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Does experience matter? The effect of pre-parliamentary careers on MPs’ behaviour

By Wang Leung Ting


The Career background of politicians is an issue that could potentially have profound implications for the functioning of democracy, yet it has only received sporadic and lukewarm attention from political scientists. Based on the hypothesis that the experience and skills an MP acquires throughout his or her career is going to affect the MP’s performance in the future, this dissertation seeks to explore if the career background of MPs, both professional and political, influences their parliamentary career trajectory and behaviour when they enter parliament. By utilizing a new dataset compiled from the biographical information of all new MPs elected in the 2010 British general election, this dissertation shows that the amount and nature of MPs’ pre-parliamentary careers has a profound impact on the allocation of seats among MPs as applicants, their prospects of frontbench promotion, their voting behaviour, as well as their participation in parliamentary debates. These results show that the pre-parliamentary careers of MPs do affect the way they conduct their duties as representatives. These results also suggest that the background of MPs shapes the composition of parliament in terms of the occupation and political experience, which has an important influence on how representative democracy works

Topics: JC Political theory
Year: 2016
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Provided by: LSE Theses Online

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