Crisis opportunities - Committees of inquiry as stepping stones for backbenchers

Working paper


The spillovers of the US Subprime crisis wreaked havoc in the Portuguese banking sector. In the aftermath of the banking crisis, the Portuguese Parliament set up committees of inquiry that were tasked with shedding light on the (mis)conduct of the Portuguese banks. The proceedings gained high visibility in the media. In this paper, we analyze to what degree backbenchers who served on those committees could use the exposure to break into the well-guarded ranks of the party elites. We argue that the increased name recognition and the sharpened profile made the MPs more useful as vehicles for fostering party goals. We analyze dynamic co-sponsorship networks and can show that after serving on the committee, backbenchers’ become more central to the activities within their parties. We can also show that backbenchers who served on the committees are more likely to be connected with party elites and are promoted to more secure seats. This is the first evidence, that the crisis has started a slow process of renewal of traditional party elites in Portugal by changing the balance of power within parties.


PatrĂ­cia Calca - ISCTE-IUL Lisbon