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Explaining voting behaviour on free votes: Solely a matter of preference?

Abstract

While studies examining free votes find MPs’ preferences influence their voting behaviour, most studies also show MPs tend to divide along party lines even after the whips have been withdrawn. Recent work offers a possible alternative explanation for this finding: this sustained party cohesion represents the impact of MPs’ party identification similar to party identification effects in the electorate. This argument is tested using a series of free votes on same-sex relations. Even after controlling for preferences using several direct measures, party continues to shape voting behaviour. Although indirect, this provides evidence in favour of the party-as-identification argument.

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Acknowledgement

We would like to thank Pippa Norris for generously sharing the data of the British Representation Study with us. All responsibility for their use, and especially any errors, belongs to us.

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Correspondence to Christopher D. Raymond.

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Raymond, C.D., Worth, R.M. Explaining voting behaviour on free votes: Solely a matter of preference?. Br Polit 12, 555–564 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-016-0023-7

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Keywords

  • free votes
  • preferences
  • party identification
  • UK parliament