Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Electoral Consequences of Party Switching in Canada: 1945–2011

  • Feodor Snagovsky (a1) and Matthew Kerby (a1)
Abstract

This article addresses the overlooked subject of party switching in the Canadian House of Commons for the period 1945–2011. We estimate a model that explores how and why MPs engage in the otherwise risky behaviour of abandoning their party labels in a system characterized by a low personal vote. Our findings suggest that the electoral consequences for MPs who switch parties for policy reasons are indistinguishable from MPs who do not switch at all. By contrast, MPs who switch parties for office-related reasons, such as to accept a seat in cabinet or vote-related reasons, experience large electoral penalties. We also find that MPs who are expelled from caucus face the strongest electoral penalties of all party switchers, indicating it matters whether an MP jumps or is pushed. Our findings suggest that voters recognize opportunistic behaviour among their legislators and punish them accordingly and that under some circumstances, party switching may be both strategic and rational.

Cet article aborde le sujet négligé du changement de parti au sein de la Chambre des communes canadienne pour la période comprise entre 1945 et 2011. Nous estimons le modèle qui examine les raisons pour lesquelles les députés adoptent le comportement par ailleurs périlleux d'abandonner l’étiquette de leur parti dans un système caractérisé par le peu de poids qu'a le vote personnel. D'après nos constatations, les conséquences électorales touchant les députés qui changent d'allégeance pour des raisons politiques sont impossibles à distinguer de celles des députés qui ne l'envisagent en aucun cas. En revanche, les députés qui changent de parti pour des raisons liées à leur fonction, lors par exemple de l'acceptation d'un siège au conseil des ministres, ou bien dictées par un vote subissent de lourdes sanctions électorales. Nous constatons également que, parmi les députés qui changent de parti, les députés expulsés de leur groupe parlementaire sont sanctionnés le plus lourdement, en indiquant l'influence qu'exerce le fait de faire le saut ou d'y être poussé. Nos conclusions suggèrent que les électeurs reconnaissent un comportement opportuniste parmi leurs législateurs et les punissent en conséquence et que dans certaines circonstances, le changement de parti est motivé par des raisons aussi bien stratégiques que rationnelles.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601, Australia, email: feodor.snagovsky@anu.edu.au
Australian National University, Acton ACT 2601, Australia, email: matthew.kerby@anu.edu.au
Footnotes
Hide All

Acknowledgments: The authors would like to thank the editors and reviewers of the Journal for their helpful comments and suggestions as well as Hwan-Jin Yoon, Daniel Stockemer, André Lecours, Luc Turgeon and Marina McGale. An earlier version of this article was presented at the 2015 Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Aldrich, John, and Bianco, William. 1992. “A Game-Theoretic Model of Party Affiliation of Candidates and Office Holders.” Mathematical and Computer Modeling 16: 103–16.
Arellano, M. and Bond, S.. 1991. “Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations.Review of Economic Studies 58 (2): 277–97.
Blais, André, Gidengil, Elisabeth, Dobrzynska, Agnieszka, Nevitte, Neil, and Nadeau, Richard. 2003. “Does the Local Candidate Matter? Candidate Effects in the Canadian Election of 2000.” Canadian Journal of Political Science / Revue Canadienne de Science Politique 36 (3): 657–64.
Bourget bolts government.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto). 1944. Nov. 30, 13.
Castle, David and Fett, Patrick J.. 2000. “Member Goals and Party Switching in the U.S. Congress.” In Congress on Display, Congress at Work, ed. Bianco, W. T. B.. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Cochrane, Christopher and Sevi, Semra. 2016. “Crossing the Floor: The Electoral Fortunes of Floor-Crossing MPs in the Canadian House of Commons, 1867–2015.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Political Science Association, Calgary.
Dawson, Robert M. 1961. The Conscription Crisis of 1944. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
Desposato, Scott. 2003. “The Impact of Party Switching on Legislative Behaviour in Brazil.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia.
Desposato, Scott. 2006. “Parties for Rent? Ambition, Ideology, and Party Switching in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies.” American Journal of Political Science 50 (1): 6280.
Docherty, David. 2011. “The Canadian Political Career Structure: From Stability to Free Agency.” Regional and Federal Studies 21: 185203.
Evans, Kevin, Peterson, Rolfe and Hadley, Nathan. 2012. “Principled or Opportunist? Perceptions of Arlen Specter and His Party Switch during the 2010 Midterm Election.” American Politics Research 40 (5): 880902.
Fraser, Graham. 1999. “NDP Left Reeling as MP Joins Tories.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), September 28, A4.
Freeman, Alan. 1990a. “No Ripples in Tory Caucus over Suspension of Maverick MPs.The Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 6, A4.
Freeman, Alan. 1990b. “Bouchard Quits, Warning ‘We Mean Business.’The Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 23, A1.
Grose, Christian R., and Yoshinaka, Antoine. 2003. “The Electoral Consequences of Party Switching by Incumbent Members of Congress, 1947–2000.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 28 (1): 5575.
Hawthorn, Tom. 2004. “Jack Horner, Rancher and Politician 1927–2004.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), November 22, S9.
Heller, William and Mershon, Carol. 2008. “Dealing in Discipline: Party Switching and Legislative Voting in the Italian Chamber of Deputies, 1988–2000.” American Journal of Political Science 52 (4): 910–25.
Howlett, Karen. 2006. “New Reality Looms for Two Who Defected to the Liberals.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), January 18, A1.
Kam, Christopher. 2009. Party Discipline and Parliamentary Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kendall, Chad and Rekkas, Marie. 2012. “Incumbency Advantages in the Canadian Parliament.” The Canadian Journal of Economics / Revue Canadienne d'Economique 45 (4): 1560–85.
Kerby, Matthew and Blidook, Kelly. 2011. “It's Not You, It's Me: Determinants of Voluntary Legislative Turnover in Canada.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 36: 621–43.
Kerevel, Yann P. 2014. “Loyalty and Disloyalty in the Mexican Party System.” Latin American Politics and Society 56 (3): 93117.
Krashinsky, Michael, and Milne, William J.. 1985. “Additional Evidence on the Effect of Incumbency in Canadian Elections.” Canadian Journal of Political Science 18 (1): 155–65.
Krashinsky, Michael, and Milne, William J.. 1991. “Some Evidence on the Effects of Incumbency in the 1988 Canadian General Election.” In Issues in Party and Election Finance in Canada, ed. Seidle, L. Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing. Dundurn Press.
LeBlanc, Daniel. 2001. “MP Resigns from Caucus over Driving Conviction: Liberal Member Sentenced to Open Custody for Leaving the Scene after Hitting Woman.” The Globe and Mail, December 15, sec. Politics.
“Liberal MP Quits Caucus after Crash Conviction.” CBC News. 2001. CBC.ca. http://www.cbc.ca/1.275157 (Feb. 3 2017).
Martin, Shane. 2014. “Policy, Office and Votes: The Electoral Value of Ministerial Office.” British Journal of Political Science 46: 281–96.
McElroy, Gail. 2008. “Intra-Party Politics at the Transnational Level: Party Switching in the European Parliament.” In Intra-Party Politics and Coalition Governments in Parliamentary Democracies, ed. Giannetti, Daniela and Benoit, Kenneth: London: Routledge.
McMenamin, Iain and Gwiazda, Anna. 2011. “Three Roads to Institutionalization: Vote-, Office-, and Policy-Seeking Explanations of Party Switching in Poland.European Journal of Political Research 50 (6): 838–66
Mershon, Carol and Shvetsova, Olga. 2008. “Parliamentary Cycles and Party Switching in Legislatures.” Comparative Political Studies 41: 99127.
Morton, Desmond. 2006. “A Note on Party Switchers.” Canadian Parliamentary Review 29 (2): 48.
Müller, Wolfgang C. and Strøm, Kaare. 1999. Policy, Office, or Votes? How Political Parties in Western Europe Make Hard Decisions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Nokken, Timothy. 2000. “Dynamics of Congressional Loyalty: Party Defection and Roll-Call Behavior, 1947–97.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 25 (3): 417–44.
O'Brien, Diana and Shomer, Yael. 2013. “A Cross National Analysis of Party Switching.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 38 (1): 111–41.
Quebec Tory Defector Decides To Quit Politics at Federal Level,” The Globe and Mail. 1965. September 18, sec. Campaign Report.
Schlesinger, Joseph. 1966. Ambition and Politics: Political Careers in the United States. Chicago: Rand McNally.
Snagovsky, Feodor. 2015. “Party Switching in the Canadian House of Commons.” Master's thesis. University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario.
Snagovsky, Feodor and Kerby, Matthew. 2017. “Legislative Institutionalization and the Evolution of Legislator Movement in the Canadian House of Commons: 1867–2013.” In Démocratie, Parlementarisme, Légitimité, ed. by Farhat, Nadim and Poirier, Philippe. Brussels: Larcier.
Stevens, Geoffrey. 1966. “Labor-Loving Liberals - That’s Party’s New PitchThe Globe and Mail (Toronto). July 28.
Taber, Jane and Chase, Steven. 2006. “Reynolds Brokered Emerson's Right Turn.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), February 7.
Westall, Stanley. 1964. “2 Quebec Socreds Join PCs, Balcer Negotiates Defection.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 24, 1.
Wills, Terrance. 1972. “Lachine Member Crosses Commons Floor: Liberal Criticizes Trudeau Jobless Policy in Joining Tories.” The Globe and Mail (Toronto), March 14, 3.
Yoshinaka, Antoine. 2005. “House Party Switchers and Committee Assignments: Who Gets “What, When, How?Legislative Studies Quarterly 30: 391406.
Yoshinaka, Antoine. 2015. Crossing the Aisle: Party Switching by US Legislators in the Postwar Era. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Canadian Journal of Political Science/Revue canadienne de science politique
  • ISSN: 0008-4239
  • EISSN: 1744-9324
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-of-political-science-revue-canadienne-de-science-politique
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Snagovsky and Kerby supplementary material
Appendix 1

 Word (35 KB)
35 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 79 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 674 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 8th February 2018 - 20th June 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.