Tuesday Seminar – 24 November

Dyadic Representation in Canadian Parliamentary Debates

Florence Vallée-Dubois (Université de Montréal)

Dyadic representation rests on the incentives of representatives to attend to the interests of their constituents in single-member district electoral systems. But party discipline greatly limits dyadic representation. In Westminster style parliamentary systems, for example, members are expected to toe the party line, which may limit their ability to support constituents’ interests in the legislature. Can members of Parliament still act as good representatives in this context? This paper provides a hard test of the theory of dyadic representation by drawing on the Canadian case, a country where party discipline is omnipresent and unwhipped divisions are extremely rare. Using automated text analysis and an original dataset combining population demographics, legislators’ profiles and the content of parliamentary debates, I find evidence that members of the Canadian House of Commons are attentive to the interests of their constituents when making speeches in the legislature. This finding helps to restore confidence in the work of private members in Westminster legislatures and contributes to the study of democratic representation in general.

Contact Semih Çakır if you would like to participate in the seminar.

This content has been updated on 23 November 2020 at 12 h 21 min.