Mavericks or Loyalists? Popular Ballot Jumpers and Party Discipline in the Flexible-List PR Context

AuthorMichal Smrek
Published date01 March 2023
Date01 March 2023
Subject MatterArticles
Political Research Quarterly
2023, Vol. 76(1) 323336
© The Author(s) 2022
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/10659129221087961
Mavericks or Loyalists? Popular Ballot
Jumpers and Party Discipline in the
Flexible-List PR Context
Michal Smrek
Preference voting threatens the power of party leaders in PR contexts to enforce party unity and pursue policy by
encouraging candidates to groom personal reputations. This study posits that party leadership might be able to enforce
party discipline through other means at their disposal even as their control over candidateselection ranks weakens.
These include access to the party label and distribution of senior legislative- and party positions. Using original data from
the Czech f‌lexible-list PR context covering the period between 1996 and 2021, this study shows that the MPs who are
elected thanks to preference voting are no more likely than their colleagues to individualize their legislative behavior or
cast a dissenting roll-call vote. What is more, these popular MPs face a more restricted access to reelect ion and senior
positions that come with agenda-setting power and exposure. This evidence suggests that political parti es take active
steps to limit the autonomy of the MPs who owe their positions to voters.
preference voting, personalization of legislative behavior, candidate ballot placement, roll-call loyalty, f‌lexible-list
proportional representation, the Czech Republic
Does preference voting in proportional-representation
(PR) contexts produce undisciplined political parties
comprised of unreliable mavericks? In a classical
closed-list (CL)PR setup, party organizations determine
the order in which their candidates are elected from the
partiesmulticandidate ballots (Carey and Shugart 1995;
Renwick and Pilet 2016). This feature incentivizes can-
didates to take on the role of loyal party soldiers and
produces party groups that are exceptionally cohesive
(Borghetto and Lisi 2018;Yildirim, Kocapınar, and Ecevit
2017). Preference voting is an electoral innovation that
enables voters to alter the composition of their chosen
partys parliamentary delegation by expressing preference
for one or more candidates listed on the partys ballot
e et al. 2017;Crisp et al. 2013). The possibility of
getting elected from anywhere on the ballot incentivizes
individual candidates to become more concerned about
their individual reputations among voters and more in-
dependent in their campaign- and/or legislative behavior
(Andeweg and Thomassen 2011;Bouteca et al. 2019;
Carroll and Nalepa 2020;Crisp et al. 2013;Tavits 2009).
While conditions like these might give rise to MPs who
are more attentive to the demands of their constituents,
they also threaten the pursuit of party policy objectives in
fragmented, multiparty PR contexts (Carey 2007). This
study posits that senior party off‌icials in PR contexts
where preference voting is permitted will use their re-
maining gatekeeping roles, like control over candidate
selection or appointments to senior positions, to prevent
the rise of independent mavericks (Carroll and Nalepa
2021;Rich 2014).
The veracity of this claim is tested in the f‌lexible-list
(FL) PR context of the Czech Republic where a non-
negligible number of MPs owe their positions to pref-
erence voting (D¨
aubler, Christensen, and Linek 2018;
Stegmaier, Marcinkiewicz, and Jankowski 2016). A FL
system is a middle ground between the classical CL
system and the so-called open listswhere the order in
which individual candidates are elected is determined by
Department of Government, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
Corresponding Author:
Michal Smrek, Department of Government, Uppsala University, Gamla
Torget 6, SE-753 20 Uppsala 75320, Sweden.

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