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Legislative Effects of Electoral Mandates

  • Santiago Olivella and Margit Tavits

Data has been taken from the Hungarian National Assembly, where the mandate type (single member district (SMD) vs. party list or proportional representation (PR)) changes for a number of legislators each term, to explore whether and how such changes lead to changes in legislators’ voting behavior. When the electoral system under which a legislator was elected changes from PR to SMD, then the rate at which the legislator defects against the party line of voting increases significantly. Contrary to expectations, when the electoral system changes from SMD to PR, there is no significant change in the voting behavior of legislators. Additional robustness tests confirm these results. The lasting influence of reputations and habits may account for the asymmetric results.

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Washington University in St. Louis (emails:, We would like to thank Larry Bartels, Ken Benoit, André Blais, Dawn Brancati, Joshua Clinton, Brian Crisp, Pamela Edwards-Ham, Simon Hix, Matt Gabel, Indridi Indridason, Nate Jensen, Cindy Kam, Richard Katz, Gail McElroy, Bruce Oppenheimer, Andrew Reynolds, Guillermo Rosas, Susan Scarrow, Dawn Teele, and Alan Wiseman, whose comments and critiques have helped significantly to improve this article. Earlier versions of it were presented at the University of Mannheim, Vanderbilt University, Washington University, the 2011 Midwest Political Science Association meeting in Chicago, the 2011 European Political Science Association meeting in Dublin, the 2011 American Political Science Association meeting in Seattle, and at the workshop on Electoral Reform and Political Representation at Washington University. The authors are grateful to participants in these events for their comments and to Agnes Simon for valuable research assistance. Financial support for the project was provided by the Weidenbaum Center. An online appendix with supplementary information, as well as replication data and code, is available at or at

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