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Parliamentary Affairs Current Issue

Published: Thu, 06 Apr 2017 00:00:00 GMT

Last Build Date: Thu, 29 Jun 2017 08:53:27 GMT


Why Britain Voted for Brexit: An Individual-Level Analysis of the 2016 Referendum Vote


This article investigates forces that shaped the decisions voters made in the 23 June 2016 referendum on the UK’s continued membership in the European Union. A multivariate model informed by previous research on voting in major ‘‘polity-shaping’ referendums is employed assess factors affecting how voters cast their ballots in the EU referendum. Employing data gathered in a national panel survey conducted before and after the referendum, analyses document that economic- and immigration-focused benefit-cost evaluations strongly influenced voters’ decisions. Risk assessments, emotional reactions to EU membership and leader image heuristics were other major proximate forces driving the choices voters made. National identities were influential as well, but operated further back in the set of forces affecting attitudes towards the EU. The June 23rd Brexit decision thus reflected a diverse mix of calculations, emotions and cues. Given the close division of the vote, it is plausible that a substantial change in any of these factors could have changed the referendum outcome.

The Rise of Court Government? Testing the Centralisation of Power Thesis with Longitudinal Data from Canada


Whether there has been a centralisation of power towards the first minister and her entourage of courtiers during the 20th century is a contentious issue among scholars of parliamentary systems. A principle reason for the endurance of this debate is the absence of empirical indicators that can be compared over time. This article contributes to this research by examining a primary means the centre is believed to have increased its control: the appointment of administrative elites. Using an original data set of deputy minister turnover in Canada’s provincial bureaucracies from 1920 to 2013, this article tests whether the relationship between a change in the first minister and bureaucratic mobility has shifted over time. Consistent with the centralisation of power thesis, the results show that the level of mobility following a transition in the first minister and party has increased since 1980. Moreover, whereas before 1980 only a change in first minister alongside a transition in party leads to increased mobility, since then, mobility increases alongside all newly elected first ministers, regardless of party change. This relationship is not found among unelected first ministers, who are believed to have a different relationship with cabinet and party members than elected first ministers.

Variations for Inspirational Leadership: The Incumbency of Berlusconi and Orbán


The article applies Nye’s (2008, 2014) conceptual proposal for the empirical comparison of the political leadership of Silvio Berlusconi and Viktor Orbán. Nye modified Burns’ (1978) concept of transactional and transformational leaders and differentiated between inspirational and transactional leadership styles. Supplementing Nye’s conceptual–theoretical framework, the article differentiates between leadership style, policy objectives and policy outcome. The empirical comparison highlights the different configurations of these three characteristics of leadership and justifies Nye’s conceptual innovation compared to Burns’ transformational leadership: the inspirational leadership style is not necessarily accompanied by transformational objectives and outcomes. While both Berlusconi and Orbán may be characterised by their inspirational leadership style, Berlusconi had more moderate, incremental policy objectives and achievements compared to Orbán’s transformational ones. The article also discusses the factors which might explain the differences in the two political leaders’ traits and effectiveness.

Brexit, Butchery and Boris: Theresa May and Her First Cabinet


This note analyses the formation of Theresa May’s first Cabinet. It locates her appointments against the backdrop of the Brexit referendum and compares them to those of other Prime Ministers who took office during the lifetime of a parliament. The scale of May’s reconstruction marks her out as one of the readier ‘butchers’ of Downing Street. It demonstrated her acceptance of the Brexit referendum result, signalled a clear break with Cameron and served to consolidate her power base. It also demonstrated the huge potential leeway enjoyed by new Prime Ministers. However, while wholesale ministerial butchery can be empowering, demonstrations of ruthlessness are no guarantee for future power.

Rebel Rebel. Do Primary Elections Affect Legislators’ Behaviour? Insights from Italy


MPs elected in 2013 Italian parliamentary elections have been selected through three main procedures: open primaries, closed primaries and exclusive methods, meaning that they have been appointed directly by the party élites or party leaders. This peculiar layout of the Italian Parliament offers the opportunity to analyse the impact on the parliamentary behaviour of different selection methods within the same political context. Drawing from a large and original data set including parliamentary behaviour of all the Italian MPs elected in 2013 parliamentary elections, this article addresses the impact of candidate selection methods by focusing on the dimension of party unity. Our hypothesis is that inclusive procedures for selecting candidates may entail a low party unity degree, namely a higher MPs’ propensity to rebellion from party line. The analysis shows that the selection methods affect only marginally MPs’ parliamentary behaviour and not always in the expected direction.

Why is the Spanish Upper Chamber So Difficult to Reform?


As in other countries, the Spanish upper chamber is facing harsh criticisms. It has failed to fulfil its constitutional task as a chamber of territorial representation. Notwithstanding a number of proposed reforms, the Senado has remained almost unchanged since its creation in 1978. So why is it so difficult to restructure this chamber? This research aims to explain the impasse of the reform of the Senate through evaluating three approaches. After stressing the qualities and defects of the legal inheritance and party bargaining frameworks, this article argues that the joint-decision trap perspective can help to understand the two-fold dynamic of institutional obstruction and incremental change that has affected the Spanish Senate for the last 20 years.

Political Parties and MPs’ Morality Policy Voting Behaviour: Evidence from Germany


This article investigates the impact of party membership on MPs’ morality policy voting behaviour, going beyond the common dichotomy of left and right parties and differentiating the preferences of other party families (e.g. Christian democrats, Liberals and Greens) regarding abortion, stem-cell research and euthanasia. We argue that parties generally face a ‘self-determination vs. protection of life’ trade-off. In the case of embryo research, however, a party’s economic preferences and its position towards the freedom of research come into play, too. Exploring eight free votes in Germany after 1990, our analysis identifies party membership as the key determinant, supporting the claim that parties are groups of people who share common values. Moreover, we corroborate our subfield-specific argument, as regarding stem-cell research, Christian democrats vote less conservative and the liberal position of Greens even reverses.

A Successful Defence: the 2016 National Assembly for Wales Election


The fifth election to the Welsh Assembly was held in May 2016. This article first outlines the political background to the election, before going on to assess the content and conduct of the election campaign. The results are then examined in detail: these show that while Labour’s vote share fell considerably, it comfortably retained its position as the largest party in the Assembly. None of Labour’s traditional rivals made significant ground, while United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) replaced the Liberal Democrats as the fourth party in the Assembly. Welsh Election Study data is then used to model the main factors shaping patterns of party support in the election. Modelling of vote choice in Wales in 2016 points to the continuing importance relevance of factors associated with ‘valence politics’ models, in particular leadership. Finally, the conclusion assesses the implications of the election for the future of party politics in Wales.

Voting Behaviour on Free Votes: Simply a Matter of Preferences?


Previous research examining the outcomes of free votes concludes that voting behaviour is determined in large part by MPs’ personal preferences. However, most studies do not measure preferences directly and ignore other possible determinants of voting behaviour. This article illustrates the need to address these shortcomings before one concludes that preferences explain the outcomes of free votes. I illustrate this by examining a series of divisions on the issue of House of Lords reform. Using direct measures of preferences and controlling for alternative explanations, the analysis suggests MPs’ preferences had little effect on voting behaviour on this issue.

Politicisation Without Party Discipline. A New Perspective on Christian Democracy in Modern Times


Scholars of morality politics have argued that while secular parties politicise value-driven issues, Christian Democrats are more reluctant to do so. By investigating the individual cosponsoring of proposals on conscience issues in the German Bundestag between 2005 and 2009, we show that Christian Democrats use their freedom in this context and engage more frequently in politicising moral issues than deputies of secular parties. However, MP’s engagement is also shaped by their religious denomination and the policy-specific issue salience. These findings enrich our understanding of the ‘Christian-Democratic Phoenix’ in modern times and shed new light on the motives that drive agenda setting of morality issues in the parliamentary arena.