Representation in Mixed Member Electoral Systems under Segmented Electoral Markets

Research question/goal: 

The electoral markets of western democracies are getting more segmented and fluid in the process of socio-political change. This project is based on the hypothesis that weak parties in the electorate will translate into individualized forms of representational behavior, and thus less disciplined party organizations and parties in parliament, if electoral systems provide incentives in this regard. We investigate this hypothesis on the basis of the German mixed member electoral system. This system provides us with institutional variation at the level of the electoral system as well as with socio-political variation at the district level. Both factors serve as independent variables in our research design. We further operationalize the dependent variable, namely representational behaviour, in novel and innovative ways. The project firstly asks about the campaign behavior of candidates to the German Bundestag using data from the German Candidate Study 2005 (GCS 2005). These data will be supplemented through semi-structured interviews with a sample of 50 participants in the GCS 2005. The project secondly focuses on the parliamentary behavior of those participants in the GCS 2005 who have been elected to the German Bundestag (N=220). We code for these MPs forms of low threshold deviation from the party line for the 16th Bundestag. We will specifically look at the formal use of vote explanations (Erklärungen zur Abstimmung) and the signing of inter-party resolutions (interfraktionelle Gruppenanträge). Both forms of parliamentary behavior provide subtle opportunities for MPs to distance themselves from their party and to communicate these differences to their constituents. Both forms of parliamentary behavior have not been analyzed in systematic ways at the individual level for the German Bundestag so far. Both forms of parliamentary behavior have not been matched with campaign behavior to provide a more comprehensive understanding of representational behavior and to study the interrelationship between specific forms of political communication and specific forms of parliamentary behavior.

Current stage: 

The project was successful in acquiring DFG funding but could not start due to a visiting professorship abroad. The project will be discontinued due to the movement of the project leader to the University of Frankfurt.

Fact sheet

2008 to 2011
Data Sources: 
semi-structured interviews, hand-coding of official document
Geographic Space: