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Dyadic representation and legislative behaviour

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Political Science - General
  • Law


This project seeks to answer two questions related to representative behaviour by MPs in Canada: 1.) What drives the legislative participation of individual representatives? and 2.) Are the actions of individual parliamentarians representative of those who elect them? Despite relatively strong institutional constraints – executive dominance and party discipline – upon individual parliamentary behaviour, there appears to be, based primarily upon Canada's Single Member Plurality electoral system, an electoral incentive for individual representatives to gain personal recognition over and above depending upon their party's profile. This incentive should accordingly increase participation and representative behaviour in policy venues that are conducive to individual representative behaviour. Here, the policy venue of focus is Private Members' Business (PMB). It should especially be true for those MPs experiencing electoral pressure that their participation in PMB reflects the “electoral connection” (Mayhew 1974) between these MPs and their constituencies. MPs' looking to bolster their electoral prospects should tend to take advantage of PMB for both advertising and position-taking opportunities. “Dyadic representation” – that is, MPs acting on behalf of their constituencies' interests – should be the result. Using statistical analyses of legislative, electoral, MP and constituency data, as well as qualitative analyses of face-to-face interviews with MPs, strong evidence is provided that suggests MPs substantively represent constituency interests through PMB, though this varies by MP and by the action taken. The analyses suggest that MPs with greater electoral pressure are more likely to engage in the more symbolic PMB avenue of motions, rather than the more time-consuming and policy-focused avenue of bills. These results indicate rather convincingly that dyadic representation does occur, and much of it appears to be the result of an electoral c

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