Category Archives: Publications

Blog post: Which laws are significant?

In this new blog post, my co-authors and I introduce a novel machine-learning approach to identifying important laws. We apply the new method to classify over 9,000 UK statutory instruments, and discuss the pros and cons of their approach.

Thousands of laws are published every year. In Britain, more than 300 public acts and almost 25,000 statutory instruments reached the statute book between 2010 and 2020. But which of these laws are really significant, and which ones are relatively minor? This is an important question for businesses and individuals. It is also one that many social scientists grapple with when studying law-making.

Read the full post at the LSE British Politics blog.

Committee strength in parliamentary democracies

Radoslaw Zubek (2020) `Committee Strength in Parliamentary Democracies: A New Index’. European Journal of Political Research.

Much recent research on coalitions and policy-making in parliamentary democracies requires high quality data on the strength of legislative institutions. In this note, I introduce a new index of committee policing strength which improves on existing measures in important ways. I specify key index parameters using a binary rooted tree model and engage human coders to score formal rules. I obtain a novel time-series of committee policing strength in 17 western and eastern European democracies since 1945. I validate the new estimates through convergent validation and discuss ways in which the new index contributes to future work.

New article: Measuring policy significance with PU learning

Radoslaw Zubek, Abhishek Dasgupta, David Doyle (2020) ‘Measuring the Significance of Policy Outputs with Positive Unlabeled Learning’. American Political Science Review. First View, 19 October 2020.

Identifying important policy outputs has long been of interest to political scientists. In this work, we propose a novel approach to the classification of policies. Instead of obtaining and aggregating expert evaluations of significance for a finite set of policy outputs, we use experts to identify a small set of significant outputs and then employ positive unlabeled (PU) learning to search for other similar examples in a large unlabeled set. We further propose to automate the first step by harvesting ‘seed’ sets of significant outputs from web data. We offer an application of the new approach by classifying over 9,000 government regulations in the United Kingdom. The obtained estimates are successfully validated against human experts, by forecasting web citations, and with a construct validity test.

New article: Procedural change in UK House of Commons

Niels D. Goet, Thomas G. Fleming, Radoslaw Zubek (2019) ‘Procedural Change in the UK House of Commons, 1811-2015‘ Legislative Studies Quarterly. Online First.

Recent research has shown an increasing interest in the historical evolution of legislative institutions. The development of the United Kingdom Parliament has received particularly extensive attention. In this paper, we contribute to this liter- ature in three important ways. First, we introduce a complete, machine-readable dataset of all the Standing Orders of the UK House of Commons between 1811 and 2015. Second, we demonstrate how this dataset can be used to construct innovative measures of procedural change. Third, we illustrate a potential empir- ical application of the dataset, offering an exploratory test of several expectations drawn from recent theories of formal rule change in parliamentary democracies. We conclude that the new dataset has the potential to substantially advance our understanding of legislative reforms in the United Kingdom and beyond.

New article: Minority cabinets and legislative reliability

Heike Klüver, Radoslaw Zubek ‘Minority Governments and Legislative Reliability: Evidence from Denmark and Sweden’ Party Politics. Online First. 15 March 2017.

When are minority cabinets effective? In this article, we  study the extent to which minority cabinets demonstrate legislative reliability, i.e. introduce to parliament the bills they have announced in their legislative agendas. We test hypotheses drawn from two theories of minority government effectiveness: the positional agenda power theory which emphasizes the central location of the minority cabinet in the policy space; and the ideological proximity theory which stresses the importance of the ideological closeness of opposition parties to the government. In an analysis of over 1,600 bills announced by Danish and Swedish minority cabinets in 19 legislative agendas published between 1998 and 2012, we find more support, overall, for the ideological proximity than for the positional agenda power model.

New article published in WEP

Radoslaw Zubek, Coalition Government and Committee Power (West European Politics, 38(5) 2015). In this paper, I examine the conditions under which parliamentary majorities reform legislative rules to expand or reduce committee power. I expect that, ceteris paribus, the higher the conflict inside the governing coalition, the higher the probability that parties in government adopt reforms expanding committee power and the lower the chance that they implement changes reducing such power. I test these expectations using original new data on the reforms of committee agenda powers undertaken in eight European states within 20 years from democratic transition. I find some evidence to support the endogeneity of committee power to the ideological heterogeneity of parliamentary government.

WEP special issue – published in 2015

The special issue of West European Politics on ‘Explaining Legislative Organization in European Democracies’ – which I am guest-editing – has now been published. Questions regarding the origin and evolution of legislative institutions are at the heart of comparative legislative studies. Much research in this area focuses on the US Congress; in contrast, comparative studies of European democracies have been more limited. Addressing this imbalance, this special issue showcases newly emerging research on legislative organization in Europe. In doing so, it brings together contributions that explore the rationales behind the emergence of, and variation in, national European voting practices, investiture rules, minority rights, committee power, agenda control, debating rules, and individual MPs’ rights.


Legislative Organization and its Determinants in European Parliamentary Democracies
Radoslaw Zubek

Parliamentary Voting Procedures in Comparison
Simon Hug, Simone Wegmann and Reto Wüest

Government Selection and Executive Powers: Constitutional Design in Parliamentary Democracies
José Antonio Cheibub, Shane Martin and Bjørn Erik Rasch

Explaining Reforms of Parliamentary Minority Rights: A Theoretical Framework with Case Study Application
Ulrich Sieberer and Wolfgang C. Müller

Coalition Government and Committee Power
Radoslaw Zubek

Legislative Committees as Uncertainty Reduction Devices in Multiparty Parliamentary Democracies
Luigi Curini and Francesco Zucchini

The Origins of Parliamentary Agenda Control: A Comparative Process Tracing Analysis
Michael Koß

The Centralization of Parliamentary Policy Statements in Western European Parliaments
Julia F. Keh

Electoral Incentives and Individual Parliament Members’ Rights
Yael Shomer

New article published online in Party Politics

Radoslaw Zubek, Heike Klüver, Legislative Pledges and Coalition Government (Party Politics, Online First). In this article, we examine how coalition cabinets fulfil post-electoral legislative agendas. Many coalitions announce programs identifying bills that they plan to introduce to parliament in the months ahead. We argue that the fulfilment of such pledges is driven by differences in the divisiveness and salience of legislative initiatives. We test our theoretical expectations based on an empirical analysis of over 500 legislative pledges made by the Polish cabinet between 2008 and 2011.