Constituency preferences and MP preferences: the electoral connection1
Simon Hug2 and Danielle Martin
First version: December 2010, this version: Jan 2, 2011
The question how constituency preferences relate to the preferences of
members of parliament has attracted scholarly attention for some time.
The relationship between the two sets of preferences is clearly
influenced by the mediating electoral system. Empirical studies of this
nexus are, however, plague by serious measurement problems. More
specifically, most studies rely on more or less similar survey measures
for both sets of actors with all the known drawbacks and problems. While
behaviorial data may be used in most countries to infer MPs'
preferences, similar date fails to exist for voters making up the MPs'
constituencies. We employ a novel dataset on voting behavior by MPs in
the two chambers of the Swiss parliament which are selected with the
help of different electoral systems, and combine this with voting
decisions by the constituencies on identical issues in referendums. This
allows us to make inferences on the basis of identical behaviorial data,
and we find that MPs elected in proportional representation are more
widely dispersed around the median voter of their constituencies.
1The Swiss National
Science Foundation (Grant No 100012-111909) provided generous funding.
2 Département de science politique, Faculté des
sciences économiques et sociales; Université de Genève; 40 Bd du Pont
d'Arve; 1211 Genève 4; Switzerland; phone ++41 22 379 83 78; email:
File translated from
On 2 Jan 2011, 14:08.