MPs’ representational focus in MMP systems. A comparison between Germany and New Zealand.

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Abstract

This paper examines how Members of Parliament (MPs) in Germany and New Zealand (NZ), two countries with a similar Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) electoral system, define their representational focus and how they perceive the representational focus and prestige of list and district MPs. Relying on interviews with 25 German and 27 NZ MPs, it shows that there are differences in the representational focus of list and district MPs, but that they are limited. In particular, most list MPs also campaign in a district, and therefore—similar to district MPs—also argue that they primarily represent their district. More striking, however, is list MPs’ greater likelihood of also mentioning a social group (e.g., families, single people, ethnic group) as the group that they primarily represent compared with district MPs. This was more often the case in NZ compared with Germany. When asking MPs about their perceptions of the representational focus and prestige of list and district MPs, list MPs see little difference. District MPs, by contrast, argue that district MPs’ representational focus is more on their district and that district MPs also have more prestige than list MPs. This pattern is particularly strong in NZ.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-389
JournalRepresentation
Volume54
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Nov 2018

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