chapter  7
16 Pages

South European national parliaments and the European Union: An inconsistent reactive revival


The past three decades have been extraordinary for the region that we call now new southern Europe. Indeed, since the transitions to democracy in Portugal, Spain and Greece in the mid-1970s, Richard Gunther, Hans Jürgen Puhle and Nikiforos Diamandouros decided to call it ‘new’ to refer to the democratic nature of the regimes in contrast to the ‘old’ authoritarian dictatorships.1 Due to the similarities in development and political culture between Italy and those new democracies, the ‘new’ southern Europe democratic region comprises these four countries. A more enlarged definition of southern Europe has to include the new states that emerged out of former Yugoslavia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Malta. Sometimes Turkey is included in this definition of ‘new’ southern Europe, although for some this overstretches the concept. In all definitions, however, the core of the ‘new’ southern Europe remains the Iberian countries of Portugal and Spain, Italy and Greece. It is the intention of this chapter to use this core definition to compare the way these four countries deal with the European Union (EU) in general, and how their parliaments scrutinize EU affairs in particular.