ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

ECPR

Install the app

Install this application on your home screen for quick and easy access when you’re on the go.

Just tap Share then “Add to Home Screen”

Back to Paper Details

Parliamentary Careers, Electoral Vulnerability and Constituency Focus in the British House of Commons, 2001-2015

Elites
Institutions
Parliaments
Political Sociology
Carsten Schwemmer
Princeton University
Thomas Saalfeld
University of Bamberg
Carsten Schwemmer
Princeton University

Abstract

This paper demonstrates a considerable amount of variation in the extent to which the parliamentary questions tabled by British Members of Parliament focus on their respective electoral districts (“constituencies”). The work is based on a novel dataset combining information on legislative behaviour in the British House of Commons with detailed socio-demographic background information on each MP and contextual information on their electoral districts. Multi-variate panel regressions for the three legislative periods from 2001 to 2015 reveal a significant decline of the number of parliamentary questions with a constituency focus across a legislative career, whereas age and period effects are less prevalent. We also find, however, that this effect of parliamentary seniority is moderated by MPs’ electoral vulnerability. Holding a number of other predictors (e.g., membership of an opposition party and socio-economic properties of the constituencies) constant, MPs representing “marginal seats” are more likely to table questions with a constituency focus than colleagues that are electorally less vulnerable. In theoretical terms, the paper seeks to gain a better understanding of the interaction between seniority and electoral vulnerability by focusing on the questions whether (a) the effect of parliamentary seniority is consistent with predictions based on models of legislative roles and socialization, or (b) on a selection effect resulting from an incumbency advantage that ultimately reduces electoral vulnerability and creates incentives to shift legislative activities from parochial concerns to questions of national policy.