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Legislative Parties and the Cost of Discipline

Fri, September 1, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Hilton Union Square, Franciscan D


There is a significant literature on the causes of legislative party indiscipline (e.g., Carey 2009, Kam 2009). Understanding indiscipline is important, assuming that it creates costs for political actors. This paper analyzes the costs of indiscipline for legislative parties. One assumption is that indiscipline undermines the ability of parties to achieve their preferred policy positions either through the inability to pass legislation or through the high costs paid to overcome opposition. Yet, we know that indiscipline is often a reflection of the cross pressuring caused by constituent interests in some systems. Maintaining discipline could, theoretically, undermine electoral success if parties force some legislators to heel.

Using roll-call and electoral data from the Ukrainian Rada (1998-2014), I will show that parties are forced to accept indiscipline in order to maintain seat share. Parties, therefore, are willing to allow indiscipline in order to maximize seats.