Partisanship Among the Experts: The Dynamic Party Watchdog Model of IFE, 1996-2010
25 Pages Posted: 28 Sep 2010 Last revised: 16 Oct 2010
Date Written: September 22, 2010
We use a dynamic item response theory model (Martin and Quinn 2002) to investigate ideal point drift and stability in IFE's Council General, charged with federal electoral regulation and composed of non-partisan experts selected by Congress. Results indicate that stability has predominated, but that several council members drifted over time to distinct positions as revealed by their propensities to vote with or against other councilors. We present evidence about some of the factors generating such movements, highlighting two sets of countervailing influences. One set, important for the relative stability of voting patterns, is the persistent bias introduced by partisan selection of council members, particularly pronounced during election season, when the council has weak control over its agenda, but also reflecting sponsors' long-term strategic imperatives in electoral regulation. Another set of influences is related to IFE's institutional set-up, especially its committee system and the need for cooperation among councilors with divergent party sponsors. The gains from trade may be strong enough to offset partisan segmentation of the council, as was arguably the case during a five-year spell for the Woldenberg council, but not the remaining nine years examined.
Keywords: Delegation, Representation, Roll Call Votes, Ideal Point Estimation, Dynamic Model
JEL Classification: D71, D72, C11, C15
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation