Legislative systems with absolute party discipline: Implications for the agency theory approach to the constituent-legislator link*

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This paper examines how the presence of absolute party discipline forces one to re-examine some of the issues surrounding the constituent-legislator link. With absolute party discipline, slack at the individual district level is determined by the policy choices of a political party, rather than by the choices of the individual legislator. This party discipline not only has implications for the representational effectiveness of individual legislators, but also results in the terms “slack” and “shirking” no longer necessarily being synonymous. The empirical work shows that Canadian political parties engaged in wide scale shirking on the 1988 U.S.–Canada Free Trade Agreement.

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