Seminar with Matthew Bergman (University of Vienna)

Title of the presentation: "Small Party Legislative Strategies: Committee Placement in Mixed Member Proportional Systems"


This article assesses the patterns in which small parties assign their legislative personnel to parliamentary committees in mixed-member proportional systems. Recent research has demonstrated parties are strategic in the process of legislative appointment, assessing the personal attributes of MPs (occupation, gender, and local experience) and their electoral circumstances (constituency characteristics and marginal of victory). Small parties face unique constraints due to limited resources when it comes to legislative placements, in the extreme, small parties may even be constrained in their ability to send a delegation to each legislative committee. Thus, they might not be able to engage with multiple party strategies and instead prioritize some strategies over others. Acknowledging the voteseeking incentives of small parties, we differentiate between those that are more office-seeking and those that are more policy-seeking. Office-seeking parties use the benefits of office to reward their electoral constituencies. Policy-seeking parties, instead, aim to demonstrate their expertise and competence in managing specific policy issues. Our analysis covers legislators from six small parties across 10 parliaments in two established parliamentary democracies with mixed-member proportional systems. Indeed we find that small parties do not follow a single strategy of legislative placement of committee members. Instead, those who are office-seeking with experience in executive office tend to rely upon legislative committee placement strategies that will gain targeted votes in specific constituencies whereby those parties with a policy-seeking and clear issue ownership brand are more likely to focus on demonstrating their policy competence and expertise. Our results have implications for research on party competition, political representation, legislative organization, issue ownership strategies, and the increasing interest in smaller and non-mainstream parties.

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Published Sep. 8, 2022 4:03 PM - Last modified Nov. 8, 2022 1:49 PM