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Party Switching, Party Systems, and Political Representation

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Abstract

The literature on parties and party systems assumes that electoral competition and intraparty policy deliberations are the two primary mechanisms for making parties responsive to public opinion. By implication, this suggests that little else happens between elections to keep politicians responsive to voters. The recent work on party switching, however, has begun to analyze how the reaffiliations of politicians that occur between elections constitute a third, and so far largely overlooked, mechanism of political representation (Kato 1998; Laver and Benoit 2003, 215–216; Zielinski, Slomczynski, and Shabad 2005). The growing literature on party switching has analyzed its import for representation in various ways. Most scholars have concentrated on its representational consequences in the legislative arena and legislative-executive relations by analyzing how switching affects committee assignments, roll-call voting, coalition formation, and ministerial portfolio assignments (Desposato 2006; Grose and Yoshinaka 2003; Heller and Mershon 2005; Mershon and Shvetsova 2008; Nokken 2000). A smaller number of scholars have investigated how party switching affects the larger dynamics of party systems.

Keywords

  • Vote Share
  • Party System
  • Political Representation
  • Strategic Vote
  • Electoral Competition

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

We would like to thank Carol Mershon and Will Heller for their thoughtful comments. Research for this chapter was supported by Estonian Targeted Financing Grants 0182573 and 0180128.

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© 2009 William B. Heller and Carol Mershon

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Kreuzer, M., Pettai, V. (2009). Party Switching, Party Systems, and Political Representation. In: Heller, W.B., Mershon, C. (eds) Political Parties and Legislative Party Switching. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230622555_10

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