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By David M. Olson

This article summarizes the learn on, and reviews of, democratic legislatures all over the world. It makes a speciality of what legislatures are and what they do - as either final result of and contributor to democratic self-government.

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The intellectual perspective of this book is most clearly summarized in the last chapter. That chapter, in turn, rests upon a long series of conferences organized through and partially funded by several organizations, none of which should be held responsible for the contents of this book: the Legislative Specialists Research Committee of the International Political Science Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities, Duke University, the North American Federalism Project at the University of California, Berkeley, and the Graduate Research Council of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

In some other democracies, the proportion of lawyers is much lower in their parliaments simply because the occupation of attorney is different in Europe than it is in the United States. Members also tend to have university educations. In Germany, for example, about 65 percent of the members of the Bundestag have university educations, and in Britain, 70 percent of the MPs are university-educated (Burch and Moran 1985; Dalton 1989, 186). With the development of complex societies and complex governments to serve them, we see the growth of a new type of occupationthe professional career in politics.

S. congressmen as a whole varied, however, with their seniority and experience. First-termers (usually referred to as "freshmen") emphasize the district in their activity and attention, while those with high seniority (six to twelve terms) emphasize legislation as an activity and tend to pay less attention to the district in their thinking about policy questions. This relative shift from district to nation and from district service to legislation may be, in part, a function of the greater electoral safety of senior members over freshmen (Davidson 1969).

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