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Timing Matters: Incentives for Party Switching and Stages of Parliamentary Cycles

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Abstract

Virtually all political scientists maintain that democratic political life depends on political parties. Precisely because parties are fundamental to democracy, we and the other contributors to this book probe changes of party affiliation among elected politicians. This chapter is distinctive in that it links the phenomenon of party switching to the stage in the parliamentary cycle. Our goal here is two-fold. On one hand, our research is the first to explore whether and how patterns in switching behavior differ systematically across distinct stages of the legislative term—for instance, one stage devoted to committee assignments, early in the term, and another at the end of the term, dominated by the view of elections on the horizon (Mershon and Shvetsova 2005; 2008a; 2008b; cf. Desposato, this volume). On the other hand, linking changes of party affiliation to the period when benefits are available provides direct confirmation for the main theoretical premise shared by all of this volume’s contributors, namely, that politicians switch parties for opportunistic reasons. In a nutshell, we seek to gain leverage on the question of why legislators switch by asking when they switch.

Keywords

  • Party System
  • Proportional Representation
  • Timing Matter
  • Party Affiliation
  • Parliamentary Election

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.

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© 2009 William B. Heller and Carol Mershon

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Mershon, C., Shvetsova, O. (2009). Timing Matters: Incentives for Party Switching and Stages of Parliamentary Cycles. In: Heller, W.B., Mershon, C. (eds) Political Parties and Legislative Party Switching. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230622555_8

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