Legislator Activities and Electoral Performance

Funding: NKFIH 
Duration: January 1, 2016 — May 31, 2018 (28 months)

In some political systems, Members of Parliament (MPs) are viewed as single-minded seekers of re-election, increasing their visibility according to the electoral calendar. In others, is their loyalty to political parties that might explain their success of remaining in office. Studies are yet to confirm the impact of MPs’ activities on their electoral performance. The “Legislator Activities and Electoral Performance” project, carried out by Zsófia Papp, seeks to trace how this connection is forged, a step forward in her research on campaign personalization and constituency orientation in Hungary.

Papp argues that investigating these connections in a mixed-member electoral system is relevant because it enables students to test the impact of two different political rules within the same electoral and cultural context. Single-member districts promoting voters as the main principals of legislators, and closed party lists strengthening the position parties in their relations to representatives raise the question of whom MPs make promises to: citizens, their parties, or both?

Going further in these assumptions, Papp breaks down the work legislators do, its determinants, and whether their variance and magnitude affect MPs’ electoral performance. For that, three types of data are collected for three electoral terms (1998-2010): information about MPs’ activities in parliament, their capacity to attract resources for their constituencies, and basic electoral data.

The research is timely because even in systems where electoral rules or special circumstances support party representation, some forms of personal representation should be detectable. This hints not only at how well the personal accountability of MPs works in a given country, but also sheds light on how political representation manifests. Papp addresses these questions once the project concludes, through journal articles and conferences.

Principal investigator (PI):

Zsófia Papp   
Research Fellow
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