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Staggered political insitutions: Design and effects

Article published in the Journal of European Public Policy.

Staggered political institutions: Design and effects.

David M. Willumsen & Klaus. H. Goetz

This article highlights the importance of staggered membership renewal in political institutions and draws attention to its policy effects. Staggering exists when the terms of elected or appointed members of an institution do not coincide. Instead, partial renewal of membership is the norm, leading to overlapping terms of office and the co-existence of two or more “classes” of members whose mandates differ in remaining length. The article first reviews the limited existing scholarship on staggering, which tends to associate staggered membership with extended time horizons and policy stability. Using upper parliamentary chambers as an illustrative example, the discussion challenges this received wisdom and emphasises the possibility of the multiplication of cycles within staggered institutions. The article points out that paying systematic attention to staggering promises to enhance our understanding of both majoritarian and non-majoritarian institutions and their effects in the governance of the European Union.