Walking the line: Electoral cycles and the shift in legislative priorities among German parliamentarians


This article sheds light on how MPs’ priorities change in the course of legislative terms. We purport that members of parliament (MPs) balance a variety of incentives over the electoral cycle. While they emphasize issues that relate to the policy-making agenda of their party right after an election, competition with other parties increasingly gains influence over legislators’ priorities as the next election day approaches. We show supportive evidence for these patterns based on a unique longitudinal dataset combining information on sponsorship of legislative proposals, public opinion, party manifestos, and committee chair positions in Germany between 1990 and 2013. By bringing variation within the electoral cycle to our attention, the results enhance our understanding of the factors that set the incentive structure for MPs and the relationship between party competition and legislative behavior.

Electoral Studies, 83