Skip to main content

Modeling Preferences Using Roll Call Votes in Parliamentary Systems

  • Thomas Bräuninger (a1), Jochen Müller (a2) and Christian Stecker (a3)

Models of ideal point estimation usually build on the assumption of spatial preferences. This ignores legislators' non-policy incentives and is thus likely to produce implausible results for many legislatures. We study this problem in parliamentary systems and develop a model of roll call voting that considers both the policy and the non-policy, tactical incentives of legislators. We go on to show how the relative weight of these policy and tactical incentives is influenced by the identity of the mover and characteristics of the motion. Analyses of two data sets of 2174 roll call votes in German state legislatures and 3295 roll call votes in the British House of Commons result in three main findings. First, we show that tactical incentives may be more important than policy incentives, and second, that the importance of tactical incentives varies with the importance of motions. Third, there are interesting twists: backbench private members' bills may reverse tactical incentives whereas proposals from anti-system parties are virtually always rejected by moderate parties, rendering these votes uninformative. Our findings have implications for ideal point estimation in parliamentary systems, as well as for research on separation of power systems.

Corresponding author
Hide All

Authors' note: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the 2013 annual meeting of the MPSA and the 2014 conference of the EPSA. We would like to thank our panelists, Nicholas Allen, Daina Chiba, Christopher Claassen, Michael Peress, and two anonymous referees for their comments and suggestions. We also thank Masha Haghighat- Kashani and Sebastian Juhl for research assistance. Replication materials are available online as Bräuninger, Müller, and Stecker (2016). Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site.

Recommend this journal

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

Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
Type Description Title
Supplementary materials

Bräuninger et al. supplementary material
Supplementary Material

 PDF (96 KB)
96 KB


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 57 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 202 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 4th January 2017 - 17th January 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.