Stronger Legislatures, Stronger Democracies

In order to assess the real impact of different governmental arrangements on democratization, we must penetrate beyond general categories for classifying constitutional systems and measure the power of specific institutions. This essay presents a new instrument for measuring the powers of national legislatures across different constitutional frameworks that examines the postcommunist countries' Freedom House scores and ratings on a Parliamentary Powers Index at the constitutional moment and beyond. The evidence shows that the strength of the national legislature may be an institutional key to democratization.