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Existing research suggests that voters tend to respond positively to legislator independence due to two types of mechanism. First, dissent has an indirect effect, increasing a legislator’s media coverage and personal recognition among constituents (profile effects). Secondly, constituents react positively to dissent when this signals that the legislator has matching political or representational preferences (conditional evaluation). This article presents a third effect: dissent acts as a valence signal of integrity and trustworthiness. Consistent with the valence signalling mechanism, it uses new observational and experimental evidence to show that British voters have a strong and largely unconditional preference for legislators who dissent. The findings pose a dilemma for political systems that rely on strong and cohesive parties.
We embed a critique of the respective strengths and weaknesses of policy initiatives to ‘build the rule of law’ within the broader literature on political settlements and developmental states, thereby creating a foundation for an alternative framework that takes politics and the legitimacy of change processes seriously. Thus far the dominant terms of debate have been between those advocating or resisting the replication of legal ‘forms’ (i.e., what modern legal institutions, statutes and procedures ‘look like’, such as constitutions) via large, rapid, imported technocratic interventions, and those pushing instead for a focus on enhancing a prevailing legal system's ‘functionality’ (what the existing system actually ‘does’) via a series of local level legal empowerment programs or attempts to redefine state-society relations by adjusting legal configurations. We argue for the inclusion of a third dimension, namely one encompassing procedural legitimacy and equitable contestation as part of the change process.
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