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Scholars of legislative politics often note the many differences between the British House of Commons and the United States House of Representatives. These include differences in party strength, members' partisan loyalty on votes, and general institutional structure. Because of these differences, scholars have rarely compared these chambers directly. This Element aims to do precisely that. The authors point out the many similar motivations of members in both chambers, and leverage these similar motivations to theorize that member ideology, as well as how party agenda interact to produce party disloyalty. Using data on legislative voting following changes in agenda control, the authors demonstrate that ideological extremists in both the US and UK use party disloyalty to connect with ideologically extreme constituents. The similarities in patterns across these chambers suggest that legislative scholars have much to gain by considering the commonalities across American and British politics, and in general, by thinking more frequently about US legislative politics in a comparative context.
Political scientists use expert surveys to assess the latent features of political actors. Experts, though, are unlikely to be equally informed and assess all actors equally well. The literature acknowledges variance in measurement quality but pays little attention to the implications of uncertainty for aggregating responses. We discuss the nature of the measurement problem in expert surveys. We then propose methods to assess the ability of experts to judge where actors stand and to aggregate expert responses. We examine the effects of aggregation for a prominent survey in the literature on party politics and EU integration. Using a Monte Carlo simulation, we demonstrate that it is better to aggregate expert responses using the median or modal response, rather than the mean.
Strong party discipline is a core feature of Westminster parliamentary systems. Parties typically compel members of Parliament (MPs) to support the party regardless of MPs’ individual preferences. Rebellion, however, does occur. Using an original dataset of MP votes and speeches in the British House of Commons from 1992 to 2015, coupled with new estimations of MPs’ ideological positions within their party, we find evidence that MPs use rebellion strategically to differentiate themselves from their party. The strategy that MPs employ is contingent upon an interaction of ideological extremity with party control of government. Extremists are loyal when their party is in the opposition, but these same extremists become more likely to rebel when their party controls government. Additionally, they emphasize their rebellion through speeches. Existing models of rebellion and party discipline do not account for government agenda control and do not explain these patterns.
Parliamentary debate is a fundamental aspect of democratic law-making. While law makers everywhere seek to express their views in parliament, there are large discrepancies in who has access to the floor across political systems. This book explains how parties and their members of parliament (MPs) structure parliamentary debate. Parties may actively seek to prevent some members from taking the floor while promoting opportunities for others. In doing so, they attempt to control the message that their partisans convey in parliament. The authors provide a theoretical model to explain the design of procedural rules in parliament, how the party leadership interacts with rebel backbenchers, and how MPs represent voters. The book explores political institutions, intra-party politics, electoral politics and legislative behavior. It develops and tests a new theory of parliamentary debate, using data from the UK, Germany, New Zealand and the European Parliament.