Precedents, parliaments, and foreign policy: Historical analogy in the House of Commons vote on Syria

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Abstract

This analysis investigates the role of historical analogies in the influence that parliaments have in foreign policy. Our empirical focus is the UK House of Parliament’s unusual opposition to the Prime Minister on UK involvement in Syria in2013. The Parliament’s vote challenges many conventional expectations about the role of parliament in security affairs. Important in this vote were lessons learned and strategically used from UK participation in the intervention of Iraq in 2003. We develop this argument theoretically based on research on historical analogies, arguing that parliaments, ‘learn’ (primarily negative) lessons about past foreign policy events which guide parliamentary preferences and procedures and can enhance parliaments’ role in subsequent foreign policy. We contribute to research on analogies by extending the logic to lessons on process. This use of precedents can offer more structurally-oriented perspectives mechanisms that translate critical junctures into reforms in procedures and policy making practices.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)62-79
Number of pages18
JournalWest European Politics
Volume40
Issue number1
Early online date24 Nov 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • United Kingdom
  • House of Commons
  • military intervention
  • historical analogies

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