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What Do Parties Do in Congress? Explaining the Allocation of Legislative Specialization

  • Ponce, Aldo F

This article studies the determinants of the concentration of legislative specialization of parties across policy jurisdictions. Greater concentration of legislative specialization leads parties to concentrate their legislative efforts on a smaller set of policy jurisdictions. Through enhancing their concentration of legislative specialization in certain policy areas, parties can more clearly signal their policy concerns and interests to voters. This study argues and shows that relatively low electoral volatility and a low number of political parties (institutional traits) boost the concentration of legislative specialization. Greater electoral stability increases the incentives for parties to specialize further on certain policy jurisdictions. I also argue and verify that lower legislative fragmentation, producing larger parties, reduces the opportunity costs of legislative specialization. As I explain below, understanding the configuration of legislative specialization might help illuminate the evolution of key characteristics of party systems such as its degree of programmaticness and its degree of institutionalization, and to which extent parties are able to construct issue ownership.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 46573.

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Date of creation: 04 Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:46573
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  1. John Creedy, 1998. "The Dynamics of Inequality and Poverty," Books, Edward Elgar, number 1484, July.
  2. Weingast, Barry R & Marshall, William J, 1988. "The Industrial Organization of Congress; or, Why Legislatures, Like Firms, Are Not Organized as Markets," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(1), pages 132-63, February.
  3. Gilligan, Thomas W & Krehbiel, Keith, 1987. "Collective Decisionmaking and Standing Committees: An Informational Rationale for Restrictive Amendment Procedures," Journal of Law, Economics and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 3(2), pages 287-335, Fall.
  4. Zellner, Arnold & Rossi, Peter E., 1984. "Bayesian analysis of dichotomous quantal response models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 25(3), pages 365-393, July.
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