Modeling the Legislator as an Agent for the Party: The Effects of Strict Party Discipline on Legislator Voting Behavior
This article argues that in legislative systems where absolute party discipline is present, the only means by which a legislator can dissent from the party position is to abstain from voting. It is argued that abstentions are more likely to occur where the party-imposed position causes conflict for the legislator-either because the party-imposed position conflicts with the interests of the legislator's constituents or because it conflicts with the legislator's personal ideology. The hypothesis is empirically tested by examining voting in the Canadian House of Commons on the bill to implement the politically controversial Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. The empirical results lend general support to the theoretical notions. (JEL "D70", "D72") Copyright 2003 Western Economic Association International.
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