How viable are institutional innovations for national long-term governance? Lessons from a comparative empirical analysis

Aktivität: Vorträge und GastvorlesungenKonferenzvorträgeForschung

Michael Rose - Sprecher*in

Recognizing that short-termist perspectives prevail in political decision-making, several states have created institutional innovations designed to take a long-term view. By considering the needs of the (distant) future in present-day policymaking, these institutions may mitigate the presentist bias in democracies. However, adding another body to the institutional fabric of a state will not fully transform the presentist incentive system, and given their experimental nature, the viability of such institutional innovations is fragile.
This paper studies public bodies that were created explicitly to contribute a future perspective to political decision-making: Already in 1993, Finland founded the Parliamentary Committee for the Future (still active) and France the Council for the Rights of Future Generations (dissolved in 1995).
Between 2001 and 2006, Israel had a Knesset Commissioner for Future Generations. Hungary, after several failed attempts, created the powerful office of the Ombudsman for Future Generations in 2008, replaced with the (weaker) Deputy Commissioner for Future Generation in 2012 due to a change of
government and constitutional reform. Malta, a pioneer in advocating institutional representation of future generations at the UN, institutionalized its Guardian for Future Generations in 2012. Since 2016, Wales has a Commissioner for Future Generations who monitors and advices public bodies on measures
to meet specific long-term well-being goals. This study compares these institutional innovations’ formal capacity to influence policymaking by
systematically assessing on what legal basis they are (or were) equipped with what instruments to address which phases of the policy process and which branches of government. Moreover, the conditions of their formation (and disbandment) are analyzed. Although each case is unique, it can be concluded that sustained civil society pressure plays a key role for institutional reform, and that the resulting institutional innovations are most viable when they are neither too strong nor too weak in their impact capacity


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Veranstaltung: Konferenz