Indigenous Sovereignty, Common Law, and Natural Law

The forthcoming article “Indigenous Sovereignty, Common Law, and Natural Law” by Samuel Piccolo is summarized by the author below.

In recent years in Canada and the United States, there have been significant protest movements by Indigenous peoples aimed at increasing—if not achieving entirely—their sovereignty on traditional territories, especially in response to the Dakota Access and the Coastal Gaslink pipelines. The spirit behind these protests has also appeared in Supreme Court cases in both countries, such as in McGirt v. Oklahoma and Tsilthqot’in Nation v. British Columbia. These claims to sovereignty, I show, are based on traditional Indigenous concepts of sovereignty that reject modern Westphalianism, and instead understand sovereignty to involve sovereignty with—not over—land and other beings in accordance with normativity inherent in nature. Indeed, I argue that Indigenous scholars describe their understandings as flowing from Indigenous natural law. Amid these political and legal struggles, scholars have suggested that North American common law has the resources to endorse some notion of Indigenous sovereignty that at least resembles the claims made by Native peoples. They look to legal precedents including the Royal Proclamation of 1763, the Treaty of Niagara, and the United States Supreme Court decision Worcester v. Georgia. In this article, I argue that the North American common law tradition is in fact limited in its capacity to endorse Indigenous political legitimacy. While there are some precedents in the common law that appear to endorse Indigenous sovereignty, there are many others that do not. Not only does the main common law principle of stare decisis (deference to established precedent) counteract Indigenous claims to sovereignty because by now American and Canadian state sovereignty is established, under common law it is unclear how state courts could undermine their own sovereignty.  

But the limitations of common law do not mean that North American has no resources to endorse Indigenous sovereignty. By closely examining the strongest defence of Indigenous sovereignty in North American law, Worcester v. Georgia, I show that there are elements of natural law reasoning in the defence. Given that natural law as a concept resonates with contemporary Indigenous philosophy that maintains that non-human nature is suffused with morality and normativity, I suggest it is worth considering the natural law tradition for defenses of Indigenous sovereignty. I propose beginning with Bartolomé de las Casas, who I show understands natural law and sovereignty in ways that may resemble the claims of Indigenous societies to territory. While my aim is not to defend either Lascasian or Indigenous natural law’s account of sovereignty, I conclude that they should be part of efforts to understand the ongoing conflicts between Indigenous nations and colonial states. In this article I show that when we think of questions of Indigenous sovereignty, we cannot think solely of conventional positive law.  

About the Author: Samuel Piccolo is a recent Ph.D. graduate from the University of Notre Dame. Their research “Indigenous Sovereignty, Common Law, and Natural Law” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Drinking Wine with Friends: Plato’s Lesson for Contemporary Democratic Theory

The forthcoming article “Drinking Wine with Friends: Plato’s Lesson for Contemporary Democratic Theory” by Eno Trimçev is summarized by the author below.

Democratic citizenship is bound with a vision of small, face-to-face exchanges where everyone speaks and is listened to freely. And our democratic imagination calls on us to be engaged, informed, passionate, reasonable, willing to speak up, ready to listen, and militant or restrained as the case may be. But in real life we may find this difficult; the size of our republics, the structure of our societies, the technologies of our political communications, and our chastened sense of our selves make a mockery of the very ideals in which we most fervently believe.  

Surprisingly, Plato’s reflections on drinking wine with friends in the Laws can help us to reflect on this gulf. I argue that we are right to view democratic citizenship as a personal challenge to speak and act publicly in ways that fit the circumstances. This presents us with two problems however: not only are most citizens unable to share in the promise of free and equal citizenship, but also ours is the one regime that cannot train citizens according to a given substantive model of citizenship. We may quite reasonably be discouraged and bewildered as to what to do. Plato’s reflections, I argue, provide us with a model to think about the peculiar challenge of democratic citizenship and its practical implications. 

Democratic citizenship requires that we become mature, and the wine-fueled symposium provides an example of the sort of social practice that may help us achieve this. Somewhat counter-intuitively perhaps, by clouding our sober awareness of right and wrong, transgressing social norms, and intensifying our emotions at the expense of reason we become more mature over time. In the symposium we achieve maturity by continuously degrading it just as we strengthen our body in the gym by damaging our muscles. The symposium is the gymnasium of the psyche: do it enough times with due care and you will not only increase your strength, but also learn to use it responsibly.  

The political effectiveness of the symposium lies precisely in the fact that sympotic experiences are unlike political experiences: alcohol-lubricated discussions, after all, do not even approximate political deliberation. Nevertheless, the small size and intimate nature of the practice, the drinking of wine, and the friendship of participants stimulate our willingness to venture forth in speech and deed in the short run and the acquisition of individual maturity over the long run; precisely what we require for the exercise of democratic citizenship. At the same time, however, these experiences are free of the burdens of power, money, hierarchy, responsibility, and exclusion that plague political engagements; in contradistinction to most political action, drinking with friends is easier, more enjoyable, and far less risky. The symposium thus provides us with a practice where we can acquire the virtues necessary to democratic citizenship, but also enjoy the promise of that citizenship in the face of the likely impossibility of enjoying it in real political life. 

About the Author: Eno Trimçev is a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of Greifswald. Their research “Drinking Wine with Friends: Plato’s Lesson for Contemporary Democratic Theory” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Care or Justice: Care Ethics and the Restricted Reporting Sexual Assault Policy in the US Military

The forthcoming article “Care or Justice: Care Ethics and the Restricted Reporting Sexual Assault Policy in the US Military” by Jennet Kirkpatrick and Carolyn Warner is summarized by the authors below.

How should institutions respond to sexual assault? Many institutions like universities and the military have adopted an “offender-centered approach” because they do not want to appear soft on crime. These institutions focus on finding and punishing the offender. For instance, they may encourage victim reporting, strengthen investigative and punitive processes, or pursue justice primarily through punishment.  

We argue that institutions should not always pursue justice by punishing sexual assault offenders. An offender-centered approach may not meet the victims’ need for care in contexts with little institutional trust. Victims are varied. According to numerous studies, many victims of sexual assault do not want to pursue formal legal action. If no other course of action is available, some never report the crime. As a result, these victims may not receive medical, psychological, or spiritual care after their assaults.  

To address this lack of care, we argue for a “victim-centered” approach that allows all victims to receive care regardless of whether they report the crime for investigation. To support our argument, we examine some of the US military’s “restricted reporting” policies which de-emphasize investigations and punishment and shift the focus from the perpetrator to the victim. Since 2005 the military has moved towards addressing the victim’s care to the extent of sometimes forgoing holding perpetrators accountable. Victims can confidentially report a crime, receive care, and decide later whether they want to have the military pursue the case. Recognizing that institutions must improve processes to increase victim confidence if they file a report that launches an investigation, we favor policy approaches allowing victim autonomy.  

We support a victim-centered approach through care ethics, a contextual method that assigns moral significance to providing care, receiving care, and dependent relationships in human life. The US military’s sexual assault policy aligns with the values of attentiveness and responsiveness, which are vital elements of care.  

Our research has implications for other institutions. For example, American universities, which generally require mandatory reporting according to Title XI legislation, and the Catholic Church, which covered up decades of sexual abuse, are likely candidates for a victim-centered approach. Both organizations may have a similar problem as the military: non-reporting because victims do not trust these institutions. Moreover, both possess the organizational resources to provide extensive care to all victims, even those who choose never to punish perpetrators by making a formal legal complaint.

About the Authors: Jennet Kirkpatrick is an Associate Professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State University and Carolyn Warner is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Nevada, Reno. Their research “Care or Justice: Care Ethics and the Restricted Reporting Sexual Assault Policy in the US Military” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Veto Institutions, Hostage-Taking, and Tacit Cooperation

The forthcoming article “Veto Institutions, Hostage-Taking, and Tacit Cooperation” by Justin Fox and Mattias Polborn is summarized by the authors below.

In political systems with a strong separation of powers, the executive often has some veto power over legislation. With an absolute veto (AV) — similar to what the U.S president and several governors have — the executive can either veto a bill wholesale, or not at all. Other executives have a line-item veto (LIV) under which they can block specific parts of a bill, while letting other parts pass. In our article, “Veto Institutions, Hostage-taking, and Tacit Cooperation,” we consider the strengths and weaknesses of both AV and LIV, and also propose a new veto institution that improves upon both of them. 

We focus on the case of divided government in which different parties control the legislature and the executive. In our model, the legislature can combine various “projects” into a single bill. Some projects are “universal,” providing a positive payoff to both parties. Others are “partisan,” benefiting one party at the expense of the other.  

The two veto systems described above each have some problems. Under AV, the legislature can bundle universal projects with ones that benefit only itself. This way, universal projects are “held hostage,” effectively undercutting the executive’s veto power: A veto of the bundled bill would not only kill the partisan projects that harm the executive, but also the universal projects valued by both sides. Furthermore, the more valuable the universal projects are for everyone, the more partisan pork the legislature can load into a bill while still shielding it from a veto. 

While the LIV eliminates this type of hostage-taking, it does so at the expense of preventing mutually beneficial “log rolls.” Sometimes, both parties can gain from implementing a package where each party gets some of their preferred partisan projects. However, the legislature would have to fear that, if they passed such a bundle, the executive would simply line-item veto those parts that benefit the legislature while leaving intact those that benefit the executive. Consequently, mutually beneficial compromise bills may go unrealized under the LIV. 

We then design a novel institution, the alternating line-item veto (ALIV), under which proposed bills alternate between legislature and executive, with each having the power to delete parts of the previous version and returning the remaining parts to the opponent, or deciding to accept the opponent’s latest proposal. We show that ALIV can eliminate hostage-taking while also preserving beneficial inter-party log-rolls. Although the ALIV is currently, to our knowledge, not implemented anywhere, some countries in Latin America operate under a related system. 

Finally, we analyze how the different veto institutions perform in a dynamic setting where power fluctuates, and the government is sometimes united and sometimes divided. Here, we identify a range of conditions under which the LIV best facilitates inter-party cooperation. This dynamic effect also explains why numerous empirical studies have found that, contrary to expectations, the LIV has little impact on government spending. 

About the Authors: Justin Fox is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis and Mattias Polborn is a Professor of Economics and Political Science at Vanderbilt University. Their research “Veto Institutions, Hostage-Taking, and Tacit Cooperation” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Sexism and the Far-Right Vote: The Individual Dynamics of Gender Backlash

The forthcoming article “Sexism and the Far-Right Vote: The Individual Dynamics of Gender Backlashby Eva Anduiza and Guillem Rico is summarized by the authors below.

The rise of the far right has often been interpreted as a backlash reaction against progressive values such as gender equality. However, instead of being employed as an observable concept, the term gender backlash has been used more as a narrative, one that is either defended or contested.  

Do people change their attitudes towards gender equality in a way that is compatible with the gender backlash thesis? Do these changes have consequences for far-right voting? To answer these questions, we look into people’s attitudes regarding modern sexism, a subtle form of prejudice which closely reflects typical far-right discourses that deny that discrimination against women exists, and reject any actions aimed at correcting existing inequalities.   

We define gender backlash attitudinal change as increases in sexism that occur in a context of feminist mobilizations and normalization attitudinal change as increases in sexism occurring in a context of the far right gaining momentum. We take the case of Spain where these two moments have been clearly distinguishable. 

Our data show that individuals’ levels of modern sexism changed through time in these periods of feminist mobilization and far-right visibilization, but following two disparate logics. While feminist mobilization operates along a polarizing dynamic (after feminist protests, sexism decreases particularly among women, supporters of left-wing liberal parties, and citizens engaged in feminist protests), far-right visibility seems to be related to increasing levels of sexism for all citizens regardless of their predispositions. 

Those who became more sexist during the wave of feminist mobilization were later more likely to become far-right voters. That is to say, this backlash attitudinal change had electoral consequences. On the other hand, those who became more sexist after the far right became visible were not more likely to later vote for the far right. While this normalization attitudinal change has no direct short-term electoral consequences, it is disturbing in terms of the extent to which prejudiced views may become prevalent, and their potential long-term electoral consequences.  

These findings are important for those of us who are concerned about sex-based equality. They point to the fact that we must not only confront a situation of existing inequality and discrimination against women, but also one where feminists’ displays of strength are likely to generate backlash reactions with electoral consequences.  

About the Authors: Eva Anduiza is a Professor of Political Science at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Guillem Rico is a Research Fellow at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Their research “Sexism and the Far-Right Vote: The Individual Dynamics of Gender Backlash” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Friendly Lobbying under Time Pressure

The forthcoming article “Friendly Lobbying under Time Pressureby Emiel Awad and Clement Minaudier is summarized by the authors below.

Special interest groups routinely provide policy-relevant information to legislators in exchange for political influence. This information is typically commissioned from experts, think tanks, or consulting firms before its dissemination to legislators. Interest groups can be selective about two aspects of this information: how detailed the information should be and with which legislator they should share it. However, they also face some constraints: gathering more detailed information takes time while policymakers are under pressure from various stakeholders to act quickly. How does this time pressure affect lobbying strategies, political outcomes, and interest group influence? 

To answer these questions, we develop and analyze a series of game theoretic models. An interest group decides how much information to acquire and whether to disseminate it publicly or privately. If the group goes the private route, it can share the information with a carefully selected legislator. This legislator can then serve as an intermediary by recommending policies to other members of the legislature. The persuasiveness of an intermediary’s recommendation crucially depends on their ideological alignment with the legislative majority but also the precision of the information they received from the interest group in the first place. Our model generates three sets of results linking time pressure to the selection of intermediaries, the decision to lobby privately versus publicly, policy-making duration, and the quality of policies. 

First, when legislators face little time pressure, the interest group can privately target a legislator whose policy preferences are closely aligned with theirs. However, with more time pressure, the group must target a more moderate legislator, whose preferences are more aligned with the legislative majority, and may not even benefit from lobbying in private. It then goes either the public route or stays on the sideline and does not lobby.  

Second, time pressure can lengthen the policy-making process. Intuitively, legislators should make decisions more quickly when time pressure increases. Our results illustrate, however, that it may take longer for legislators to choose a policy when time pressure is higher. The reason is that lobbyists need to incentivize legislators to wait for the lobbyist’s information, which necessitates acquiring more information and prolongs the decision-making process. 

Third, more time pressure may be a good thing and improve the quality of policies, i.e., how similar they are to the policies legislators would have chosen without uncertainty. As time pressure forces lobbyists to share information with a more moderate intermediary, the intermediary’s recommendation becomes more closely aligned with the policy preferred by the majority. 

Finally, we discuss how time pressure can arise endogenously and how it can be measured empirically. The presence of competition and the legislature’s capacity to acquire information internally can both put lobbyists under pressure to provide information quickly and select a more moderate intermediary. Accounting for these sources of time pressure and for features that affect how long it takes to gather information, such as the technical complexity of a policy, are important when measuring the influence of lobbyists empirically. 

About the Authors: Emiel Awad is an Associate Research Scholar at Princeton University and Clement Minaudier is an Assistant Professor of Economics at City, University of London. Their research “Friendly Lobbying under Time Pressure” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

How Economic Informality Constrains Demand for Programmatic Policy

The forthcoming article “How Economic Informality Constrains Demand for Programmatic Policy” by Jessica Gottlieb is summarized by the author below.

Consider two middle-class individuals who make similar income. One is self-employed and doesn’t have a formal tax ID.  The IRS finds them from time to time and asks for income tax payment. The other works in a company and has income tax deducted monthly from their paycheck. The self-employed person mostly works alone and when they have problems with their business, they don’t have anyone to commiserate with. The employee works with colleagues who regularly talk about problems with their job – pay, taxes, benefits, etc.  

Even though they make similar amounts of income and may even face similar financial challenges, I argue that these two individuals should have very different expectations of and demands on the state. Relative to the company employee, the self-employed individual who pays tax irregularly is less likely to think other people pay tax and views the state as having lower overall revenue and capacity to implement programs. They are also less likely to coordinate demands on the state with others like them. 

In the developing world, most democracies are still clientelistic in nature – voters and politicians trade electoral support for targeted benefits. Most older democracies also started this way but eventually transition to a more programmatic form of politics where parties campaign on policies that apply more universally, not just to those who vote for the incumbent. Because most people in the developing world work in the informal economy, my argument helps explain why clientelism is so stable. Those in the informal sector are unlikely to expect the state can implement programmatic policy, and to coordinate with others to make such demands. 

The article uses data from Senegal to test this theory. I surveyed middle-class individuals in the informal sector and in the formal sector. Compared to the formal sector, informal business owners pay tax in a much more irregular way. But even within the informal sector, tax payment varies – both how often and to whom tax is paid. Both within and across sectors, greater informality of tax payment is associated with weaker perceptions of tax compliance, lower expectations of government, and weaker coordination capacity. Using data from a recent election that pitted one programmatic party against a highly particularistic incumbent, I also find that informality is associated with weaker support for the programmatic party.  

This argument and evidence highlight the role of beliefs about the tax-paying behavior and subsequent political expectations of other citizens. Uncertainty around how others experience the state contributes to the coordination problem faced by voters who may prefer to hold their politicians accountable for programmatic policies but cannot coordinate on such demands. The article uniquely reveals the role of the informal sector in propagating state weakness – both through its effect on muting citizen demands and coordinating capacity, and potentially through the resulting incentives this provides politicians to maintain high levels of informality. This latter implication should give pause to external actors attempting to boost the level of economic formalization in developing country contexts without sufficient consideration of the strategic incentives of elites and politicians. 

About the Author: Jessica Gottlieb is an Associate Professor at the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston. Their research “How Economic Informality Constrains Demand for Programmatic Policy” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Military Culture and Institutional Trust: Evidence from Conscription Reforms in Europe

The forthcoming article “Military Culture and Institutional Trust: Evidence from Conscription Reforms in Europe” by Vincenzo Bove, Riccardo Di Leo, Marco Giani is summarized by the authors below.

Did the suppression of military conscription contributed to decreased institutional trust in Europe? Most European countries discontinued military conscription from the early nineties onwards. This was an uncontentious decision. Obsolescent mass-armies were perceived as a relic from the past, ill-suited for high-technological contemporary warfare, while burdening public finances and undermining the skill development of young men. From a symbolic point of view, the introduction of all-volunteer forces represented a milestone in the fortification of the pax Europaea. Yet, in recent years, politicians and experts have blamed low levels of civic virtues and institutional trust to the decision to suppress conscription. They argue that forgoing the transmission of values of loyalty, patriotism, and a respect for the law and the interactions between individuals from varied backgrounds during their “impressionable” years has weakened the tie between the citizen and the state. We provide evidence in stark contrast with the romantic idea that conscription served as a ‘school of nation’. 

Based on fifteen European countries that discontinued military conscription during the last decades, our study compares the level of institutional trust among cohorts of men who reached the drafting age just before its abolition, with institutional trust among those who were just exempted.    We find that trust in the legislative, judicial, politicians and political parties later in life is about 5% higher among the latter group. This gap in institutional trust is unlikely to simply reflect underlying attitudinal trends, unrelated with the approval of military policies. Indeed, such gap cannot be observed among women from the same cohorts, unaffected by the conscription reform.  Conscription appears to coalesce young men around the primacy of the military over mistrusted democratic institutions. Accordingly, attitudes towards institutions are more homogeneous among conscripts than among non-conscripts. And the positive impact of avoiding conscription on institutional trust is stronger in post-socialist countries, where the pervasiveness of military and political corruption at the time of the reform was relatively higher, the abolition of military conscription was part of a broader reorganization of defence policies, and the reform occurred later in time, compared to Western Europe. 

Overall, our findings indicate that discontinuing military conscription cannot be blamed for the widely acknowledged and worrying corrosion of institutional trust, thus invalidating the policy rationale of some conscription-enthusiasts, such as President Macron, who strongly defended the re-introduction of the Service National Universel as a way to transmit French values and strengthen social cohesion among the youth. 

About the Authors: Vincenzo Bove is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Warwick, Riccardo Di Leo is a PhD Student in Economics at the University of Warwick, and Marco Giani is a Lecturer of Political Economy at King’s College London. Their research “Military Culture and Institutional Trust: Evidence from Conscription Reforms in Europe” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Political Phantasies: Aristotle on Imagination and Collective Action

The forthcoming article “Political Phantasies: Aristotle on Imagination and Collective Action” by Avshalom M. Schwartz is summarized by the author below.

In recent years, growing levels of polarization and political tensions have raised concerns about the future of liberal democracies around the world and our capacity to act together as democratic citizens. In my paper, I turn to Aristotle in asking how, despite these challenges and the constant threat of conflict, we might be able to sustain a political partnership (what the ancient Greeks called koinonia) that would allow us to act together as fellow citizens of a democratic society.  

I argue that we can find important resources for answering this question by exploring Aristotle’s theory of imagination, phantasia, and its political implications. In Aristotle’s psychological work, phantasia appears crucial not only for our capacity to process various sensual inputs and produce “mental representations” but also for generating animal movement and action. Among other things, phantasia can make things appear to us as pleasant, painful, and above all as good or bad, and is thus essential for motivating and generating individual movements and action. 

Aristotle’s theory of phantasia is traditionally read and interpreted at the level of individual psychology. Yet, I show that phantasia is crucial for our understanding not only of individual movement but also of collective action more generally. In fact, I argue that it provides the psychological micro-foundations of collective action and thus helps explain how we can move from individual psychology to collective agency and action. To demonstrate this argument, I offer a reexamination of the famous Wisdom of the Multitude passage (Politics 3.11), showing that the capacity of many individuals to act together is tied to their ability to share in a single, collective phantasma: a mental representation of the practical end or goal of their collective effort as good and thus worthy of pursuit.   

My analysis of the Wisdom of the Multitude passage not only provides an analogy for the conditions under which collective action is possible but also reveals some of its challenges and limitations. Given the subjectivity of individual phantasiai, generating the kind of imaginative unity required for collective action might be hard. I show how certain instances of failure of collective action in Aristotle (stasis and radical democracy) are connected to the lack of a shared phantasma. I argue that since our phantasia is shaped by our character, a community may overcome these challenges by means of habituation and education.  

I conclude by generalizing these Aristotelian insights and applying them to our contemporary moment. While an attempt to control the imagination from above is incompatible with basic liberal values, I suggest that we view the Aristotelian collective phantasma as a product of collective effort, shaped by multiple individuals in their daily activities as citizens and in their relation to and interaction with one another. Thus, such Aristotelian collective phantasma may offer us the potential of a shared imagination that will guide our collective endeavors while maintaining a strong commitment to pluralism, multiple identities and communities, and the creativity of the individual imagination.   

About the Author: Avshalom M. Schwartz is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University. Their research “Political Phantasies: Aristotle on Imagination and Collective Action” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

Politicians’ Private Sector Jobs and Parliamentary Behavior

The forthcoming article “Politicians’ Private Sector Jobs and Parliamentary Behavior” by Simon Weschle is summarized by the author below. 

The influence of money on politics is a hotly debated topic. Most research so far has focused on the effect of campaign contributions. However, a more direct way to gain access to politicians has been hiding in plain sight: In the vast majority of democracies, corporations can legally employ legislators at the same time as they hold public office. However, we know little about the consequences that these “moonlighting” jobs have. In my article “Politicians’ Private Sector Jobs and Parliamentary Behavior”, I show that they have systematic effects on how MPs behave. 
 
I assembled the most comprehensive and detailed data on politicians’ outside income to date, covering all members of parliament (MPs) of the UK House of Commons from 2010 to 2016. Between 20% and 30% of legislators hold private sector jobs in a given year, and this number is higher for MPs of the governing center-right Conservative party (30-40%). Second jobs are not only common, but also lucrative: In 2016, Conservative MPs with outside jobs earned, on average, more than £50,000 from them, on top of their parliamentary salary of about £75,000.  
 
Perhaps the most common concern about money in politics is that it influences how MPs vote on the floor of parliament. To find out if this is true, I look at whether MPs’ voting behavior changes when they take up or leave a moonlighting position, compared to their colleagues whose employment status does not change. Private sector jobs have little effect on MPs’ parliamentary votes. There is no change among Labour MPs, and Conservative MPs are only about 0.2 percentage points more likely to rebel against the vote recommendation of their party leadership when earning outside income. This translates to one additional rebellious vote every two years. 
 
Another common concern is that MPs spend less time focusing on their parliamentary work when they have a private sector job. However, I actually find that moonlighting increases participation in parliamentary votes among Conservative MPs. The reason for this counter-intuitive finding is that MPs’ employers are mostly located in London, and when legislators from constituencies that are far away from the capital take up a job, they spend more time there. This makes it easier for them to be present in parliament. 
 
Finally, I find a 60 percent increase in written parliamentary questions when Conservative MPs hold a private sector job. These questions are a way for legislators to request information from specific government ministries. I demonstrate that the increase in questions is largest among MPs in leading company positions, and among those working in knowledge-intensive industries like law and finance. Further, moonlighting Conservative MPs target more questions at ministries that are larger and oversee more procurement spending, and submit more questions that ask about department-internal policy information. This suggests that the additional questions that Conservative MPs ask are related to their private sector employment. 
 
Taken together, these findings are both reassuring and worrying. On the one hand, second jobs do not change which bills become law and do not reduce parliamentary effort. On the other hand, the targeted increase in questions among some legislators is clearly problematic, and raises the possibility that moonlighting MPs change their behavior in other ways too. My article thus shows that one of the most common, and yet least studied, forms of money in politics has important consequences for what politicians’ do. 

About the Author: Simon Weschle is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University. Their research “Politicians’ Private Sector Jobs and Parliamentary Behavior” is now available in Early View and will appear in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Political Science.

 

The American Journal of Political Science (AJPS) is the flagship journal of the Midwest Political Science Association and is published by Wiley.