The former Communist countries of Eastern Europe provide a treasure-trove of data on the development of democratic institutions. The contributors to this volume use the recent experiences of these countries to identify how the various committee systems are structured and tie the relative strength of the committee system in each country to the relative strength of its legislature. A uniform theoretical framework connects the work of each essay and ties the parts into an informative whole.
Comparative analysis based on seven indicators of institutionalization suggests that the committee systems of Hungary, Poland, and the Czech Republic are more institutionalized than those found elsewhere. Bulgaria is a middle case, while the parliaments of Moldova, Lithuania, and Estonia are the least. Of the indicators, stability in committee membership and extent of committee activity are among the most important for post-communist parliaments in their first decade.
This examination of legislative committees in their beginning stages suggests that the processes of institutionalization are sequenced: expertise in a policy sector is the basis of both the assertion of jurisdictional autonomy by committees and the motive for party control of their membership and officer positions. Basic to these developments, however, is the emergence of a stable and consistent structure of the committee system as a whole. More broadly, committee attributes are closely linked to the condition and functioning of both parliamentary party groups and the government.