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Essays in legislative politics: legislative leaders and Parliamentary behaviour

Blumenau, Jack (2016) Essays in legislative politics: legislative leaders and Parliamentary behaviour. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The essays in this thesis explore the effects of legislative leaders on the behaviour of parliamentarians in the European Parliament and the UK House of Commons, and the consequences of this relationship for parliamentary outcomes. The first paper argues that when party leaders are motivated to maintain the voting cohesion of their legislative contingents, and when disciplinary resources are in short supply, leaders may block policy proposals that threaten to divide their members. Accordingly, as the preferences of party members become more diffuse, agenda setting party leaders will be able to maintain cohesion but the actions they take to do so may contribute to the overall level of gridlock in the legislature. I introduce new data and methods to evaluate these relationships in the European Parliament, where agenda control and ‘carrot and stick’ disciplinary powers are held by different sets of parliamentary actors. The second paper argues that by making the status quo less attractive and by increasing legislators’ tolerance to new policies, external crises empower leaders who have the ability to propose legislation. In the context of the European Union’s response to the 2008 financial crisis, I combine topic modelling with a two-stage least squares procedure to show that voting coalitions in the European Parliament changed after the crisis in ways consistent with the theoretical model. The implication of the analysis is that prointegration agenda-setters were able to pass legislation in the post-crisis period that would have been impossible to pass in the absence of the crisis. In the third paper, I argue that when members of previously under-represented groups are appointed to positions of high office within the legislature, they can serve as role models to their fellow group members. Using a difference-in-differences design, I demonstrate that the appointment of a female cabinet minister in the UK House of Commons leads to an increase in the participation of other female members of parliament in legislative debates. Furthermore, I develop a novel approach for measuring the influence of legislators in debate, and use this to show that female members of parliament also become more influential following the appointment of a female minister. In exploring the mechanisms that underpin this role-model effect, I introduce an additional quantitative measure which reveals that female ministers are more responsive to the speeches made by female legislators than are male ministers. Taken together, these papers provide important theoretical arguments and empirical evidence concerning the central role that leaders play in the legislative process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2016 Jack Blumenau
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Hobolt, Sara and Hix, Simon

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