part of the project we collected data for both parliamentary "war powers" and the war involvement of the 25 European democracies of our sample. At the end of the project, we correlated the two datasets and discussed the findings.

We conducted the research from February 2006 to October 2007. Research results can be downloaded as paks working papers. We are planning a follow-up project ("paks II) on decision-making processes in selected national parliaments  adding the "attitude" dimension to the "authority" dimension of the "parliamentary peace".

We appreciate funding for the project by the German Research Foundation (DFG).



Copyright © 2007 [paks]. All rights reserved.