Acta Politica

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 133–155 | Cite as

Explaining cross-national policy diffusion in national parliaments: A longitudinal case study of plenary debates in the Dutch parliament

  • Rik De Ruiter
  • Jelmer Schalk
Original Article


In parliamentary debates, members of a national parliament (MPs) often refer to the policy experiences of other countries addressing similar problems to those with which the MPs are confronted. When MPs make such references, the diffusion of policy ideas from one country context to another can occur. This article explores policy diffusion in plenary debates by answering the following questions: to what extent do references by MPs to the policies of other countries change over time and across policy areas; and what are the country- and policy-specific drivers of, respectively, the number of references to other countries and how MPs use information on policy experiences from other country contexts? The results of the analysis of Dutch Lower House debates on education and environmental policies for the period 1995–2012 show that the cross-national diffusion of policy ideas by MPs follows a punctuated equilibrium logic. Moreover, Dutch MPs refer more often to policies of larger countries and of EU member states. Finally, in policy fields with a high likelihood of externalities, the diffusion of policy ideas from the three countries most referred to by MPs occurs mainly through the mechanism of interdependence.


policy diffusion national parliaments the Netherlands European Union 


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rik De Ruiter
    • 1
  • Jelmer Schalk
    • 1
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityThe HagueThe Netherlands

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