Dissent in Parliament as Reputation Building

32 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2013 Last revised: 5 Mar 2014

See all articles by Brandon Schaufele

Brandon Schaufele

University of Western Ontario - Richard Ivey School of Business

Date Written: March 5, 2014


The influence of local politics is often dismissed in parliamentary systems. Parliamentary democracies are characterized by the double monopoly of power and high degrees of party cohesion are observed as Members of Parliament (MPs) face strong incentives to vote along party lines. Dissenting votes, whereby individual MPs vote against their party's position, are overt displays of defiance by Members. In the vast majority of situations, dissension yields no change in legislative outcome but may provide a mechanism for MPs to signal to constituents. A model is developed where MPs dissent in response to local political conditions. Using all 32,216 observations at the MP-bill-vote level for the 39th Parliament of Canada, I show that MPs whose previous election was competitive are 13 percent more likely to dissent and 2.3 percent more likely to defect on any given vote, results which suggest that local politics matter more than previously believed.

Keywords: Canadian Parliament, dissent, elections, local politics, politician behavior, reputation

JEL Classification: D72, D78, H19

Suggested Citation

Schaufele, Brandon, Dissent in Parliament as Reputation Building (March 5, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2317466 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2317466

Brandon Schaufele (Contact Author)

University of Western Ontario - Richard Ivey School of Business ( email )

1151 Richmond Street North
London, Ontario N6A 3K7

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