Policy analyses by the Policy Agenda have always wished to draw conclusions from empirical data. We are sure it is authenticity that is one of the most important value on the market of political analyses. A polical research group can achieve and keep up authenticity by producing serious professional analyses.
That is a typical characteristic of the world of politics that is works with impressions and subjective elements. This is by far the most relevant in the medium- and long term analyses. On the other hand, it is a rightful claim from political decision-makers, people affected by politics and also those who are interested in public matters, to get information on political decision-making from political experts. That has made us look for special methods based on objective factors which can produce more reliable political predictions. We carefully examined international standards and former Hungarian initiatives in order to create a brand new evaluating and analyzing system. Political Efficiency Index is a system for making medium term (in politics, it is a quarter of a year) predictions concerning the world of legislation.
What is PE-index?
By simultaneously considering several factors Political Efficiency Index helps predict the political effect of the draft(s) that are likely to appear the decision-makers’ agenda and – at the same time – get into the center of public attention. Taking these factors into consideration, PE-index is a value expressed by a figure on a 1-5 scale.
An actual PE-index is based on four decisive considerations:
– How many social layers are influenced by the problem concerned. Here we try to predict the extent of people that will be affected by the new legislation in their daily experience. In this segment, we consider whether the new legislation is a professional regulation that has relevance only to the working of the state (i.e. the regulation of the internal auditor system), or it influences the life of a small, marginal social group, or it will put an impact on the activity of a strong social group, or it will influence the practices of several social groups, or it will basically change the life of the whole society. Regarding our example, the internal auditor system, the law makers may say that their draft will exert a strong influence on the whole society since a good auditor system will minimize corruption and as a result a system free of corruption will help initiate positive processes. On the other hand, this political product (the internal auditor system) is not very likely to basically influence the political agenda even for a moment – though this is the main aspect that matters in the sphere of politics.
– How much it influences the economy and the budget. A political process does not only effect directly the everyday lives of the people but also indirectly, that is through interfering into the decisions of agents in the economy. In this segment we examine what are the concrete consequences of a given legislation on these agents. The process of the evaluation of this segment is the same as it is for measuring the social effect, so this will make the second element of the given PE-index.
– How important the problem is from the point of view of political communication. No matter how large the social group is which is influenced by a certain problem if they lack the characteristics that make the case suitable for shaping the political agenda, it will remain irrelevant for the world of politics. These two characteristic features are mediability and conflict. If the problem concerned lacks these features it is very difficult to present it in the media. Let us take an example. We have heard in the news several times that the government is reconsidering the list of the most disadvantaged settlements of Hungary. This list has a huge importance for both the society as a whole and the economy. Since the list is the result of highly complicated calculations and mathematical procedures it cannot easily be presented in the media, and numbers and figures usually conceal the element of conflicting interests.
– How much a problem is likely to trigger a parliamentary conflict. A political product becomes important and attracts huge attention if it contains possible conflicting elements that help the problem remain on the agenda for a long time. A problem may imply serious importance in the field of politics if it can reflect conflicting interests within the powers of the parliamentary structure. If the parties of the opposition can form a common platform concerning a certain question it will make a strong impact on the public. It is even more important if the conflict arises within the governing parties since the problem can really hit with the media consumers.
The figures for each segment will total the PE-index of a given problem; that is, the index shows the expectable effect of the question concerned on policy making processes.
When calculating the PE-index we have to find the right proportion between the elements. In order to do so we have made a hierarchy between the four segments and each of them is given a weighting.
The Hungarian political system is basically controlled through communication. This means that the importance of a certain problem depends on the following elements (in the order of importance): communicability, capacity to bring about a conflict in the parliament, social impact and effect on the economy and budget.
What does PE-index show?
As we have mentioned above the PE-index is derived from the database of the Parliamentary legislation. The index relies on a set of data that consists of the following items:
– the latest lawmaking program of the government,
– the work plan approved and proclaimed by the government,
– compulsive information on lawmaking by the cabinet ministers according to the law of 2010/ CXXXI on public participation in preparing legislation,
– the actual work plan of the Parliament,
– the proposals submitted to Parliament by the governing parties.
At the beginning of each quarter of the year we prepare the PE-index of every political product. They will show the top 5 political questions on the agenda (as they appear in the legislation process), and the PE-index value of each ministry (this figure shows the average of the bills presented by them), and also the influence the government and the governing parties exert on politics. The figures will help us draw conclusions on the following period.
Where else can PE-index be useful?
The method of analyzing the legislation process in the Parliament can equally be applied in measuring the importance and weight of different decisions in order to give useful background information to different economic sectors and also to regional or city councils.