Costly Signals: Voter Responses to Parliamentary Dissent in Austria, Britain, and Germany

Abstract: When Members of Parliament (MPs) disagree publicly with their party, this provides a signal to voters regarding both their political views and their character valence. We argue that the strength of this signal to voters depends on the personal career costs an MP incurs by dissenting. The greater the perceived costs of dissent to the MP, the more positively voters should react to dissent. In line with this theory, we use a series of conjoint analysis experiments in Britain, Germany, and Austria to show that: (1) dissent has a more positive effect on voter evaluations in systems where the costs of dissent are higher, and (2) more costly types of dissent have a greater impact on voter evaluations. These findings have important implications for understanding how voter evaluations of MPs depend on beliefs about parliamentary systems and how parliamentary institutions condition the link between voters and MPs.


License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative
Pedagogical Note Not Yet