Economics of Governance

, Volume 9, Issue 4, pp 363–392 | Cite as

To dissent or not to dissent? Informative dissent and parliamentary governance

  • Indridi H. Indridason
Original Paper


Legislative dissent has detrimental effects for both party and legislator, i.e., legislators depend on their party label for re-election, which value in turn depends in part on the party’s reputation of cohesiveness. Commonly dissent has been attributed to “extreme” preferences. I provide an informational rationale for dissent. Costly dissent allows the legislator to credibly signal information about his constituency’s preferences to the Cabinet. As a result the Cabinet can better calibrate its policies with the electorate’s preferences. Dissent is shown to depend on policy preferences as well a the legislators’ electoral strength, electoral volatility, and the cost of dissent. Finally, the results suggests that parties may sometimes benefit from tolerating some level of dissent.


Dissent Parliamentary government Intra-party politics Cabinets 

JEL Classification

C72 D72 D82 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland
  2. 2.Department of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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