ISQAL - Interdisciplinary System for Quantitative Analysis of Lawmaking

The Interdisciplinary System for Quantitative Analysis of Lawmaking (ISQAL) was first designed within the framework of the research project no 1 H02E 052 30, carried out from 2006 to 2008, funded by the Ministry of Science. Currently, after a thorough restructuring of the system's modules, it can be described as a combination of information processing tools with a database containing all quantifiable activities of Polish Sejm members. The system has been created to conduct quantitative research on politicians' behaviour, particularly in the context of legislative process. It is currently the only application of its kind in Poland. Its database is a unique source of information for social and political scientists and a valuable material to develop statistical research methods.

Possible applications

ISQAL can be first of all used as a tool of behavioural research on parliamentary bodies and the analysis of the functioning and functional structure of parliaments. This kind of research – so far virtually nonexistent in Poland – is now one of the leading trends in western political science. It can be divided into several sub-disciplines:

  • quantitative research into the structure and functions of lawmaking process (lawmaking analysis)

  • quantitative research into the internal structure of parliaments

  • lawmakers' behaviour in open ballots (roll-call analysis)

  • research on parliamentary cohesion

  • research on the voting Power of parliamentary factions and coalitions

  • research on ideological position of particular political factions, on the basis of voting results.

Besides, ISQAL makes it possible to generate reports directly related to the present political situation, e.g. lawmakers' discipline index in different categories of votes or identification of groups of lawmakers who support certain amendments to a given bill project, regardless of their party membership.

The results of the research project in which the first version of ISQAL was used were published in the joint publication edited by J. Sokołowski and P. Poznański: Wybrane aspekty funkcjonowania Sejmu 1997-2007 (Selected aspects of the functioning of Sejm from 1997 to 2007), Kraków 2008. 

Major features

  • Innovativeness: the system is innovative in both technological and functional terms, as it has been designed as an instrument of interdisciplinary collaboration, which serves researchers from various disciplines.
  • Extensibility: the system can be enhanced and modified both by adding new applications and by changing the database structure (adding new categories of data and new relations between them), without the need of creating a new database component from scratch.
  • Automation: it is easy to integrate the system with the automatic data download and new data processing tools
  • Universality: the system has been designed with the aim to gather data on Polish Parliament, but it is possible to modify it in a way that it can be used for research on other lawmaking bodies.