Working Paper No. 1320

Does a District-Vote Matter for the Behavior of Politicians? A Textual Analysis of Parliamentary Speeches

Published: February 24, 2020Pages: 32Keywords: Party-line; Textual Analysis; Regression Discontinuity; Parliamentary Speeches; VotingJEL-codes: D72

Does a District-Vote Matter for the Behavior of Politicians? A Textual Analysis of Parliamentary Speeches Andreas Born and Aljoscha Janssen


In most democracies, members of parliament are either elected over a party list or by a district. We use a discontinuity in the German parliamentary system to investigate the causal effect of a district-election on an MP’s conformity with her party-line. A district-election does not affect roll call voting behavior causally, possibly due to overall high adherence to party voting.

Analyzing the parliamentary speeches of each MP allows us to overcome the high party discipline with regard to parliamentary voting. Using textual analysis and machine learning techniques, we create two measures of closeness of an MP’s speeches to her party. We find that district-elected members of parliament do not differ, in terms of speeches, from those of their party-peers who have been elected through closed party lists. However, both speeches and voting correlate with district characteristics suggesting that district-elections allow districts to select more similar politicians.


Reference:

Born, Andreas and Aljoscha Janssen (2020), "Does a District-Vote Matter for the Behavior of Politicians? A Textual Analysis of Parliamentary Speeches". IFN Working Paper No. 1320. Stockholm: Research Institute of Industrial Economics.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State

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This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

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