Legislative turnover and its sources: It’s the selection

Published date01 February 2019
Date01 February 2019
Subject MatterArticles
2019, Vol. 39(1) 101 –112
© The Author(s) 2017
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DOI: 10.1177/0263395717701161
Legislative turnover and its
sources: It’s the selection
Athanassios Gouglas and Bart Maddens
KU Leuven Public Governance Institute, Belgium
The research note argues that legislative turnover can be decomposed into two main sources
of newcomer entry into the legislature: entry by election and entry by selection. This is
demonstrated using available data on political mandates in the lower chambers of Austria, Belgium,
the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the period 1945–2015. We observe that selection is
the leading source of new member entry across country and across time. Most turnover happens
prior to general elections. This appears to be a general rule characterizing the phenomenon.
We speculate as to the reason why. The conditions under which election appears to overtake
selection as a major source of new member entry are investigated.
circulation of political elites, legislative turnover, parliamentary turnover, political elites,
representative elites
Received: 7th September 2016; Revised version received: 20th December 2016; Accepted: 25th January 2017
In this research note, we decompose legislative turnover into its constituent parts. We use
as an example turnover in four European lower chambers for which data are available: the
Austrian Nationalrat, the Belgian De Kamer/La Chambre, the Dutch Tweede Kamer and
the UK House of Commons. Turnover is understood as the proportion of members of a
legislative assembly that change after general elections. As Matland and Studlar (2004:
106) argued, ‘the decomposition of turnover in its constituent parts is a useful first start-
ing point for internationally comparative research on the topic’. However, such a descrip-
tive decomposition of turnover has not merited enough attention by researchers outside
the US context. Moreover, where turnover has been decomposed, the approach was
primarily pre-occupied with the fates of incumbents. As a result, turnover is usually
decomposed into forms of incumbent exit like death, retirement, failure to gain
re-nomination and failure to be re-elected.
Corresponding author:
Athanassios Gouglas, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute, Parkstraat 45 – bus 3609, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.
Email: athanassios.gouglas@kuleuven.be
701161POL0010.1177/0263395717701161PoliticsGouglas and Maddens

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