Party Discipline and Parliamentary Politics

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One of the chief tasks facing political leaders is to build and maintain unity within their parties. This text examines the relationship between party leaders and Members of Parliament in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, showing how the two sides interact and sometimes clash. Christopher J. Kam demonstrates how incentives for MPs to dissent from their parties have been amplified by a process of partisan dealignment that has created electorates of non-partisan voters who reward shows of political independence. Party leaders therefore rely on a mixture of strategies to offset these electoral pressures, from offering MPs advancement to threatening discipline, and ultimately relying on a long-run process of socialization to temper their MPs' dissension. Kam reveals the underlying structure of party unity in modern Westminster parliamentary politics, and drives home the point that social norms and socialization reinforce rather than displace appeals to MPs' self-interest.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Party discipline is a key element in Westminster systems and Kam makes a major step forward in formalizing our understanding of this. An exceedingly thoughtful book.”
Shaun Bowler, University of California, Riverside

“This is a landmark text in the study of comparative parliamentary behaviour. It is the first book to develop and test a micro-level theory of internal party politics in parliaments using roll-call data from several parliaments. If Kam is right, that parliamentary parties are no-longer unitary actors and that party cohesion is fragile and conditional, this calls into question much of the established wisdom about how parliamentary government works.”
Simon Hix, Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics and Political Science

“This is a major work. It brings the study of dissent in Westminster-style parliaments from anecdotage to data, and from data to analysis.”
Iain McLean, Professor of Politics, Oxford University

"Among the work's strengths is its thoughtful, logical model, along with the author's clear and helpful guidance in testing key ideas through sophisticated statistical analyses...This book is mandatory reading for all serious students of institutional politics, and also probably will prove quite useful in senior methodology and research design courses."
Political Science Quarterly, Cristine de Clercy, University of Western Ontario

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107402690
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 7/21/2011
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 278
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Christopher J. Kam is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. He has received major research grants from the US National Science Foundation and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and his work on political parties and parliamentary government has appeared in the British Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, and Governance.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. A model of intra-party politics; 3. Patterns of backbench dissent in four Westminster parliamentary systems, 1945–2005; 4. Policy preferences and backbench dissent in Great Britain and Canada; 5. Dissent, constituency service, and the personal vote in Great Britain and New Zealand; 6. The cost of dissent to the party; 7. Demotion and dissent in the Canadian Liberal Party, 1991–7; 8. Discipline and dissent in the Australian Coalition, 1996–8; 9. Career trajectories, socialization, and backbench dissent in the British House of Commons; 10. Conclusion; Appendix 1. Comparative statics and proofs; Appendix 2. Content and construction of ideological scales; Appendix 3. Sampling and coding of media dissent and discipline; Appendix 4. Demotion and the parliamentary careers of Canadian MPs; References; Index.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2013

    To someone

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