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How does staggered membership renewal affect parliamentary behaviour? Evidence from the French Senate

  • David M. Willumsen (a1) and Klaus H. Goetz (a2)

Abstract

The staggered renewal of parliamentary mandates is widespread in upper chambers, yet little understood. Comparative work has found that all members of a chamber are affected by upcoming elections, not merely those whose terms are up for renewal. In this study, we explore for which activities, and under which conditions, staggered membership renewal is associated with class-specific parliamentary activity, defined as systematically differing behaviour across two or more classes of members. We examine these questions with data on the French Senate. Drawing on insights from the study of political business cycles, legislative cycles, and previous scholarship on staggering, the article shows that behaviour varies over the course of senators’ mandates, and that class-specific behaviour exists. However, staggering produces a different pattern of parliamentary activity than might be expected: proximity to elections reduces parliamentary activity of the class of senators facing re-election; by contrast, senators ‘not up next’ become more active. This effect, we argue, reflects the electoral system under which senators are elected.

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References

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