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Shirking and Slacking in Parliament

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Frech Elena, Goet Niels, Hug Simon,
Project Parliamentary Careers in Comparison
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Legislative Studies Quarterly
Title of proceedings Legislative Studies Quarterly

Open Access

Type of Open Access Repository (Green Open Access)


How and why do the activities of members of parliament (MPs) change in response to electoral constraints? In this paper, we draw on unique and newly collected data from the Swiss federal chambers and two cantonal parliaments (Basel-Stadt and Basel-Land) to explore the effects of electoral constraints. Leveraging variation in mandatory term limits, we study the extent to which term-limited MPs engage in shirking---i.e. move away from their principal, whether it be the party and/or voters---and slacking---i.e. reduce their parliamentary activities. Our analysis, which draws on a combination of novel roll-call votes and speech data, yields mixed results: while there is no evidence of shirking by term-limited MPs in the cantonal parliaments, we find some indications of such behavior amongst term-limited legislators in the federal chambers. These latter legislators also engage is some limited slacking, which is not observable in the cantonal parliaments. These findings shed light on the (political) implications of term limits, and the effect of electoral constraints on legislator behaviour.