Original Article

Economics of Governance

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 45-76

First online:

Political selection of public servants and parliamentary oversight

  • Thomas BraendleAffiliated withFaculty of Business and Economics, University of Basel
  • , Alois StutzerAffiliated withFaculty of Business and Economics, University of Basel Email author 

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In this paper, we propose a framework to integrate the identity of legislators in a politico-economic analysis of parliamentary oversight. Legislators decide about the effort they invest in oversight activities depending on their individual control costs and the level of electoral competition. We focus on public servants elected to parliament who face a conflict of interests but also have lower control costs due to their experience and information advantage. If held accountable, oversight becomes a relatively attractive activity for them to win votes. For German Laender, we find that the fraction of public servants in parliament is positively related to the number of submitted parliamentary interpellations. This result holds when instrumenting the fraction of public servants in parliament with its institutional determinants. Moreover, a mixed-member electoral system as well as a tighter race between the two biggest parties is related to more, a larger number of parties in parliament to less minor interpellations.


Political selection Parliamentary oversight Public servants Interpellations

JEL Classification

D72 D73 H11 H83