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Title: Legislative behaviour in Chile : three essays examining the effects of presidentialism and party politics on Chilean members of Congress
Author: Dockendorff, Andres
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 0382
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation analyses the effects of presidential and party politics on Chilean members of the National Congress. The motivation for this research comes from a couple of simple observations. Worldwide, legislative scholars, journalists and the public all make similar judgements about members of democratic assemblies' motivations: legislators are viewed as electorally opportunistic individuals, ready to take advantage of the chance to foster their electoral interests when they arise, sometimes regardless of principle or ideology. Indeed, the cornerstone assumption of legislative studies is the 'electoral connection': legislators are viewed as single-minded seekers of re-election (Mayhew 1974). The above has exerted an enormous influence on explanations for why legislators spend time and effort on activities to satisfy the goal of re-election (members' strategies) and why legislators support some policies and not others (policy outcomes). However, the conventional 'electoral connection frame', upon which the scholarly understanding relies to explain behavioural dynamics and outcomes in democratic assemblies, has two main shortcomings. Firstly, it is too simplistic to assume that members of democratic assemblies are equally opportunistic individuals. In fact, both anecdotal evidence and previous research show that while some legislators allocate more resources and effort to activities that please their constituents back home (such as case work, constituency service etc.), others spend more time and effort on national issues, lobbying government officials and drafting policy. Secondly, it is analytically crude to draw a direct line between electoral incentives and policy outcomes in democratic assemblies. Indeed, in some legislative environments, institutions make the translation of legislators' electoral incentives into policy difficult. Three main questions are discussed in this study: What explains variance in constituency service when electoral rules have a constant effect across members and parties control lawmakers' careers? Why do legislators devote considerable energy to legislative activities when those actions do not allow them to communicate to their voters back home that they are working for them? And what explains the passage of legislators sponsored bills in parallel to the government when institutions do not allow for particularistic exchanges? The models I put forward in this dissertation provide answers to those questions, suggesting an alternative rationale for explaining legislators' behaviour, party strategy and legislative outcomes. The models are tested in Chile, an institutional environment with the features outlined above: constant effect of electoral rules on legislators; a party-constrained legislative environment; and absence of legislative particularism. Firstly, constituency service or when legislators represent their voters is said to be an important aspect of the legislative world. In this dissertation, it is argued that constituency focus in Chile is better understood by the parliamentary role framework. Secondly, initiating pieces of legislation is part of a lawmakers' job description. Bill initiation is usually understood as a form of constituency service. In this research, legislators' legislative activity (bill initiation) is conceived as a form of party service of Chilean deputies with ambition of promotion to higher office. Thirdly, the legislature production of policies sponsored by the lawmakers is better understood here as investments in the organization institutionalization rather than as sub products of legislators' particularistic exchanges.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: JA Political science (General)