Electoral Incentives and Legislative Behaviour

Research question/goal: 

While the determinants of the success of legislative processes in parliamentary systems have been in the focus of an extensive literature, much less is known about the individual level strategies of the process, e.g., MP sponsoring of bills on a certain topic. There is a distinct discrepancy in the literatures on voting behaviour and legislative politics, with the former arguing that votes are taken for many reasons, notably candidate, party and issue characteristics, while the legislative behaviour of parties and individual MPs is most often considered as being driven by a government versus opposition divide but not much else. The goal of the project was to broaden this perspective and investigate electoral motivations for party and MP behaviour in different contexts. In a first step, we considered roll call votes in German state legislatures between 1988 and 2011 and in the UK House of Commons from 2001 to 2015 to separate the effects of policy- versus non-policy incentives in legislative behaviour. We developed a model of roll call voting and showed that tactical incentives may be more important than policy incentives (Bräuninger/Stecker/Müller 2014). Second, we considered the link between individual legislative behaviour and electoral success under varying electoral incentives. In our previous work we found evidence that electoral incentives to pursue a personal vote-seeking strategy influence the legislative behaviour of MPs (Bräuninger/Däubler/Brunner 2012). We then studied the effect of bill initiation on the personal vote. Using data on the Belgian parliament in the period 2003-2007 we find that bill initiation and particularly single-authored proposals initiated shortly before the upcoming elections are associated with a larger personal vote (Däubler/Bräuninger/Brunner 2015). Third, we consider how electoral incentives shape party vs personal vote-seeking strategies of MPs considering co-working networks at the legislative level. To this end, we collected data on bill co-sponsorship in Germany and Sweden. While data collection is finished, data analysis and preparation of manuscripts are still ongoing.

Fact sheet

2012 to 2015
Data Sources: 
official documents and legislative data bases, official statistics, biographic information of MPs
Geographic Space: 
Belgium, France, Germany



Brunner, Martin (2013): Parliaments and Legislative Activity. Motivations for Bill Introduction. Wiesbaden: Springer VS. [Studien zur Neuen Politischen Ökonomie] more