Roll Call Votes and Legislative Behaviour in Democracies

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Prof. Gerard RolandMultidisciplinary Research Workshop 30 May 2012, 11.00-13.00, Villa La Fonte, Conference Room, with Gerard Roland, University of California, Berkely


Statistical analysis of roll call votes has been increasingly used to analyze voting behavior in democratic legislatures.

Given that in most legislatures, only a minority of votes are done by roll call, a concern is raised that roll call votes may give a distorted picture of legislative behavior because of a selection bias.

We examine the extent of possible selection biases in the European Parliament by exploiting a natural experiment: since 2009, all final legislative votes have to be taken by roll call.

We compare differences between final legislative votes, amendment votes and non legislative votes, using a difference approach with extensive controls. We failed to find any significant difference in cohesion scores for the main political groups.

These results suggests selection biases in roll call votes due to strategic choices are at best negligible and that analysis of roll call votes is a useful tool in understanding legislative behavior in democracies.

Organizers: Agustin Casas , Justin Valasek , Tomás Rodriguez Barraquer and Yane Svetiev, Max Weber Fellows