Hanna Bäck, Marc Debus
Representing the Region on the Floor Electoral Districts, Economic Characteristics, and Speechmaking in the German Bundestag

Parliaments in Challenging Times. 3rd General Conference of the ECPR Standing Group on Parliaments, München, 30. Juni bis 02. Juli 2016

What determines who takes the parliamentary floor? We contribute to the growing literature on parliamentary speechmaking by taking economic district features into account when analysing floor participation. Following previous scholars who have argued that plenary time is scarce, and that party leaders are likely to try to control the debate agenda, we hypothesize that the national party leadership is likely to keep MPs off the floor if they come from regions with an economic high problem pressure, because such MPs are likely to deviate from the party line due to incentives to address the specific interests of the electorate in the district they represent. We expect that the effect of the problem pressure variable is stronger for directly elected MPs, and for MPs belonging to a governing party. The institutional characteristics of the German federal and mixed electoral system allow for evaluating our hypotheses. By analysing more than 5,000 oral contributions in Bundestag debates focussing on economic issues in the time period from 2009 until 2013, we find support for our hypotheses, suggesting that the party leadership limits access to the floor for potential defectors. Hence, our results show that MPs who have incentives to represent their region on the floor are not likely to do so.