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In many countries legislators switch parties between elections. This raises normative concerns related to issues of representation and accountability. To date, the literature explains party switching almost exclusively in terms of the factors that lead a legislator to want to change party. However, this approach ignores the fact that we only observe party switching when a legislator wants to switch parties and when a party is willing to accept the legislator. In this dissertation, I present a formal model of party switching that recognizes the strategic nature of this two-way interaction. My model demonstrates that many of the factors commonly thought to influence party switching actually have opposing effects on the potential defecting legislator and potential target party. This helps to explain many of the inconsistent and conflicting results in the existing literature. Using original data from Brazil and Romania that I collected myself, as well as a new partial observability maximum likelihood model that I developed to specifically analyze party switching, I find strong support for my model's predictions. My large N quantitative analyses are supplemented by more qualitative evidence derived from interviews that I conducted with leading political figures in Romania during my field research.
accountability, democratic representation, electoral rules, partial observability logit, party switching
Date of Defense
July 5, 2013.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of Political Science in partial fulﬁllment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Matt Golder, Professor Co-Directing Thesis; Christopher Reenock, Professor Co-Directing Thesis; Irinel Chiorescu, University Representative; David A. Siegel, Committee Member; Mark Souva, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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