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Koß, Michael; Ohliger, Veronika (2017): Why would legislators (not) empower themselves? Evidence from the British House of Commons. ECPR General Conference, 06. - 09. September 2017, Oslo.
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Access to plenary proceedings is a necessary condition for the most important strategic goals of legislators: in order to emphasize their responsiveness vis-à-vis their electorates and ultimately ensure re-election, they need to be able to participate in the public plenary proceedings. Similarly, in order to affect the decisions taken on the parliamentary floor, the need to influence the topics discussed on the floor. However, these strategic goals might clash with legislators’ desire to hold (government) offices. This paper explores the relation of legislators’ vote-, policy-, and office-seeking ambitions in an analysis of two procedural proposals aiming to give backbench members of parliament (MPs) more influence on plenary proceedings in the British House of Commons. Why did a majority of MPs vote against more procedural rights for individual legislators in 1986 and for a similar proposal in 2010? To provide an explanation for these contradicting decisions on the level of individual MPs, we evaluate the relative importance of (a) party affiliation, (b) government or opposition status, (c) seat marginality, (d) current and (e) future status of MPs as frontbencher or backbencher in explaining legislators’ decisions. Our logistic regression analysis suggests that backbench MPs in marginal seats were the crucial group which switched from rejection to support procedural reform between the 1986 and the 2010 decisions. This suggests that legislators vote-seeking concerns rather than their preference for policy- or office-seeking is able to explain their position on procedural reform. (Presented by Veronika Ohliger)