Career Ambitions and Legislative Participation: The Moderating Effect of Electoral Institutions
Posted: 17 Jun 2013
Date Written: June 7, 2013
In multi-level political systems politicians are faced with several possible career paths, as they can advance their careers at either the lower (state) or higher (federal) level. Career ambitions lead representatives to carefully adapt their behavior to maximize their chances of being re-elected and promoted to higher office at their preferred level of government. We argue that the design of the electoral institutions influences how politicians respond to these incentives. Analyzing a unique dataset of both ‘stated’ and ‘revealed’ career ambitions of Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) we find that politicians seeking high political office in their home state reduce their legislative participation in the European Parliament, whereas politicians who seek to further their careers at the European level increase their legislative engagement. In addition, we find that this latter effect is strongest for politicians elected in party-centered electoral systems. This finding has implications for the literature on electoral institutions and legislative behavior.
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