Report by Prof. Burns on behalf of the experts who met in Fiesole
THE FUTURE OF PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY: TRANSITION AND CHALLENGE IN EUROPEAN GOVERNANCE
Green Paper prepared for the Conference of the Speakers of EU Parliaments (Rome - September 22-24, 2000)
September 2000 Rome, Italy/Uppsala, Sweden
This Green Paper has been prepared for the Conference of the Speakers of European Union Parliaments by a scientific group: Tom R. Burns (chairperson), Professor, University of Uppsala, Sweden; Carlo Jaeger, Professor, PIK-Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany; Masoud Kamali, Docent, University of Uppsala, Sweden; Dr. Angela Liberatore from the EU Commission, Directorate General XII; Yves Meny, Professor and Director of the Robert Schuman Centre, European University Institute, Florence, Italy; and Patrizia Nanz, Researcher, European University Institute, Florence, Italy. We are grateful for their comments and suggestions to David Coen (London, England), Anthony Freeman (Thorverton, England), Justin Greenword (Aberdeen, Scotland), Hans Herbert Koegler (Jacksonville, Florida, USA), Nora Machado (Uppsala, Sweden), Wendelin Reich (Bremen, Germany/Uppsala, Sweden), Tim O'Riordan (East Anglia, England), Nico Stehr (Duisburg, Germany), Pekka Sulkunen (Helsinki, Finland), Daniel Tarschys (Stockholm, Sweden), Goran Therborn (Uppsala, Sweden) for their comments and suggestions.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
OVERVIEW AND SYNOPSIS
I. Transformation of the Conditions of Governance and Regulation: Current Marginalization of Parliament
2. A World of Organizations: Governance of, by, and for Organizations
4. A New Emerging Governance Order
5. Transformed Dimensions of Representation, Sovereignty, Responsibility, and Accountability as well as the Character of Laws and Regulation.
II. Improving the Quality and Legitimacy of Parliamentary Action: Information Systems, Functions, and Roles
1b. Addressing the Absence of a Pro-active Function in Areas of Critical Societal Development
1c. Addressing the Fragmentation Problematique
3. Parliament's Role in Enhancing Public Participation and Learning
III. Reconceptualizing Democracy: Cultural and Institutional Bases
2. Rethinking Publics and Public Space
3. Processes of Open Social Exchange and Learning
4. Contemporary Forms of Modern Democracy: Demos and Organic Democracy
OVERVIEW AND SYNOPSIS
Democratic institutions such as modern parliaments are inspired by the concept of rule by and for the people. The concept envisions a polity of " the people," or Demos, who choose their representatives to Parliament and in whose name Parliament deliberates and decides on laws and policies. Parliament is the symbol and agent of Demos. In European societies (as well as most other parts of the world), it is also the major basis for legitimizing political authority and legislation. No other societal agents - whether government agencies, intergovernmental authorities such as OECD, World Bank, World Trade Organization, or non-government organizations (NGOs), political parties, and groups of scientists and experts - can compete with Parliament in symbolizing "the people" and providing political legitimacy. Parliament, however, is not only a symbol of a polity but its agent, ultimately accountable to "the people" for laws and regulation. Yet today many of the most important changes in society take place through mechanisms beyond the scope of parliamentary purview. Some of these changes may threaten to have, or are already having, significant negative impacts on economic, political, and cultural dimensions of life and are, therefore, matters of considerable public concern. If Parliament is not to be marginalized in the face of globalization and other major societal transformations, new conceptions and institutional arrangements must be considered. The clock cannot be turned back to simpler, more consistent arrangements for governance. Modern society is all too differentiated, too complicated and dynamic to be overseen in any detail from a 'center'. At the same time, there has emerged in many policy areas a variety of highly flexible and adaptable forms of 'self-governance' that make the old forms of regulation - e.g., detailed legal and administrative regulation - less applicable and less effective. This is particularly so in the case of specialized, technically advanced sectors of modern society.
This Green Paper first identifies several of the social and political forces at work transforming the conditions and problems of contemporary policy-making and regulation. Next, it considers the implications of these developments for parliamentary democracy. Finally, it discusses possible responses of Parliament to these new realities. In particular, it explores the desirability and possibilities - in the context of ongoing societal transformations - of re-conceptualizing and reforming the role and practices of parliaments. It identifies several of the opportunities for revitalizing and re-establishing Parliament's central role as a collective representative and authority in modern societies.
The fundamental question with respect to major societal changes is one of governance - in particular the patterns of responsibility/accountability and authority. Five key functions of a modern Parliament, which entail problems in the context of the governance transformation discussed here, are:
· legitimation of collective decisions and policies.
· oversight of government and other authorities,
· maintenance of a public space for discussion and reflection,
· protection and maximum realization of the values of transparency, accountability, and open democratic process with respect to Parliament itself as well governance processes currently operating outside of Parliament purview.
These functions are interrelated, as we shall see in the following discussion.
Direct participation in public or collective problem-solving and policy-making has never been so widespread and far-reaching as today. But this entails something new: the participation of groups and organizations more than that of autonomous, individual citizens. The new emerging governance order is largely one of organizations, by organizations, and for the organizations, involving as well a significant role for experts. The development of new governance arrangements entails substantial changes in key components of political order such as the following four dimensions: sovereignty, representation, responsibility and accountability, and the very character of law and regulation.
The emerging complex of governance has major implications for the role of Parliament. Modern governance -- increasingly divided into semi-autonomous, specialized sectors -- is multi-level and multi-polar; it is also democratic, at least in the sense that there is adherence to norms of mutual respect, due process, and collective deliberation. There is a de facto diffusion of authority and decision-making into specialized policy sectors in civil society as well as a decentralization downwards into regions and municipalities and a "centralization" upwards into international institutions and networks. Under these conditions, there is no longer a single center. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the public image of the centrality of, for instance, parliamentary democracy in the face of growing gaps between, on the one hand, its acknowledged responsibilities and, on the other, its actual capabilities of governing. First, there are cognitive and knowledge limitations: Parliament and its government are not - and cannot be expected to perform as - specialized experts or research organizations. Second, there are organizational limitations. Reflect for a moment on the problems of regulating from a single national or international center the diverse and dynamic processes of modern society relating to, among other things, commerce, industry, financial and monetary institutions, the production of diverse government services, research, education, public health care, bio-technologies and life science developments, gender relations, globalization, etc. One could continue listing. The point is clear. Detailed regulation from the center - through laws and government policies - of such great diversity is not a feasible undertaking. Attempts at such regulation are doomed to be counter-productive and the source of new, possibly magnified instabilities and regulative problems.
The new types of governance, while flexible and consistent with norms of self-governance - all to the good - allow also for ready abuse of power and new forms of corruption. Economically well-endowed groups as well as highly organized groups and impassioned movements with focused interests can concentrate on policy areas of particular concern to them. They are not only highly motivated but can mobilize the resources to "pay" for participation and for the "transaction costs" of policymaking. They can coopt, buy off, and in innumerable ways bias the policy-making process to their own advantage. Their engagements may take perverse forms such as irresponsible private governments, powerful state-business interlocks, and violation of democratic principles and forms of governance.
In the diverse, specialized forms of non-parliamentary governance, large, unwieldy citizen populations and groups with broad collective interests are at an obvious disadvantage, whereas in parliamentary democracy their votes sometimes count in expressing dissatisfaction or in bringing about the replacement or circulation of political elites. The powerlessness of diffuse citizen populations, even large ones, is apparent in policy arenas where economically well-endowed agents as well as highly organized groups and intense (or "impassioned") minorities with focused interests can mobilize expertise and other resources and conduct effectively disciplined discourses, negotiations and policy-making. The problem here is not only that most individual citizens lack comparable resources to compete with, for instance, multi-national corporations or with highly mobilized interest groups or movements in the new governance structure. But there is also the problem that many populations and groups of people lack minimal capabilities and resources to mobilize themselves, to articulate goals or demands, and to negotiate changes in policy. This is especially the case of highly marginalized groups, such as immigrants, who often lack citizen rights, education and the resources to organize and engage effectively in the new forms of governance. In general, there are substantial risks of massive abuses of power in the emerging governance order; this is a major reason for developing normative concepts and regulative regimes to address such problems.
Arguably, there is a significant gap between the explicit normative theory of democracy and many contemporary practices of governance. The normative theory orients us to representative parliamentarism based on popular sovereignty. The emerging governance complex - referred to in the Paper as organic governance - involves diverse interests, associations, lobbies, and organizations often representing themselves and directly engaging in various forms of policymaking and regulation. The substantial gap between democratic theory and actual practices and other related problems are of concern to some political leaders and citizen groups as well as to several segments of the general public. For many there is a sense of institutional crisis; for some, there is a growing "democratic deficit" in the context of globalization and other transformations.
Part II of the Paper identifies several potential opportunities for Parliament to position itself in relation to, and to deal with, these societal transformations and emerging problem complexes. First, attention is given to ways of enhancing parliamentary access to, and capacity to use, high quality information. The Paper suggests that the quality and legitimacy of parliamentary performance can be improved, in general, through reforming parliamentary knowledge systems, functions, and roles. Parliament would be better able to deal with several major contemporary problems such as revolutionary technological developments, fragmentation of society, globalization, the emergence of a major class of influential political agents such as NGOs, and the power of experts. In this context, it is essential for Parliament to establish greater accountability and transparency for the far-reaching and diverse policy- and 'law'-making that goes on outside of the normal domain of Parliament and its government, for instance in private or semi-public settings. Consideration of this relates to a general need to enhance the capacity of Parliament to monitor and regulate contemporary governance developments.
Among the relevant points emphasized in the Green Paper is that parliament should try to protect and maximize the realization of the values of transparency, accountability, and open democratic procedures in the emerging complex of contemporary governance.
New potential parliamentary roles and measures are discussed. For instance, Parliament or its government may consider regulating and legitimizing specialized sector groups or communities with their mixtures of agents, government organizations, NGOs and lobbyists, and specialized experts, etc. This could be accomplished by, for instance, explicitly authorizing or empowering them as one has done in the past for cities, private universities, or other incorporated entities. It could explicate the concept of a citizenship of organizations, and define in public law or in the constitution the role, and rights and obligations, of organizations participating in governance which is of substantial public concern. This involves establishing basic norms and organizing principles for them -- without restricting unnecessarily their freedom and self-governance. A further task is to define and regulate the role of expertise, formulating explicitly the character of the role, the duties, responsibilities, and accountability of expertise and scientists in democratic politics. Currently, the status of such participants, and their exercise of influence in policy- and law-making, whether direct or indirect, is highly ambiguous. Indeed, one claim for the involvement of experts in governance processes is that they contribute to making "right" decisions, laws, and policies (although these may be incompatible with the wishes of citizens or of Parliament). However, the role of expertise is not grounded in a normative theory of democracy, but in principles of rationality (key elements of the modern world). Democratic constitutions or public law typically say little or nothing about the role of experts, their powers, responsibilities and accountability, in either government or governance processes. This gap should be filled. One should try to raise public consciousness about (1) some of the differences between specialized expertise and basic value issues; and (2) the fact that scientific expertise (which is not always as neutral as assumed) should be subject to monitoring and norms of appropriate public involvement and accountability.
A proper modern constitution might refer then not only to Parliament, formal government, and citizens but to organizations, other agents of civil society, and experts. It would also articulate and legitimize particular standards or ideal forms of organic governance. This would entail specifying, among other things, rights, limits, responsibilities, means of transparency and accountability (as discussed below). Thus, the forms of organic governance would be constitutionally defined, regulated and more securely legitimated in a new democratic political order (which is partially already operating).
In sum, the Paper argues that Parliament, by adopting a role as meta-sovereign, could enhance its capacity to monitor and regulate current governance developments as well as to facilitate public participation in and learning about these new governance forms. It would define and enforce general democratic standards of governance. Among other things, this would entail establishing procedures for powerful governance groups or communities to be registered (and possibly chartered) and to give periodic accounts of their policy making and legislative activities just as government ministries do presently vis-a-vis Parliament. The concluding part (Part III) compares the emerging self-governance forms with formal parliamentary democracy. It specifies some of the normative dimensions and prerequisites of the emerging governance processes.
The Paper stresses that while parliamentary democratic models have been situated in a particular territory with a defined population of citizens (Demos), which is homogenous, or aspires to homogeneity, the new forms are substantially different. They are manifestations of a diffused democratic culture of norms and procedures. These are applied in policy deliberations, whether in formal or informal settings, often regardless of territory and irrespective of nationality, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc.
This Green Paper is intended to increase the awareness of parliamentarians of the current transformations of policy-making and regulation and the role that Parliament could play in these developments. It emphasizes strengthening some of its functions and de-emphasizing others. It proposes that European parliaments play - as they are already playing in some areas - a major role with respect to current developments. In part, Parliament can do this by assuring that the values of transparency, accountability, and democratic procedure - which lie at the core of the European heritage - are guaranteed and developed in contemporary governance, whether public or private, or local, national, or international. The analysis of the Paper identifies the architecture of a potentially new political order, combining formal parliamentary and organic forms of governance.
I. Transformation of the conditions of governance and regulation: current marginalization of parliaments.
The Lisbon document (European Union Parliaments, 1999) of the European Union Speakers of Parliament and our report address the role of parliaments and the quality of legislation in the context of globalization and other transformations of modern societies. The changing conditions of governance and regulation in contemporary society is one such development. It includes several components such as: (1) the emerging knowledge society and the 'politics of knowledge'; (2) the growing importance of non-government organizations (NGOs) in policy-making and regulation; (3) the impact of denationalization and globalization on governance and policy-making; (4) the emergence of new governance systems; and (5) the changing parameters of representation, sovereignty, accountability, and even the very the character of laws and policy. Because of these and related developments there is a growing awareness of a democratic deficit in policy-making at all levels.
1. The Politics of Science and Technology and the Scientification of Politics
Modern politics is closely intertwined with science and technology. There is increased scientification of politics itself, as recent issues of genetically modified foods and "mad-cow" disease indicate. The 'politics of knowledge' concerns the use of new scientific and technical knowledge. Issues concern whether or not such knowledge ought to be applied and, if so, to what extent and in which ways, and by which social agents. Although regulative issues of this sort have been around for some time (e.g. relating to pharmaceutical products, dangerous chemicals, nuclear energy, etc.), the scale and the contentious character of knowledge politics has increased considerably in recent times.
The politicization of technology and science is a result of the fact that the general public and political leaders have learned, and come to expect, that technology and science developments often have major impacts on matters relating to health, social environment and the natural world. Of course, this has historically been a problem, particularly in the course of industrialization. As Langdon Winner (1978) argued some time ago, major technological innovations are similar to legislative acts or political foundings that establish a framework for public order that will endure over many generations. For that reason, the same careful attention one would give to the rules, roles, and relationships of politics must also be given to such things as the establishment of nuclear energy systems, or the New Genetics, or the development of information and communication technologies (IT). Today the scale is even greater, the developments are much more rapid. Consider issues such as:
· Human cloning. To what extent should we allow it. Who should be allowed to do this, under what conditions?
· Genetic testing and therapy. There are major developments in this area. Some are highly contentious. What are the risks? Too little is known at this time, hence a profound uncertainty (see later).
· Internet, which appeared initially to be a purely promising development but which has resulted in, among other things, problems of pornography, use of internet of extremist political groups, etc. To what extent and in what ways should Internet be regulated?
· Global warming: to what extent is it true. If true, what are its causes. What is to be done about it?
· Formation and development of large-scale, complex systems, for example, large-scale technology systems such as nuclear-power plants or global, hyper-dynamic capitalism, entailing many unexpected impacts and developments.
Our institutions of governance are expected to assume responsibility for and to deal with such developments. That is, there is not only an increasing concern with scientific and technological developments but a need for political decision and action. This is the politics of knowledge and technology, in which scientific and technical experts play a key role of providing for policy-makers technical categories, standards, descriptions, assessments, etc. Politicians depend on them, in particular, for analyzing problems, defining what is the problem and what can be done, and predicting the consequences or impact of different courses of action. However, experts do not speak with a single voice or authority. They disagree among themselves, and in these exchanges, politicians in general and parliaments in particular may be marginalized. This is so because they lack the technical knowledge as well as the time and energy to devote to such a great diversity of difficult, often technically complicated problems. They cannot resolve what are apparently scientific and technical controversies, although some of these may have normative or ideological bases.
The growth in the number and variety of experts and their pervasive role and influence in modern society, in particular law- and policy-making, might be called the development of 'expertocracy'. Specialists play a central role in all areas of modern life as systematic knowledge - professional, technical, and scientific - is applied to a wide range of activities and endeavors: money and banking; market and marketing developments; energy; health and medicine; education; scientific research and new technical developments. This is apparent on all levels of governance, including also, of course, on the level of the European Union.
Contemporary governance and regulation is much more diverse and technically and procedurally more demanding than even the most educated of politician or representative can know about or deal with. As a result, effective monitoring, deliberation, and decision-making about many, if not most, policy areas today is far beyond the capacity of a typical parliament (or its parties and its general membership), no matter how large, how capable, how well organized, or how specialized. Thus in much contemporary law- and policy-making as well as implementation, experts- from such fields as engineering, natural science, economics, management and jurisprudence - enjoy a type of sovereignty. The sovereignty of experts complements as well as competes with parliamentary or popular sovereignty.
2. A World of Organizations: Governance of, by, and for Organizations
The contemporary world is characterized by great numbers and varieties of organizations engaged in policy and legislative-type activities. There are thousands of inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), many tens of thousands of international non-governmental organizations (INGOs). And within most modern societies there are as many as hundreds of thousands of economic and business organizations and government agencies as well as untold numbers of NGOs, interest groups, and self-help and voluntary associations. The latter include public interest or 'citizen groups' that deal with a wide range of problems and issues, for example, the environment and natural resources; the problems of pensioners, handicapped persons, those suffering from AIDS, or kidney patients depending on dialysis; the world of sports, entertainment, etc. In general, numerous and varying types of groups, associations, non-government organizations, and other collectivities are much more visible and engaged than individual citizens (although individual citizens are, of course, involved). They mobilize resources, knowledge and commitments; they articulate values, goals, programs of action. These collective actors - organizational citizens - carry on a significant part of the business of politics and governance in the modern world. While political parties have been key agents of democratic orders for some time, they are today largely particular types of organizations, among many others.
Compared to a central government, , and party configurations, many large multinational corporations such as Shell or Fiat and international non-government or transgovernment organizations such as World Trade Organization (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greenpeace, and Amnesty International are often better organized, have access to greater expertise, have more precisely formulated goals, policies, and programs, and, in general, exercise substantial influence in the policy arenas in which they engage themselves, whether at the global level or on the national as well as local levels (where in the latter case they would be concerned about, for instance, their facilities and the conditions of their employees). The confrontation between Shell - the largest multinational company in Western Europe - and Greenpeace in 1995 concerning the proposed deep-sea disposal (sinking) of a large oil-loading buoy, Brent Spar, illustrates the way in which policy processes and negotiations are opened up, and take place outside of parliamentary or central government control (Jordan and Maloney, 1997:577-578; the presentation in footnote 15 draws largely on their account).
In general, public interest and citizen groups have contributed to greatly expanding the issue agenda, for instance, in the environmental area or in the agricultural domain where the introduction of food safety and nutrition concerns (and other methods and quality controls) challenge the values and approaches of many high-tech agricultural methods (Jordan and Maloney, 1997:576). Major processes of governance escape the reach of the nation-state; its parliament, parties, and government. Therefore, they cannot solely determine what is right and appropriate exclusively for their own citizens (Held, 1993:25-26; Offe and Schmitter, 1994). The explosion in the number of organizations and groups that define groups or public interests and values (with respect to the economy, community, status, religion, ethnicity, gender, etc.) is characteristic of the modern world. It constitutes a significant part of the power relations in a modern society. In this context, government, or the 'sovereign' state in the traditional sense of the word - and as such supposed to be placed super partes - is one power elite among others and not always the strongest one (Bobbio, 1987:127).
Internationalization constitutes a major challenge for contemporary democratic systems. The birth and development of democracy went hand in hand with the development of the Nation State. Democratic development in the future will have to be able to reconcile the contradictions between Democraacy rooted in the Nation State and the transfer of powers to universal but sectoralized authorities (Meny, 1999) and private or semi-private "governments" and policy communities. This dilemma takes various forms. First, there is globalization, i.e. the increasingly rapid tendency to extend networks and institutions to more and more encompassing levels, whether in manufacturing, trade, transport, the environment, etc. Second, there is transnationalism, resulting from emigration, the multiplication of transnational NGOs and pressure groups, and the birth of an international public opinion capable of challenging the choices or approaches of a given country (cf. The Amazon Forest in Brazil, apartheid in South Africa, etc.). Finally, there is regionalization, which implies a more or less advanced integration of economies, of rules or of institutions - with the most advanced example being the European Union, whose success is arousing emulation in other parts of the world.
The most serious challenge, in connection with which analysis is least developed, lies in the growth of a twofold phenomenon: on the one hand, globalization as such (which though not new is becoming a major factor because of the extent of its impact); on the other hand, the sectoral specialization of the agencies of governance, on the other. This second dimension is not just dependent on or concomitant with globalization, since it is also strongly developed within the European Nation States (for instance, government agencies and independent administrative authorities). Sectoral specialization is also developing - and this is new - in the context of a globalization that is no longer only unilateral (conquest of the world by the colonialist countries) but multilateral.
This twofold phenomenon leads to a considerable reduction of available policy options. The range of potential choices is reduced by external constraints but also by internal preferences for so-called non-political or apolitical organisations. It might be that the autonomous capacity of Nation States to act according to their own choices was an illusion or even worse, a rationale to pursue objectives through all means, including war. This faith was in line with the mythical basis of State power, i.e. absolute sovereignty within its borders. National actors could pretend they were in control of decisions, free to choose among alternative solutions whose implications were subject to intense political debate. Today's situation is more the opposite, as if politics, ideology, policy choices had to be submitted to external forces, escaping the control not only of each nation but also of the international community itself. This loss of influence is benefiting new authorities not subject to the democratic principle (that is, election or control by politicians); these authorities are constituted on the basis of such principles as competence, expertise and independence, and functioning on the basis of legal or technical norms that escape to a greater or lesser extent political manipulation or intervention.
The new scope taken on by international or supranational authorities, the increasingly binding nature of their decisions, the pressure of international (or rather transnational) public opinion, the mobilization of NGOs and other pressure groups ranging from Greenpeace to Amnesty International or Transparency International, constitute an unprecedented challenge deployed in a twofold direction: not only does it, as we have already said, impoverish the space of democratic parliamentary politics, but it contributes to shifting the solution of problems towards an international/supranational space not governed by the traditional forms of democracy.
Globalization calls in question a number of concepts, perceptions and interests shaped by the historical merger between the Nation State and democracy. A new definition of democratic values (liberty, equality, solidarity) is inevitable. The coherence laboriously established between economic space, political space and social space is increasingly threatened. How can the political frontiers inherited from history remain the same when major human, commercial and financial flows no longer take account of them? The development is already far-reaching in North America and Western Europe, yet incomplete because cultural, linguistic and political structures are resistant to change, in large part because of their territorialization. There is, then, a growing gap between certain types of economic, political, and cultural flows that in themselves can become, and are becoming, an issue for democratic politics. Until today, a political system was typified by bringing together and combining a number of elements which are today more and more dissociated. Political societies have changed in their nature. From closed they have become more open; from sought or attained homogeneity they have become more heterogenous, whether accepted or not. In response, there are two alternatives: either they finds appropriate modes of consensus management (multiculturalism, national minorities, liberal pluralism, etc.), or else run the risk of movements insisting on more homogeneous and orthodox societies, at whatever level and through whatever means. If the link between groups and territories is first and foremost political, any weakening of that link is bound to bring centrifugal developments.
4. A New, Emerging Governance Order
Many parliamentarians as well as outside observers recognize the increasing marginalization of Parliament (as well as central government in many cases) in a number of significant areas of policy making and regulation. The development can be explained in part as a result of limited capacity (in part, technical incapacity, in part, overload) of effective monitoring, holding accountable, and providing a systematic overview and regulation of a vast array of important societal activities and developments.
Parliamentary institutions have greater and greater difficulty in addressing and dealing with the growing complexity, highly technical character, rapidity of change, and fragility of many developments in modern societies, in particular revolutionary technological and knowledge developments. The problems of developing an overview and legally regulating from a center the many processes of modern society are enormous. Consider the myriad of developments, among others, commerce, industry, financial and monetary institutions, research, education, gender relations, public health care, information technology, bio-technologies and life science developments, environment, natural resources, globalization, the emerging forms of governance, etc. Parliament, in principle, should be concerned about and engaged with key issues in each and all of these areas as well as many other important areas of modern society.
In general, Parliament and its government were never designed to deal with such a complex array of problems, processes, and new developments. Most members of Parliament (and the officials in government) - as well as almost all citizens - lack sufficient education, training, and experience in dealing with most of this complex world with its many specialities, technicalities, and scientification. These are not learnable or overseeable -- neither by Parliament nor by its central government, no matter how sophisticated and well-staffed.
On the one hand, all of these developments raise fundamental questions about the democratic governability of modern society and about the possible need for radical institutional changes appropriate for governance under entirely new circumstances. Parliamentary institutions and representatives remain accountable for these developments both in everyday political life as well as in normative democratic theory. Indeed, their responsibility has an open-ended character. In this respect, it appears that without an effective redefinition and reorganization of parliamentary governance itself, the profound incapacities and marginalization of are likely not only to continue, but to become more acute and to contribute to loss of confidence in, and support for, democratic institutions. It may become more and more difficult to maintain the public image of the centrality of parliamentary democracy in the face of growing democratic deficits and substantial gaps between presumed responsibilities and actual capabilities of effectively playing an appropriate governing role.
On the other hand, direct participation in collective or public problem-solving and rule-making has never been so widespread and so far-reaching as today. This is the participation of groups and organizations, however, not so much that of autonomous, individual citizens or of their parliamentary representatives. This system of 'governance' is largely one of organizations, by organizations and for organizations involving as well a very substantial role for experts. The development of a complex of such governance processes entails significant changes in key components of political order such as sovereignty, representation, responsibility and accountability, and in the very character of laws and regulation, as discussed below. Today, the national democracy of individual citizens and their parliamentary representatives tend to be bypassed and surpassed by a de facto "participatory democracy" of organized interests, citizen groups, and movements that engage themselves directly in issues that concern them.
Governance processes in modern societies take place in ways and forms that are to a great extent not only more complex but more diversified than they were in the past. One major trend is the development of non-parliamentary systems of governance in a wide variety of policy sectors. This entails the introduction and engagement of private and semi-private actors in "public policy-making," that is the "reconquest of political authority by societal actors," agents grounded in or emerging from civil society. Non-parliamentary and non-governmental forms of "legislative" and governmental function are increasingly common and penetrate most policy areas of modern society. They may also interface with parliamentary government in a variety of hybrid patterns. But there is also a substantial engagement and exercise of influence on the part of public interest groups and a wide spectrum of "lobbyists", single-interest movements, citizen associations, and action groups (that may be spontaneously organized). For example:
(1) National and international financial communities and networks obviously wield great power today, fully capable of influencing or even shaping national economic policy-making. The weight of the judgments and reactions of financial communities to the decisions and policies of governments - or even to discussions and preparations for voting in government - are such that the latter are compelled to be cautious and to take into account the opinions and judgments of that financial community. Otherwise, it may dump the national currency, reduce public credit ratings for public bonds, or, in general, wreak economic chaos for the country. Thus, economic and related policies of parliamentary government are seriously constrained in many cases, and even directed in some, by the anticipated reactions and judgments of international financial interests and institutions. But aside from these influences, one also needs to recognize the importance of multiple unanticipated and unplanned events and developments in the spheres of economic, financial, and technological processes.
(2) Business interests, labor unions, and government (or business, labor, and government) participate in discussions and deliberations about economic policies, including macro-economic policy, labor market policy, pension and social security policies, unemployment, etc. In many cases, 's function is limited to tacitly or formally accepting such policy agreements or covenants. This type of governance was particularly common in the Scandinavian countries in their various neo-corporatist arrangements (Schmitter and Lembruch, 1979). Today, there are new substantially different configurations. For instance, a Ministry of Finance, the OECD and IMF, along with international financial interests are likely to support restrictive monetary and fiscal policies (or to react negatively to deviation from such policies). This is often enough in opposition to parliamentary will as well as major constintuencies such as labor unions.
(3) Environmental public interest organizations engage and exercise influence successfully in a variety of policy sectors without engaging in electoral politics. Such organizations as Greenpeace as well as many other environmental organizations, including local ones, to a large extent ignore electoral politics. They influence policy- and law-making through direct action and engagement in concrete negotiations, policy making processes, and public campaigns. The women's movement and animal rights' movement in Northern Europe also typically ignore electoral politics and engage directly and often successfully in a variety of relevant policy sector arenas. All of these are examples of civil society agents that more or less successfully bypass many of the channels of parliamentary government, for example, addressing public opinion much more effectively than or its leaders.
(4) A growing number and variety of public interest organizations concern themselves with the policies, production and quality of public services. A typical strategy is to directly engage with the responsible administrative units, whether on the national, regional, or local levels. For instance, they may monitor performance, collect complaints, organize public meetings, formulate charters and policy proposals, ultimately negotiating directly with public administrators at different levels with respect to changing policy, procedures or particular practices and programs. This type of "citizen activity" is widespread, and is particularly visible in areas of the health care, environment, gender, treatment of animals, many new high-tech developments and many ethically defined issues such as abortion, the rights of minorities, and so on.
As a result of the growing complexity and dynamism of the contemporary world -- and the limitations or failings of parliamentary government forms -- the new forms of regulation and governance have emerged quickly and displaced established government forms in a number of areas. On the sectorial level, one finds various stable policy networks or communities, sub-governments, and "private governments" involving interest groups engaged in sectorial or particular policy issues and problems (Andersen and Burns, 1992, 1996; Bogason and Toonen, 1998; Burns and Andersen, 1998; Heclo, 1978; Kenis and Schneider, 1991; Kooiman, 1993; Rhodes, 1991; Wright, 1988, among others). A complex of these governance forms develops parallel to and in interaction with -- at times in cooperation with, at times in competition with -- parliamentary government. This variety of forms is largely based in, and involves agents of, civil society. But in many instances, these interface and interpenetrate with state agencies. The agents of civil society are not only market agents and economic interest groups, but public interest groups, social movements, self-help organizations, and associations of many kinds. Such agents are motivated by diverse goals and interests (economic, political, professional, idealistic, etc.) and engage themselves selectively in specialized public issue and policy settings: whether money and banking, industrial and labor market conditions, the environment, natural resources, consumer interests, public services, the handicapped, pensioners, women, genetic screening and bio-technologies generally, etc. This is "organic governance" (Burns, 1999a,1999b).
Policy-making entails complex collective processes. There is typically not a single 'decision', but a myriad of decisions prior to any explicit 'policy' or 'legislation.' Moreover, the organization of decision-making and judgment may take multiple forms. Non-legislative forms may involve framing an issue, opinion formation, or reaching voluntary agreements (that are not law). Of particular importance is the framing of issues -- and possibly the recognition in a pluralistic world of multiple or alternative frames -- which play a decisive role in policy-making orientations and negotiations.
Contemporary policy making is increasingly characterized by the engagement of multiple agents, not only those formally responsible. These include appropriate government authorities or representatives (GOs), business and other relevant interests along with NGOs, and international government and inter-governmental agencies such as IMF, World Bank, and OECD, as well as groups of experts. In some cases, representatives of Parliament may or may not be involved in the policy group or process. In general, major legislative and policy-making activities are being substantially displaced from parliamentary bodies and central governments to global, regional, and local agents as well as agents operating in the many specialized sectors of a differentiated, modern society. In a word, governance is increasingly diffused upward, downward and outward beyond Parliament and its government.
What relationship(s) is a national parliament, or the EU Parliament, to have to these complex configurations of agents and policy making processes. Even when parliamentary representatives are involved, they may remain largely peripheralized because of the substantial use of scientific and other technical knowledge and the involvement of multiple agents with diverse perspectives and interests engaged in the issue or issues in question. Parliament's relationship to governance conditions may vary, for instance
(2) self-governance accountable to Parliament or its government;
(3) a multi-agent network with Parliament involved as monitoring and mediating agent;
(4) a multi-agent network with Parliament involved as a key decision-making player.
In the context of complex situations in which policy or law is implemented, it is increasingly recognized that implementation is itself a form of policy making. Interpretations of a law or policy are required and are carried out "locally." In the course of implementation, a law or policy is completed or elaborated in details. In some cases, citizens and NGOs (and other important groups) may refuse to implement, or block the implementation of, a policy. Thus, they share in the policy making (and are more engaged than parliamentarians, of course, in the day to day realities of implementation).
The new not yet clearly defined complex of governance that is emerging obviously has major implications for the role of Parliament (Anderson, 1976; Andersen and Burns, 1996; Burns, 1994; Dahl, 1993; Held, 1995; Kohler-Koch, 1995). Modern governance, increasingly divided into semi-autonomous, specialized sectors, is multi-level and multi-polar, and is democratic, at least in the sense of adhering to norms of mutual respect, due process, and deliberation (see footnote 26). There is a de facto diffusion of authority and decision-making into specialized policy sectors in civil society as well as a decentralization downwards into regions and municipalities and a centralization upwards into international institutions and networks. Under these conditions, there is no longer a single center. Consequently, it is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain the public image of the centrality of, for instance, parliamentary democracy in the face of growing democratic deficits and substantial gaps between acknowledged responsibilities and the actual capabilities of governing. First, there are cognitive and knowledge limitations: Parliament and its government are not - and cannot be expected to be - specialized experts or research organizations. Second, there are organizational limitations. Reflect for a moment on the problems of centrally regulating the many diverse and dynamic processes of modern society relating to, among other things, commerce, industry, financial and monetary institutions, government service production, research, education, gender relations, public health care, bio-technologies and life science developments, globalization, etc. One could continue listing. The point is clear. Detailed regulation from the center - through laws and government policies - of such great diversity is not a feasible undertaking. Attempts at such regulation are doomed to be counter-productive and a ready source of new, possibly magnified instabilities and regulative problems.
A final point, the new types of governance, while flexible and consistent with norms of self-governance -- all to the good -- allow also for ready abuse of power and new forms of corruption. Economically well-endowed groups as well as highly organized groups and impassioned movements with focused interests can concentrate on policy areas of particular concern to them. They are not only highly motivated but can mobilize the resources to "pay" for participation and for the "transaction costs" of policymaking. They can coopt, buy off, and in innumerable ways pervert the policy-making process to their advantage. Their engagements may take perverse forms such as corruption, state-business "enterprises" and irresponsible private governments, and, finally, the subversion of democratic principles and forms of governance
In the diverse, specialized forms of non-parliamentary governance, large, unwieldy citizen populations and groups with broad collective interests are at an obvious disadvantage -- whereas in parliamentary democracy their votes sometimes count in expressing dissatisfaction or in bringing about the replacement or circulation of political elites. The powerlessness of diffuse citizen populations, even large ones, is apparent in policy arenas where economically well-endowed agents as well as highly organized groups and intense (or "impassioned") minorities with focused interests can mobilize expertise and other resources and can conduct effectively disciplined discourses, negotiations and policy-making. The problem is not only that most individual citizens lack comparable resources to compete in diverse policy arenas, or even in a particular sector, with, for instance, multi-national corporations or with highly mobilized interest groups or movements. But that many populations and groups of people lack the capabilities and resources to mobilize themselves, to articulate their goals or demands, and to negotiate changes in policy (Held, 1989: 45). This is especially the case of highly marginalized groups, such as immigrants, who typically lack citizen rights, education and the resources to organize and engage effectively in the new forms of governance. In general, there are substantial risks of massive abuses of power in the emerging governance order, which is a major reason for developing concepts and regulative regimes to address such problems.
5. Transformed Dimensions of Representation, Sovereignty, Responsibility and Accountability as well as the Character of Laws and Regulation
The development of a complex of new governance conditions and arrangements entails significant changes in key components of political order: sovereignty, representation, responsibility and accountability, and in the very character of laws and regulation, as discussed below.
(1) Representation. Representation in the new governance arrangements is highly heterogeneous, specialized and distributed. It is only to a limited extent territorial - and the territories may be local, regional, national, and global, not necessarily following the usual divisions on these levels. In this sense, parliaments and political parties have limited capabilities to 'represent' these particularities as well as diversity (regardless of the number of members of Parliament or the number of political parties involved in it).
In a hyper-differentiated modern society, there is a wide spectrum of special interests, organizations, and value committed groups that engage themselves in or are drawn into governance processes. The organizations and interest groups are capable of articulating their concerns and needs and participating themselves rather than trying to exercise influence indirectly through Parliament's general representatives and party configurations. In sector or specialized policy networks and sub-governments, they have the possibility to engage directly and forcefully in those policy and law-making processes most relevant to their concerns. Some scholars refer to a radical 'new pluralism': the explosion in number and variety of interest groups, non-government organizations, public interest groups, and movements which take initiatives and engage themselves in a wide range of governance activities. Elected representatives and political parties are no longer the only or the main means to define and to realize public expectations and needs. Many of the organizations and interest groups have only weak ideological ties or commitments to political parties, or lack such ties altogether. Typically they do not fit easily into a left-right dimension. They make specific demands (regardless of political affiliation) relating to particular areas of social life: the elderly or their spokespersons concerned with pensions or the availability and quality of health care; or single-parent families, or women, or handicapped; consumer advocates concerned with, among other things, consumer protection; local citizen groups concerned with public services or with the environment.
Manifold discussions, negotiations, policy-making and implementation take place in thousands of specialized policy settings or sub-governments, mostly outside of parliamentary contexts. Each specific policy process requires technical as well as scientific expertise and engages multiple interests and groups with special concern or interest in the area. They represent themselves, that is, self-representation, which contrasts sharply with the territorial representation in parliamentary democracy. Consequently, there is a great diversity of types and forms of representation. The limitations of parliamentary and political party representation should be viewed in light of this representational complex in the modern world.
(2) Sovereignty and authority. Sovereignty entails the idea that a political authority or community has undisputed right to determine the framework of rules, regulations, and policies in a given territory and to govern accordingly. A political center - for instance, Parliament or its government - exercises a type of 'supreme command' over a particular society. Government - however it is defined and operates - is supposed to enjoy the final and ultimate authority within that territory - in principle there is no final and absolute authority above and beyond the sovereign state (in our consideration here, a democratic one) (Held, 1989:215).
Today there is emerging a new dispersed sovereignty. It is layered, segmented, diffused, and is increasingly non-territorial. An agent or a complex of agents may enjoy a part but not the whole sovereignty. While Parliament as a general representative has an important part of sovereignty, it is not undivided sovereignty. It is absolutely not absolute in the modern world. Sovereignty in practice has become more and more differentiated and diffused - horizontally as well as vertically. There is a decentralization of political engagement and authority downward into regions and municipalities and a centralization upwards into international networks and institutions; there is also an outward diffusion into numerous sectors of civil society. This obviously entails a complexification of sovereignty in Europe today. In practice - and in the developing arrangements of authority and governance - we discover a particular complex of sovereignty which is in part, due to sectorial governance within societies and, in part, due to the diffusion of authority and control into regions and localities as well as into transnational collectivities (EU and IGOs) but also into NGOs and various agents and associations in global civil society. The sovereignty complex in each modern society tends to be specialized, distributed and to a significant degree increasingly non-territorial (or it is especially difficult to map to specific territories). Finally, a key element in European political culture is the tendency to limit formal political authority ( and government) by the rule of law, the principle of due process, and the arrangement of checks and balances.
In sum, the hegemony of the modern democratic state in the West is arguably more an illusion than a reality. Sovereignty is less and less centralized and territorial and increasingly diffused into society as well as into global arrangements. Nonetheless, in written constitutions and in much political mythology, the matter of sovereignty remains relatively simple and clear-cut. However, there is obviously a major gap with respect to actual conditions and developments.
(3) Responsibility - and accountability - for 'lawmaking', policy-making, and regulation formally resides in the system of parliamentary democracy. In practice, other agents and their arrangements have assumed a great deal of this responsibility and power; in only a few cases is it formally delegated, for instance, to special regulative public agencies. Often there are no such formal arrangements. In the public mythology, the institutions of representative democracy and its leadership remain to a high degree responsible. The issues and problem areas for which Parliament (and the central government) are considered responsible has increased substantially, and continue to expand. At the same time, the capacities of central regulation and influence are declining. In part, this is because of the exponential growth of highly complex problems and issues which defy ready-made regulative solutions; in part it is because of a lack of expertise and other resources (at least internal to the government); and in part it is because of the diffusion of sovereignty and powers of regulation. In a word, parliamentary government's practical authority - their possibilities of monitoring and governing - are substantially reduced.
Most of those actually engaged in, and exercising influence over, much of the policy-making and governance of modern society are not accountable to the larger public - they are accountable to their specialized organizations and interests as well as to themselves. These discrepancies or contradictions between responsibility and power are the source of major misunderstandings, public frustration and disillusionment with contemporary politicians, their parties, and parliamentary democracy itself. Public expectations about responsibility and power or control are misplaced, in large part because they are grounded in political mythology of national sovereignty and government of, by, and for the people, in a word, parliamentary democracy.
(4) The transformation of 'law' and public policy-making. In the past, one distinguished between laws, which were determined through legislative processes, and norms and contracts, which emerged through interactions in civil society. Today we have a wide variety of collectively determined rules and regulations as well as regulative forms. The rules and policies formulated within policy networks and sub-governments may be combined with more legal forms. For instance, in some cases, informal rules and policies are validated or legitimized by official acts of Parliament or its government. Thus, a medical policy may be worked out by professional and administrative actors along with public interest associations in the health care sector. This formulation may be eventually sanctioned not only by the department of health but by Parliament itself. However, there are many policies, regulations, and governance practices that are not validated in any such formal way, and may even be opposed by many or most parliamentarians.
Laws today require a variety of substantial informational and technical inputs (for instance, through fact-finding, impact analysis, and legal assessment). Yet, paradoxically, they must be viewed as increasingly tentative, uncertain as to their effects and tenure in a complex, dynamic world. Generally speaking, laws are often crude devices for regulation. For instance, (a) Technical changes may make a law quickly obsolete. (b) Laws, regulations, programs in complex settings are always experiments and have to be adjusted and adapted in the face of complicated, dynamic developments. (c) Situations to which laws are to be applied vary considerably, in part because of increased complexity, in part because actors simply know more - and are aware of or alerted to variation and difference (whereas earlier more attention may have been given to standardization and simplification).
Finally, formal laws are not the only, or always the best, means for structuring and regulating social life. There is a variety of other social control mechanisms that operate in any society maintaining and changing social order. Community and organizational norms and relationships, professional and occupational identities and engagements, and rituals and normative arguments as well as market competition. It follows that increased numbers - and even quality - of laws do not necessarily lead to greater or more effective regulation. Laws may clash with strong community or professional norms, or with established social relationships and practices. They may contradict one another. One of the common effects of an elaborate legal development - particularly in a complex, dynamic world - is ironically a loss of regulative power. In other words, a democratic state may attempt to do too much, to exceed its capacity - or uses its capacities in ineffective or inappropriate ways - so that the net result is less than what could have been accomplished (i.e., sub-optimal) with lower ambitions. International, regional, and local as well as sectorial agreements on rules and regulations are discussed, negotiated and determined in the manifold forums and arenas of organic governance, taking place outside of or at the interface with formal parliamentary government. Such agreements are enforced through a complex of social control processes, most often having little to do with legal or administrative power in any strict sense.
II. IMPROVING THE QUALITY AND LEGITIMACY OF PARLIAMENTARY ACTION: INFORMATION SYSTEMS, FUNCTIONS, AND ROLES
1. Enhancing the Cognitive Capacity of Parliament in the Face of Modern Complexity
1a. Parliamentary Access to and Capacity to Use Higher Quality Information
To fulfill their policy making and oversight roles, parliaments require new types of information and modes for organizing such information. There is no shortage of 'information' available to a modern parliamentary body. Special interest groups today commission sophisticated studies that support their positions, almost as the price of admission to policy deliberations. The government may provide mountains of facts. TV, radio, newspapers, books, magazines, and, now, the Internet, are among the most important sources of information for a parliament. Parliament may try to assert its equal role in policy making with the government in part through arming itself with the very best information it can get (Hill, 1995). It establishes and strengthens the analytical support agencies (such as an Office of Technology Assessment or a parliamentary research service such as the one at the Italian Parliament).
Parliamentarians and parliamentary committees react not only to a lack of sufficient information but to information overload ('excess information'), for instance in the case of the very substantial quantities of detailed information on public finance. Excessive detail is often misleading and inconclusive. Understandably, there are demands for presenting information in more concentrated and synthetic forms. And there are increasing efforts to present parliamentary documentation in synthetic form. For example, all the documentation files of the Research Department of the Italian Chamber of Deputies begin with a summary (printed on colored pages), which provides a general outline of the issue, pinpointing the main problems and questions. These are defined on the basis of criteria set by the 'Rules of Procedure' governing the preliminary fact-finding activities carried out by parliamentary committees. The staffs and administrators of Parliament are usually entrusted with the task of checking that the documents are complete and methodologically well-grounded.
Since there are often many information sources, however, the problem becomes one of selecting, judging or assessing the quality and relevance of information. Indeed, never has there been such a multitude of information sources and types - the Internet overload is one illustration of this. This relates to the fact that information is not knowledge. One needs to select what is relevant, what is reliable. This requires a model which indicates what information is causally relevant and what is policy/value relevant. In other words, such a model shows what may be necessary to reach a certain judgment or policy. It gives direction. Otherwise, there is nothing but oceans of information, and a sense of confusion and overload.
Given an effective model applicable to a policy area or issue complex, one is in a position to develop better, high quality information systems. There have been a number of attempts to establish such systems for parliamentary bodies (as well as for the general public): better library systems, parliamentary research services, Internet access, etc., all of which are useful, in many areas even essential. A remarkable example is the German institution of the Enquête-Kommission (Burns and Ueberhorst, 1988). These are parliamentary commissions supported by professional staff and endowed with the right to gather information of various sorts. They produce comprehensive reports on complex issues. Often these reports become major sources for both public and academic debate. Earlier, the US Office of Technology Assessment performed such a role investigating particular technological developments and reporting on them.
The Congressional Research Service has served and continues to serve the everyday information needs, particularly technical information needs, of the U.S. Congress, in part by providing an independent source of information and analysis, that is different from that of the government and of lobbyists. Such services are available to many, if not most European Parliaments. In some cases, a Parliament (as well as government agency) may contract with a private institute (typically employing people with social science and journalism backgrounds working interdisciplinarily) that follows an issue or development in the media and other arenas, identifying the key actors or groups involved, the controversies and negotiations, and relevant events and outcomes (making use of newspapers and journals, working papers, protocols, etc.). In such a way, issues and developments relating to, for example, nuclear energy, bio-technologies or pharmaceuticals can be followed by Parliament and its committees.
In general, one might argue that it is important that parliaments should be seen as having access to the highest quality and most advanced information on key areas of public concern. Even if parliaments (and their governments) may not be in a position on their own to produce highly specific legislation and policies in these areas, they should be seen as not only concerned but well-informed about key contemporary issues. The system for such information should be highly visible, well respected, and accessible. Moreover, while the government may be a major source of information, it cannot (and usually should not) be the only source, given the complexity of many modern issues and differences in orientations and perspectives among societal groups.
The information which a Parliament or parts of it require, of course, depend partially on the perspective of a parliamentary group (or constituencies outside of Parliament). As pointed out below, if there is general consensus about values and a well-established and reliable knowledge base, it is easier to agree on the particular information or information categories that will be utilized in deliberations (and in summarizing results). In the absence of such value consensus and /or secure knowledge base, one will need to represent and present multiple versions (and summaries). Or, one may be forced to fall back to simply providing a very general and often vague presentation, which actors with different orientations each can interpret in their own ways.
The kind of information - and the forms presenting information - will also depend on the role(s) which Parliament takes on or is expected to perform. For instance, if Parliament (or its government) is to make a specific legislative decision - for instance, legislation on intellectual property rights or bio-technologies - it requires data essential to such decisions: often highly technical information, relevant, valid, and as reliable as possible. On the other hand, if Parliament's role is not to be directly involved in a detailed legislative or policy making process, but rather to monitor and assess the process which it has delegated or chartered to a policy community or independent agency, then it would want information on the actual procedures followed, the participants, the types of arguments, and key decisions reached. In geneal (see illustration of policy making concerning bio-diversity presented later), one requires data relevant to monitoring and assessing complex, multi-lateral, multi-arena negotiation and decision-making processes.
Standardized or routinized presentation of syntheses or summaries - whether of legislative acts or of particular events, problems, or developments - is useful but has its limitations. In some issue areas, it may be possible to standardize and summarize issues. In others, this may not be possible or advisable, because of contradictory perspectives or values. In such cases, one requires methods of organizing and presenting information appropriate for "pluralistic situations."
New data and information systems are necessary and can be developed making use of innovative ways of gathering, organizing, and distributing data. For instance, the exchange of experiences, information, concepts, procedures, and forms of operation among European parliaments is already a significant development today. There is a common interest in increasing Parliament's authority and effectiveness. Contacts and exchanges among European parliaments stimulate and reinforce learning processes and the diffusion of knowledge. Such knowledge processes can be facilitated and accelerated through the development of new concepts and frameworks as well as methods. In part, it can be facilitated by new forms of organizing and presenting information, for instance, by establishing a common European Parliamentary Research Service. Such a service might also make use of 'monitoring institutes' or Enquête-type commissions that would cover over a substantial time frame key areas of common concern. Pooled, and potentially substantial resources on the European level could be devoted to this, both adding to Parliament's practical effectiveness and to its prestige and authority. These arrangements could be designed in such a way as to exploit the potentialities of Internet and other media. Such a system could serve not only European parliaments but a wide spectrum of European constituencies and publics.
In conclusion, the importance of alternative - at times, competing - sources of information should be stressed. One should not rely on a single information source (for example, a government ministry), given the variety of perspectives on, and the complexity of, many modern issues and problems. Assuring alternative sources of information and analysis is a particularly important function for Parliament. Yet, as pointed out earlier, there is often excess data or information -- an information overload -- unless one has a systematic means to sort out and select information. This requires, for instance, one or several well-developed models with which to transform information and data into knowledge. More than information about particular technical questions or developments is needed. One also needs to make assessments. Impact assessment (of new technologies, programs, or institutional reforms) is one of several important tools that has been developed for this purpose, a tool that serves the aim of managing the risks of major reforms and other developments.
1b. Addressing the Absence of a Pro-active Function in Areas of Critical Societal Development
Because of the increasing power and complexity of modern technical and global developments, 'decision making' cannot be only immediate or myopic. There must be preparations, some of which may entail long periods of investigation, deliberation, negotiation, and planning - for instance in preparing for, and finding effective concepts and methods for regulating, the bio-technological or the information technology revolutions. Typically, parliaments do not systematically concern themselves with such long-term considerations - nor do their governments, for that m atter. Indeed, there are typically no societal agents with responsibility for this. There is an obvious need for major societal representatives such as Parliament to give consideration to, and to prepare for, such future developments. In a word, a pro-active orientation is called for. in this context, tools of pro-active analysis and deliberation would be useful, such as scenario analysis, impact assessments, and early warning analysis. Consideration of emerging patterns would be alert to unintended or unanticipated, knotty problems, contentious issues, etc.
A pro-active orientation may enable parliaments and publics to become engaged in framing issues so as to facilitate reflectivity and creative judgment. Here the aim is the enhancement of Parliament's capacities - to facilitate the formation of, and debate between, alternative perspectives, assessments, and proposals. Democracy is much more than voting (Burns and Ueberhorst, 1988; Majone, 1986). It should entail the creation and discussion of alternatives, whether alternative definitions of problems, assessments of them, or proposals to deal with them. The principle of alternatives is particularly important in areas of new institutional, technological, or policy developments, or in 'system shifts,' for example in reforming welfare, health care, or educational systems. In general, such an approach is especially important in the case of changes that could be expected to have profound effects on society and societal developments.
Alternative proposals would not only explore the architecture of arrangements and their potential outcomes and developments - that is, contribute to a deeper public understanding and social learning. They would also expose or bring to light different underlying normative conceptions and value orientations advocated by different societal groups and interests. Thus, for instance, in the case of nuclear and non-nuclear alternatives to energy supply, the different conceptions of reality and normative bases of risk could be made more explicit and become part of an ongoing public discourse. Profound value differences may be articulated and analyzed, and potentialities for creative formulation of new alternatives opened up.
In general, Parliament could assume the responsibility of insuring the formulation of alternative or 'rival' drafts for deliberation and legislation in relation to major issues. These initiatives might also come from different parts of the state, for instance, the government (and its majority), a parliamentary minority, or a coalition of NGOs. Or it might be based on the chartering process discussed below; that is, Parliament might charter two or more groups or organizations to formulate alternative drafts or programs (including preparing information or date bases, assessments, and proposals). This corresponds to our earlier notion (which is operative today in many areas) that it is not only state agents (either those of parliamentary committees or government agencies) that prepare and formulate proposals for legislation or policy. Agents outside of formal government play key roles or are involved in "legislative" and policy processes (which might be chartered or authorized by Parliament).
In sum, the generation of 'rival drafts' - and the debates and discussions involving them - could be initiated by Parliament, by its government, by a political opposition, powerful private groups or influential NGOs, or by a substantial number of citizens requesting a rival draft that would be counterpoised to that of the government. Such a dialectic could become part of a process of widespread public deliberation, debate, and negotiation concerning major societal issues and developments. While there is an obvious risk that this approach would initially bring to light or amplify significant value differences, it would increase the collective awareness and understanding of such differences, for instance differences among societal agents in their value orientations and conceptions of risk. It would facilitate the articulation of these differences in policies and proposals for legislation. Moreover, it would serve to activate and mobilize public engagement. One of the most effective ways of generating public interest and debate is to formulate competing alternatives (even in the case of such dry (and often apparently boring) subjects as state finance, monetary policy, or energy and natural resource policy).
1c. Addressing the Fragmentation Problematique
Contemporary policy making is highly differentiated, specialized and fragmented. This serves very well technocratically oriented agents and special interests. But there is typically a lack of overview of, for instance, the interplay between different policy areas. In some cases such interplay is negative, resulting in contradictions and unintended or unanticipated problems. In light of this, there is a need to develop "integrative" approaches and methods to address problems of fragmentation, unintended consequences and contradictions, and to explore possibilities of balacing and achieving optimal trade-offs, etc.
The development of 'integrative' approaches would apply to policy configurations that are (or might be) interrelated, although they are treated in large part separately, for instance sectorially. Thus, for example, the initial assessment of, and legislation relating to, the development of bio-technologies may not be systematically examined in relation to health care policies or human rights. Or the perception of the interrelated developments of bio-technologies, agricultural, and food policies may come long after separate, uncoordinated policies and programs have been established (an area where there are today obvious tensions and risks of political contentiousness).
The challenge here is to develop parliamentary overview and integrative approaches to diverse and contradictory policy developments characteristic of modern societies. Although new extra-governmental forms of governance tend to bypass or crowd out parliamentary influence in specialized areas of policy making, particularly those involving the application of technical expertise, they are not readily applicable or effective in dealing with more global societal problems, for example those relating to new radical technological developments and their ramifications, or with the complex effects of globalization. For instance, the revolutions in information technology contribute to new social class developments such as the exclusion of large numbers of people from access to computer knowledge and other information technologies, or access to meaningful employment. National parliamentary governments, the governments of regions and cities, and the European Union have yet to find solutions to such encompassing problem complexes.
A modern parliament could play a key role in dealing with overarching societal problems, particularly in the context of fragmented deliberations and policy making (since extreme specialization, which is highly effective in ways pointed out earlier, is a detriment in a more holistic perspective). The multiplication of piecemeal but interrelated developments may lead - unintentionally or unexpectedly - to serious, possibly catastrophic economic, social or ecological consequences. There is a clear and present need then for an overarching discussion and deliberation on the multiple spin-offs and spill-overs of many contemporary developments and on the identification and assessment of problems of incoherence and contradiction in these developments. New strategies may be considered for balancing or harmonizing (as much as possible) complex, fragmented or incoherent societal developments. Such system-wide discussions, deliberations, and decisions could be envisioned as a major responsibility for Parliament. Which other agent(s) are in a position to concern themselves with these problems? Certainly not business interests; nor specialized government agencies; nor specialized NGOs, lobbyists, or public interest organizations!
Policy formulation in the area of, for instance, bio-diversity, cuts across several branches of a modern state, involving as well fora outside of the government or even outside inter-governmental bodies. In any given forum, a particular ministry may have its government's mandate to represent and act in its name. This might be the ministry of foreign affairs, asserting its authority in forums which may also be the domains of other ministries (e.g., Agriculture or Environment). A variety of NGOs are also engaged.
Agricultural-related biological diversity is perceived in different ways by the various actors involved: for instance, (i) as part of the larger ecosystem; (ii) as crops (and potential income) in the farmer's field; (iii) as raw material for the production of new crop varieties; (iv) as food and other products for human beings; (v) as serving cultural and spiritual purposes; (vi) as a commodity to sell just as one might sell copper ore or handicrafts; (vii) as a resource for national development. In short, many different interest groups are in fact interested in the matter, but from different perspectives. Some governments - or rather, some ministries within governments - may consider it useful to try to frame the issues of agro-biodiversity as trade issues, others as environmental issues, and still others as agricultural or development issues. In each case of framing, a different forum would be indicated as the ideal location for deliberation and negotation. Such framing also implies different strategies and expertise.
The multiplicity of interests and fora, and the existence of several debates or negotiations taking placing simultaneously, can tax the resources of even the largest governments and lead to poorly coordinated, incoherent and even contradictory policies. To some extent contradictory policies may simply demonstrate the fact that different interests and views exist within the government or between different parts of the state. Contradictions and incoherencies may be quite local and purposeful. But, in many cases, incoherent and ragged policies are explainable in terms of poor planning, coordination and priority setting. More troubling is the fact that discordant views enunciated by governments in different negotiating fora can lead, unfortunately, to a lack of progress or stalemate in all fora.
Such observations point up the complexity of policy making in some technical and environmental areas. Further examples can be found in any number of areas: pharmaceuticals, intellectual property rights developments, finance and banking, welfare, etc., each with a variety of highly specialized and focused policy groups and interests which deliberate, negotiate and make decisions. Strategic areas of argument, negotiation, conflict resolution and rule-making bypass or transcend the domain of the parliamentary framework. Key participants including interest groups and lobbyists, government and non-government organizations, and civil society networks mobilize tactical and strategic knowledge in their campaigns and conflicts. This excursus points up the need for conceptualizing and institutionalizing new forms of legislative 'act'. There are not only laws and policies but 'overview,' 'framing,' and 'assessment' as well as long-term 'scenario analysis.' One cannot expect special interests to provide more global or holistic perspectives on such issues. Indeed, narrow, non-comprehensive, and even highly distorted (and iniquitous) perspectives can be 'effective' in achieving political gains. however, many problems call for more holistic perspectives and long-term assessments of developments, risks, and alternative possibilities. Agents committed to, or with responsibility for, more holistic perspectives require an appropriate public context.
Many societal transformations probably do not require immediate new 'legislation' in the conventional sense. But, as indicated earlier, parliamentary government produces not only laws, policies, and programs. It also produces reflections and discourses on a problem situation or issue. It may help raise collective consciousness about a problem or issue. One institutionalized example of this have been the 'investigations' carried out in Scandinavia, either by government commissions, parliamentary commissions, or external commissions, whose documents typically appear as 'official reports' (there are parallels in England and the EU, with 'green' and 'white' papers). Some of these have immediate implications for legislation, but in some cases, their character is more one of 'framing' and defining issues and problems for further consideration. As mentioned earlier, the Brandt and Brundtland Reports had this character, defining a problem area and a potential agenda for many years following their public articulation.
In sum, there is a need for more comprehensive or integrative approaches to major contemporary developments. This is easier said than done. Modern life is characterized by specialization and fragmentation of knowledge and institutional domains. Sectors, interests groups, ministries, even parliamentary members and committees are institutionalized into specialized areas with their "culturally competent" interests and experts. There is a challenge to explore the possibilities of finding or developing holistic methods that would enable Parliament and other public agents to deal more effectively with the fragmentation of modern knowledge, institutions, and policy-making.
2. Enhancement of Parliamentary Capacity to Monitor and Regulate
Parliamentary overview and control, even if irregular, have been traditional means of maintaining accountability of, for instance, the government and its agencies. Today such regulation is increasingly problematic. This is, in part, because of the high technical character of many policy decisions and their implementation. In part, it is because of the complex, multi-agent nature both of the initial policy-making process and the implementation phases. In the latter case, it is difficult to map out responsibilities and to hold particular agent(s) accountable under conditions where multiple, relatively autonomous actors are involved in and influence implementation. There are also often multiple sources of information, interpretations, and analyses of policies and their implementation.
Many powerful groups, for instance, business interests and influential NGOs, are involved in policy making. How are they to be held accountable? What reporting and assessment systems would be appropriate and would increase the level and security of accountability? Increasing use is made of independent authorities, but their accountability (to the public and the representative of the public, namely Parliament) is difficult to establish and maintain. Typically, the setup of an authority is highly technocratic in character, with a narrow 'public concern' (framed in such a way as to eliminate as much as possible controversy and politics). One issue here concerns the particular information systems and deliberative procedures through which accountability might be realized.
Contemporary 'organic governance', as pointed out earlier, involves diverse interests, associations, lobbies and organizations often representing themselves and directly engaging in various arenas of policy making and regulation. There is a gap between the explicit normative theory of formal democracy (and the sovereignty of the people and Parliament) and the contemporary practice of dispersed 'organic governance' with self-represented interests and diverse NGOs. There is an apparent need to develop governance forms and rules of the game, which effectively regulate and hold accountable agents engaged in the great variety of non-governmental or quasi-governmental processes of policy making and regulation currently operating. Among several possible suggestions, one appears particularly compelling (and already practiced in a number of instances): Parliament should regulate and hold accountable as well as secure greater legitimacy for non-governmental forms of policy-making and their agents in key issue areas (Andersen and Burns, 1996,1998; Burns, 1999a). It should be stressed that this is not to advocate the return to some 'top-down' control of civil society. The point is to establish an explicit normative frame providing standards of behavior, and in particular, standards of openness, transparency, and accountability in key arenas of governance currently operating outside of parliamentary oversight. Some features of monitoring and holding accountable powerful private agents are already in place, at least with respect to certain types of activity: companies, stock markets, independent agencies, local governments are required to give accounts, above all, with respect to their income flows and budgets. The extension of the accounting of economic activities and budgets to other dimensions of the activities is currently developing rapidly in the form of "quality,""green," and "social"accounts. We fully recognize the risk here - indeed, a profound dilemma - of parliamentary monitoring and holding accountable private agents, a type of regulation that could be construed as a type of control exercised by dictatorships in relation to agents of civil society. However, these forms of regulation are in the spirit of regulating and requiring accounts from companies, stock markets, independent agencies, and local governments.
One point should be especially emphasized here - that civil society is neither a source of unambiguous good nor unambiguous evil. At its best, civil society agents and processes can be benign in character, because they generate creative solutions to collective problems. They resolve conflicts and develop self-governance. In its interface with, and inter-penetration of, the modern democratic state, civil society processes may facilitate more efficient regulation, reduce unintended consequences of legislation and policies, and increase public legitimacy. Some parts and developments of civil society may contribute greatly to people's welfare, to the moral basis of social life, and to the evolution of democratic norms and practices. However, in the worse cases, civil society agents may block, erode, or divert these developments. One may find highly perverse practices such as state clientism, corruption, criminality, and systematic violation of democratic principles and forms of government. Inequalities within civil society distort participation in, and influence over, policy making and regulation (such inequalities as is well known are based on differential ownership of capital resources as well as on substantial regional, ethnic, educational, and sexual inequalities). Precisely because of this, many of the forms of organic governance call for some minimum degree of monitoring, assessment, and regulation. Parliament is the key agent to play this role. In the past, Parliament has had, if any, a minor role in scrutinizing or legitimizing the vast array of autonomous or semi-autonomous agents engaged in determining collective rules ('laws') and regulating important areas of social life. These agents, their decisions and actions require a modicum of monitoring and accountability - because of the overall magnitude of their operations, and the substantial public risks involved in some of the areas in which they operate. Thus far, there has been little effective regulation of civil society power centers and their deliberations and practices. This should be a major concern and responsibility for Parliament, a responsibility which is in large part new, namely to act as a meta-sovereign, a concept to which we shall return later. In sum, in the context of contemporary societal transformations, this Paper cosniders the potential for reconceptualizing and restructuring the role of modern Parliament, identifying the possibilities of renewing and re-establishing its leading position as a collective representative and authority in modern, rapidly changing societies.
Some members of the group preparing this Green Paper consider that Parliament -- in relation to the development of new forms of governance -- should legally define the role, rights and obligations of organizations in contemporary private and semi-private self-governance. This need not entail (or imply) detailed legal restrictions or regulation of the way that NGOs, private enterprises, citizen groups, etc. work today, but rather should specify the possible frame(s) for deliberative and policy making processes so that they are open, transparent, and publicly accountable (more so than they have been thus far). It would be consistent with the transition from social order by means of formal government to social order by means of a high degree of "private" self-governance. Regulation would not only concern internal processes of governance for organizations that participate in 'public' policy making, but also the claims that such organizations can make about themselves and their constituencies. An organization claiming to represent a particular constituency could be required to give an accounting of how, or to what degree, they represent a constituency. Some groups may fail to organize for purposes of self-representation in the new forms of deliberation, because they lack the skills and resources for organizing. They remain peripheral to these processes. Special efforts should be made to enable groups affected by policy decisions - with a clear and present interest - to have access and to voice their viewpoints and expectations, in a word, to participate. One might develop the normative concept of parliamentary chartering (delegating authority and responsibility to defined social units or agents). That is, Parliament, or its agents, could give explicit authorization, or empowerment, in the form of a charter or other general delegative instrument, to specialized or sector policy making groups or communities (as one has done in the past for cities, private universities, boards of trade or exchange, or other incorporated entities). This serves not only to sanction or legitimize policy making, which is taking place presently in large part outside of the purview of Parliament (and its government) but also to specify a legal frame for participation, deliberation, and decision-making. According to this concept, Parliament would concern itself less with the innumerable detailed, practical governance issues and policy making in highly specialized (or technical) policy areas and concern itself more with the frames for relevant and engaged actors to self-govern in a manner satisfying, for instance, rules of access and participation, due process, and accountability.
In other words, Parliament would formulate rules and procedures for public accountability. In part, this would entail specifying forms and procedures for reporting and accounting about governance arrangements, participating agents, types and levels of participation, and key decisions and overall developments - just as today corporations and many voluntary organizations are required to give public financial accounts of themselves. Relatively frequent accounts (for example, annual or bi-annual) might be reasonable demands from any sector which is of sufficient public significance to impose such public accountability. In some critical or problematic areas, Parliament might conduct periodic public hearings and other investigations. This would be especially the case in those areas that are either of great long-term significance or of critical public concern. These include, of course, areas of environmental problems or those of major technological developments, relating, for instance, to bio-technologies, medicine and communications. Other important areas are those that concern large number of citizens such as welfare programs, employment conditions, and the place and equality of women in society. In these and related ways, Parliament would reaffirm itself as a major general representative and voice of peoples.
In its role as meta-sovereign, Parliament would contribute to defining and enforcing general standards of governance and procedures for registering (or obtaining a charter or delegation) and giving periodic accounts of policy making and legislative activities (just as government ministries do presently). Independent state agencies are today more or less accountable for providing Parliament with certain types and quality of information. This could apply also to self-governing policy making groups and communities in key problem areas. There is an obvious need to develop new, high quality information and accounting systems for sector policy making groups. Earlier we referred to 'deliberation accounts' that would provide accounts about how policies have been reached, who has participated, what outcomes have been reached, etc. In its role as meta-sovereign, Parliament should pay particular attention to the great inequalities in capacity to participate in and to influence policymaking in contemporary organic forms of governance. One should consider proactive measures to enable unorganized or poorly organized groups - whose interests are affected in particular policy areas - to increase their participatory potentials through providing, for instance, training programs, resources to initiate NGO formation, and access to expertise.
Such reforms could contribute to increased transparency and to reinforcing general public trust in these and related forms of modern governance. Unfortunately, much of the extra-governmental governance going on today is neither transparent nor accountable to the public. Greater transparency and accountability are essential to building and maintaining trust in the many diverse and distant governance processes and decisions. This is a corner-stone to social order in any modern society. The importance of the public(s) understanding how policies and laws are established and implemented has been stressed. This calls for information and accounting systems developed for such purposes, e.g. indicating the specific way(s) which a policy is introduced and implemented and ascertaining its social and physical impacts (impact analysis). An instance of such accounting is already standard in many countries when it comes to the use of public monies, e.g. through a state audit office, which reports to Parliament.
A further challenge to Parliament is to define explicitly in new legislation or a new constitution the role, the duties, responsibilities and accountability of expertise and scientists in democratic politics. At present, the status of such participants and their exercise of influence in policy- and law-making, whether directly or indirectly, is highly ambiguous. Indeed, one claim for the involvement of experts in governance processes is that they contribute to making 'right' decisions, laws, or policies (although these may contradict the wishes of citizens or of Parliament). But their role is not grounded in a normative theory of democracy but in principles of optimizing rationality (both key components of modern society). Democratic constitutions typically say little or nothing about the role of experts, their powers, and their responsibilities and accountability, in either government or governance processes. This gap should be filled.
An appropriate modern constitution would then refer not only to Parliament, formal government and citizens but also to organizations, agents of civil society, and experts in governance processes, defining their roles, rights, obligations, etc. It would also articulate and legitimize particular standards or ideal forms of governance. This would entail defining, among other things, rights, constraints, responsibilities, means of transparency and accountability of those agents engaged in governance processes. Thus, the chartered or delegated forms of governance would be constitutionally defined, regulated and more securely legitimated in a new democratic political order.
Through championing such reforms, Parliament would be better able to hold participants in key areas of governance accountable for operating according to particular principles and procedures. It would also better assure the maintenance of transparency and the systematic accounting of governance activities and developments. This would entail Parliament determining whether or not, and to what extent, particular actors or groups that engage in policy making and other governance activities in a given area should be required to give an accounting themselves (just as corporations and many voluntary organizations are required to do now when it comes to their financing and use of monies). They could be sanctioned or even dis-accredited as organizations if they were to violate key rules, for instance, those requiring the provision of proper accounts. Thus, to function as specialized sovereign agents or agencies would entail responsibility and accountability to the public(s).
3. Parliament's Role in Enhancing Public Participation and Learning
Parliament serves to provide a major public space - a visible forum -for debate and discussion of issues of concern to many citizens and citizen groups, for defining and framing issues, for negotiating and resolving conflicts, and for legitimizing public policies and laws. It may also provide a basis for early warning signals, especially in systems giving to minority groups (and small political parties, etc. ) representation and opportunities to 'voice' concerns and expectations. Actors with non-conventional views or perspectives - or those with odd ideas - participate and express themselves. Through hearings and enduring public debate, issues are framed - or multiple frames emerge (Burns and Ueberborst, 1988).
In the course of economic, technological, and institutional innovations and developments, social agents - whether individuals, groups, or organizations - acquire knowledge and re-formulate their goals, strategies and engagements. New concepts, shifts in values, and changes in the relevant 'rules of the game' and social institutions will be reflected sooner or later in societal developments. Often, these cultural and institutional changes occur at a slower pace than the more purely technical or engineering changes and, occasionally, only take place after prolonged and costly misunderstandings and struggles. The 'feedback' associated with major societal developments are characterized not only by delays, distortion, and confusion, but by barriers and outright opposition from vested interests. Thus, assessment of major societal and technological developments and increased awareness of, and deliberation over, societal and environmental impacts may be blocked or misdirected.
More and more agents (NGOs, social movements, expert groups, etc.) operate outside the formal realm of parliamentary government. This was also true earlier with respect to political parties, but, in most cases, while they were established outside of parliaments, they also were in many cases participating in parliamentary relations, thus linking "outside" attitudes and debates to those inside Parliament. Today, diverse, influential organizations operate with limited or no contacts with Parliament or the general public at the same time that they are engaged in and influencing extra-governmental policy making. Increasingly, other institutions and agents compete with Parliament in defining and making use of a public space (or spaces): NGOs working through mass media, experts utilizing professional arenas as well as the mass media, or multiple authorities on the national level (autonomous authorities, centers with expertise) and the international level (IMF, World Bank, OECD). None of the major agents (NGOs, GOs, IGOs, expert groups, social movements, etc.) has responsibility for encouraging or facilitating overall public discussion and learning. In our view, the national parliaments as well as the European Parliament should strengthen its function as a stimulus and facilitator of public discussion. In part, this would entail operating as a networking agent which links specialized decision making bodies or subgovernments and the general public of citizens. In this context, Parliament should help develop the pedagogical and cultural dimensions of politics, emphasizing, for instance, the strategic importance of framing issues. Framing shapes the cognitive and normative bases of judgment, which will affect selectively and profoundly future decisions and developments.
Parliament could and should take a lead in increasing public discussion and awareness of major new societal transformations through hearings and inquiries (see earlier) as well as other forms of public engagement. It might support the formation of or sponsor public groups focusing on a particular problem or problem complex. Such 'focus groups' with wide-ranging representation could be organized so as to have access to scientific expertise facilitating or enabling 'integrated assessment' (the scientific expertise is made available through, for instance, panels of experts or through Internet). Parliament could support such an endeavor for the purpose of addressing salient issues of concern to the general public and to itself (Jaeger et al., 1999). Such integrated assessment (IA) focus groups could contribute to better recognition and understanding of the values, judgments and concerns of the citizenry Parliament represents. Focus groups could also give visibility to (and thereby offer incentives for) parliamentary initiatives and deliberations. Parliamentary research services might asasume responsibility for establishing and attending to regular integrated assessment focus groups on a variety of issues of concern to Parliament and the general public.
Parliaments could also consider linking their concerns and deliberations to discussion groups in the media, including talk shows involving public figures and ordinary citizens, and other public fora, etc. This strategy extends Parliament beyond its chamber(s) into multiple fora in society. Such innovations may be organized around highly specialized issues such as global warming, bio-technologies, nuclear energy, social security, health insurance, etc. or around broad issues relating to anxieties and uncertainties that many people feel about the complex, dynamic developments confronting modern society. These different forms of public discussion help to articulate and crystallize public opinion. The results may be documented and summarized for both Parliament and the general public - contributing to societal reflectivity and learning.
On the basis of the preceding discussion, we suggest consideration of reforms of parliamentary functions, role, and institutional arrangements guided by principles such as the following:
· The principle of exercising high selectivity -- with respect to the policy areas in which Parliament engages itself directly, for example in the formulation of specific or detailed laws and policies. This calls for explicit consideration of the reasons for such focused involvement
· The principle to delegate whenever possible -- a form of subsidiarity principle -- to self-organizing policy sectors, at the same time holding accountable these sectors or key or powerful actors in these sectors. Part of this entails establishing effective monitoring and accounting arrangements.
· The principle of focusing on strategic problems and issues that cannot be readily delegated or dealt with through private interests or civil society, for instance, addressing long-term problems of social transformation, or problems of interlinking fragmented policies and policy developments. In part, there is a great need to establish social and cultural links in society between mltiple publics, Parliament, and experts (for instance, through institutions of hearings and networks of focus groups).
· The principle that it is essential to examine and rethink the role of Parliament and democratic culture in the continuing evolution of democratic practices, especially in the context of major contemporary transformations.
· The principle that any reform is an experiment, particularly in a complex dynamic system.
· The new parliamentary role implies more than systematic consideration of major, long-term societal developments, including those of governance. It implies a moral engagement in confronting and grappling with critical contemporary issues. The state is not "beyond morality," regardless of its democratic credentials. It should be morally accountable. Also, as a collective symbol, it should be morally exemplary. The new prince, especially a democratic one, should be a moral prince.
III. RECONCEPTUALIZING DEMOCRACY: CULTURAL AND INSTITUTIONAL BASES
As suggested in Part I, the many informal networks and sub-governments as well as related forms of contemporary governance are effective alternatives in many policy areas to parliamentary government rooted in territorial representation and scope. The robustness of these organic forms of governance is based not only on their specialized effectiveness but, in part, on their 'democratic legitimacy,' in that they involve "public" participation and self-representation. This legitimacy is weaker or more open to criticism than that of popular sovereignty and parliamentary representation (Burns 1994). The new forms, nonetheless, satisfy, in a certain sense, general cultural notions of democracy, namely the right to form groups or organizations in order to advance or protect interests, the right to be informed and knowledgeable, and the right to voice an opinion and to influence policies or laws that affect one's interests or values. This concluding part of the Paper discusses the deeper significance of the emerging organic forms of democracy, their bases of legitimacy, and their relationship to formal democratic models.
1. The Legitimacy Problematique
The legitimation of law and other collective decisions is based on democracy. The concept of "the people" (or Demos) inspires our democratic institutions. It envisions a polity of "the people" by whom and for whom parliamentary deliberations and decisions take place. The democratic polity derives to a greater or lesser extent from an integrated community, a "we-identity" (Scharpf, 1999) - some speak of the "homogeneity" of a polity or its constituency (Offe,1998; Scharpf, 1999). This type of social arrangement has often been the basis of the acceptance by minorities of majority domination, solidaristic redistribution, and far-reaching welfare programs.
Our earlier analyses - and the starting point of contemporary discussions of the legitimacy deficit - entail the familiar diagnosis of a dispersion of sovereignty in two directions: not only are decision-making powers accruing to new supranational institutions, but there is also -- and equally importantly -- a shift of governance from public to private sectors, a devolution of an increasing spectrum of public responsibilities and political decisions to private or semi-private governance regimes. Modern societies are, as it were, without an obvious peak and center. In general, they are too differentiated and dynamic to be overseen in any detail from a center. However, a fundamental legitimacy deficit arises in the shift from public to private governance structures. In part, this is because there is not yet an established system of accountability. Nevertheless, democratic accountability is expected, even demanded (such demands claim considerable legitimacy, as the recent demonstrations at Seattle, Washington, Davos, Switzerland, and Washington, D.C. suggest). The pressing question is whether (or more optimistically, how) the emerging private governance structures can be "constitutionalized" in such a way that the problem of democratic legitimacy can be solved. Related questions are whether the shift of governance simply means a weakening, or in some cases a withdrawal, of political intervention in the face of the market and other powers. Or whether it ipso facto amounts to a 'de-politicization' of major problems (such as economic restructuring, technological risk management, global warming, environmental degradation, etc.), the solution of which affects in the long run society as a whole.
If one takes the notion of a homogenous Demos as a normative starting point, then any "legitimacy deficit" in both its contemporary dimensions -- the emergence of globalization or Europeanization and the shift from "public" to "private" -- necessarily remains difficult to conceptualize and effectively address. In particular, given the extraordinary diversity of Europe (even more the planned enlarged Europe), we cannot meaningfully speak at present of a European "Demos," or, for that matter, a global one. Moreover, the increased role of sub-governments is neither conventionally private (because they have a "public" or collective problem-solving function), nor conventionally public (because they operate to a greater or lesser extent more autonomously than typical public bodies in democratic societies). At the same time, these regimes proliferate on the transnational level. In a "pluricentric" modern world - with a multiplicity of NGOs, specialized policy settings, the authority of diverse experts, different levels and forms of governance, etc. - one cannot claim "homogeneity" in any simple sense. And territoriality, while still important, is clearly not a reliable basis to address many of these matters. The close linkage between the citizens as "governors" and as "governed" is, therefore, loosened.
In the emerging system of governance, collective agents who are bearers and developers of the culture of democracy, become as important as -- if not more so than -- individual citizens. Political parties are one instance of such agents, among many others. In a certain sense, these bearers and promoters are a new type of "democratic citizen" exemplifying and potentially reinforcing commitment to democratic norms and procedures of deliberation. They engage in collective discussions and deliberations in which problems are identified and solutions proposed: locally, globally, in "public" settings, and in "private" settings as well as in mixed public-private settings. Earlier we have suggested how these processes may be facilitated and legitimated, in part, through Parliament delegating, chartering, and holding accountable, self-governing but publicly important groups and communities. As meta-sovereign, Parliament would thus act to reinforce and guarantee the values of transparency, accountability, and open democratic process with respect to collective decision-making and law-making in critical areas. This is one way to address directly the legitimacy problematique in a world of increasing organic governance.
2. Rethinking Publics and Public Space
Dispersed sovereignty, outside of the parliamentary sphere and possibly beyond national jurisdiction, raises difficult questions such as what is the "public" or the "public sphere." In the emerging practices identified in this Paper, public sphere means a social space in which members of a polity discuss and deliberate on matters of common interest and form public opinions about these matters. The participants clarify and negotiate their interests and goals, express social demands, and potentially decide upon collective action. They exchange convictions and value-judgments, possibly articulating in the process a collective identity out of a set of self-understandings. Public communication takes place through a variety of media (e.g. newspapers, books, television, Internet) and also in face-to-face encounters: in informal conversations in freely accessible settings (such as public squares, street corners, cafés and pubs, train compartments, etc.) or in institutionalized meetings of voluntary associations (such as social movements, political parties, interest associations, citizen's action groups, etc.).
In modern Western democracies the public sphere, mediating between political authority and the people, is the arena in which a collectivity of citizens as the bearer of "public opinion" can exert influence over policies and make claims for legitimacy. This is a significant source of legitimacy. The importance of the public sphere lies in its potential to facilitate not only the formatioin of public opinion, but also the (re)production of public norms and values as well as the integration of society in a non-coercive manner (Nanz 2001).
In this perspective, an overarching public sphere, which may accommodate a multiplicity of public arenas, is constructed on the basis of an emerging shared culture of democratic norms and procedures. Participation in decisions and deliberations - in accordance with these norms and procedures -- gives identity to participating agents as democratic "citizens," whether individual or collective. There is an explicit or implicit commitment to an unwritten, democratic "constitution," that is, to play according to democratic "rules of the game." The modern public sphere then becomes a pluralistic social realm engaging a variety of, sometimes overlapping or contending, publics. These participate in intercultural (and transnational) dialogues and citizenship practices. This democratic conception of the public sphere builds on the idea that there is a constant interchange between the discourses of different publics, and, therefore, that all public discourse is intrinsically "multi-voiced". It recognizes the divergent or unshared socio-cultural perspectives (within and between publics) and the possible conflicts between these perspectives. Moreover, it sets out the possibility of a dialogical exploration of cultural and ideological differences, rather than only of similarities. This forms the basis for an on-going negotiation of intercultural collective identity and transnational political culture. Such a conception of the public sphere differs from the universalizing ideal of a single, "homogenous" public or polity. The task, as yet unfulfilled, is to open up conversation among an irreducible multitude of socio-cultural and national collectivities or "voices" (Bakhtin, 1986). This conception of the public sphere is more suitable for international politics, the European Union (particularly with enlargement to the East and South), and the multicultural societies of Europe. It is distinct from, and complementary to, nation-state democracy, with its territoriality, and a particular or imagined homogenous cultural tradition.
3. Processes of Open Social Exchange and Learning
Today's phenomena of multiple attachments and the mixing of elements from different cultures make strikingly apparent the ambivalent and dynamic nature of collective identity. Constantly moving between different symbolic worlds, a growing number of people define themselves in terms of multiple bonds of group, community, and nation and feel at ease with subjectivities that embrace plural and fluid socio-cultural identities. Furthermore, one can argue that multiculturalism does not only mean a difference between cultures, but also difference within cultures and, thus, within every self.
Paradoxically, cultural difference has become for some people the basis for an exaggeration of difference. "Multiculturalism based on difference" risks compartmentalizing (and reifying) cultural or ethnic groups by emphasizing their mutual distinctness, indeed the incommensurability of cultures. By contrast, an inter-discursive approach underscores the processes of exchange and learning that promotes the adaptation and creation of culture and identity. A self-reflective multiculturalism de-emphasizes the "politics of authenticity" or of "affirmative action." The latter reinforce 'fundamentalist' cultural self-definitions among national or cultural minorities. But identity may be based rather on an intercultural "pastiche". Beginning with the assumption that culture is always situated and negotiated, a self-reflective politics of multiculturalism argues for the possibility of new, positive fusions of identities and cultural innovations. These may transcend fragmentation, at the same time recognizing the differentiated interests that social groups, including disadvantaged groups, have in sustaining boundaries. The challenge here is to envision policy processes where culturally distinct groups or collectivities engage in reflexive distancing from their own positions and discourses, and hence come to recognize the potential validity of other perspectives and discourses. This is a key component of the emerging "culture of democracy," with increasing consciousness of alternatives and complexity.
4. Complementary Forms of Modern Democracy: Demos and Organic Democracy
Parliamentary territorial representation entails the involvement of a select few in law- and policy-making and provides a reliable basis for well-organized deliberation and decision-making. It enables in many cases more or less effective and reliable legislative action judged to be legitimate. Of course, such arrangements risk a de-coupling between Parliament and "the people." Two institutional arrangements were supposed to limit such de-coupling, namely regular parliamentary elections and a free press. But, as suggested in this Paper, much more is needed. Modern citizenry does not consist of a homogenous mass public, or merely supporters of one or more parties. They are increasingly complex in their judgments and engagements. They make up an ensemble of publics with differentiated interests and competencies.
The emerging governance order discussed in this report entails a partial shift from a Demos based on a more or less homogenous people of a particular territory to a more organic conception of democracy. The latter emphasizes a complex of norms and procedures, which "democratic citizens" apply in their deliberations, whether in formal or informal settings. The following table identifies several of the dimensions, specified earlier, that can be used to differentiate and compare the conventional formal democratic model with the cultural model of democracy. The concept of an extensive democratic culture de-couples the democracy principle from the particular political institutions of the nation-state (Demos), without disparaging the latter.
"Public," as we have suggested here, takes on new meanings and possibilities, as does "citizen", "collective deliberation and policy-making" as well as "accountability." The new forms of democratic governance emphasize learning and creativity, for instance the importance of social exchange, negotiation, and mutual education among participants in the further development of democratic practices. Similarly, democratic "citizenship" takes on a new meaning, providing a vantage-point with which to rethink national and transnational modes of civic engagement and democratic exchange among diverse forms of publics and policy-making bodies. These emerging practices contribute to social integration by forging new communities of citizenship and public action. Such a development is founded upon core assumptions of the inalienable right of individuals and groups -- irrespective of nation, ethnicity, religion, gender, etc. -- to have a say and to influence public processes and decisions affecting their lives.
The parliaments of Europe might consider playing a central role in such developments. They are the agents par excellence capable of publicly representing and assuring that the values of transparency, accountability, and democratic procedure are realized and developed in public life at whatever level and in whatever policy-making context. The evolution of modern polities, the dispersion of sovereignty, and growing heterogeneity evoke diverse institutional responses. These create the occasion for - indeed, in part, anticipating - a rethinking of our democratic ideas and practices. They are not signs of a democratic crisis but of opportunities for a democratic renaissance.
Table 1: Complementary Systems of Governance: Conventional Democracy and Emerging, Organic Democracy
Formal Democracy Model: A system with representative government as the principal institutional arrangement for organizing public discussion, negotiation, and collective rule-or law-making Organic Democratic Model: A system with multiple publics, multiple public spheres, a diffused culture of democracy through "democratic citizens" who adhere to norms of democratic deliberation (see below) Representative and Guardianof Democratic Values Parliament; Demos ("the people") Parliament as meta-sovereign; as the agent to assure transparency, accountability and democratic deliberation in major governance settings at whatever level; democratic citizens (those who adhere to the democratic rules of the game).
Key Agents Demos (The People), Parliament (its members, parties), government Parliament (its members, parties), government, civil societies, NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, democratic "citizens" who fulfil the norm of "legitimate participation."'(e.g., an issue, project, law, etc. that concerns or affects them).
Sphere of Public Discussion and Debate (to identify, analyze problems, propose solutions, make collective decisions) Parliament, Demos (e.g., participating in election settings), government organized discussions Parliament, civil societies, formal and informal public spheres that are established by self-organizing agents; or are delegated/chartered policy settings. Deliberative Form Parliamentary Deliberation Multiple forms of democratic deliberation conducted according to general norms, open access, respect for others, procedures of deliberation, and accountability
Alexander, J. (1995) "Collective Action and Democratic Discourse: Social Movements as 'Translations' of Civil Society. Paper presented at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences. Uppsala, Sweden