This article analyses modes of interaction beftveen government and opposition in the German Bundestag and the British House of Commons in the run-up to the Maastricht Treaty, and the implications of co-operation or a lack thereof for the parties involved. The article is based on the premise that the government-opposition relationship is not derived solely from power relationships and institutional factors, but is also a matter of democratic legitimacy. Three indicators are used to ascertain the level of government-opposition cooperation: the creation of parliamentary committees, information exchange and incentive management. Based on an institutional analysis and intervie\vs with legislators, the finding is that although parties in Germany and the UK have created parliamentary committees dealing with European affairs, only in the former did the government utilise the new tool for co-operation with the opposition, in terms of information exchange and incentive management. Consequently, informal co-operation in Germany brought about an outcome compatible with the interests of the parties involved. By contrast, the lack of co-operation with opposition parties in Britain led to an extreme parliamentary crisis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the Konard Adenauer Stiftung. An earler version was delivered as a paper to the conference, 'Developments in Europe in the Aftermath of the Cold War' (Jerusalem, Nov. 1997) which was sponsored by the Konard Adenauer Stiftung and organised by the Helmut Kohl Institute for European Studies. For useful suggestions I thank Emanuel Gutmann, Gabi Sheffer Reuven Hazan, and Antje Naujoks.