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Modern legislators are increasingly motivated to serve their constituents in personal ways. Representatives act like ultimate ombudsmen: they keep in close touch with their constituents and try to cultivate a relationship with them based on service and accessibility. The Personal Vote describes the behavior of representatives in the United States and Great Britain and the response of their constituents as well. It shows how congressmen and members of Parliament earn personalized support and how this attenuates their ties to national leaders and parties.
The larger significance of this empirical work arises from its implications for the structure of legislative institutions and the nature of legislative action. Personalized electoral support correlates with decentralized governing institutions and special-interest policy making. Such systems tend to inconsistency and stalemate. The United States illustrates a mature case of this development, and Britain is showing the first movements in this direction with the decline of an established two-party system, the rise of a centrist third party, greater volatility in the vote, growing backbench independence and increasing backbench pressure for committees and staff.
This book is essential for specialists in American national government, British politics, and comparative legislatures and comparative parties.