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Determining Constituency Marginality in the UK Using the Expense Claims of MPs


  • Tim Bale

    (University of Sussex)

  • Barry Reilly

    (University of Sussex)

  • Robert Witt

    (University of Surrey)


A United Kingdom (UK) parliamentary seat is commonly referred to as ‘marginal’ if the majority is less than 10% of votes cast thus rendering the seat vulnerable on a swing of 5%. This paper investigates whether the spending behaviour of MPs on selected constituency service expenditure categories can offer insights on what constitutes a ‘marginal’ seat within the UK ‘first-past-the-post’ electoral system. The possible existence of a non-linear relationship between the expense claims of MPs and the size of the constituency majority provides the basis for such an insight. This paper thus investigates the empirical nature of this non-linear relationship using separate specifications based on quadratic and piece-wise linear splines in constituency majority size. The empirical analysis reported for the behavior of MPs appears broadly consistent with the conventional definition used to classify a ‘marginal’ constituency in the UK.

Suggested Citation

  • Tim Bale & Barry Reilly & Robert Witt, 2008. "Determining Constituency Marginality in the UK Using the Expense Claims of MPs," School of Economics Discussion Papers 0108, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
  • Handle: RePEc:sur:surrec:0108

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    More about this item


    marginality; expense claims; postage; stationery; Members of Parliament;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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