Using parliamentary questions to measure constituency orientation
Martin, Shane G. (2010) Using parliamentary questions to measure constituency orientation. Working Papers in International Studies Series. (Paper No. 2010-4). Centre for International Studies, Dublin City University, Ireland.
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Individual legislators differ in the degree to which they work to cultivate personal votes. While conventional wisdom declares that the electoral system typically motivates the choice of legislative role, researchers have found difficulty assessing empirically the role-orientation of legislators. This study suggests using content analysis of parliamentary questions as a mechanism to measure variations in personal vote earning strategies. To demonstrate the usefulness of this approach, and the constituency-orientation of Irish parliamentarians, 123,762 questions tabled by Dáil Deputies between 1997 and 2002 are analysed. While evidence of some orientation toward localism is apparent, the data suggests significant variations in role-orientation within the chamber. Explanations of intra-system variation in personal vote earning effort are hypothesised and tested. Characteristics such as electoral vulnerability, geography, intra-party competition and career only partially explain the variation. The results highlight the need to move beyond using electoral rules as a general proxy for role-orientation.
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