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    Legislator dissent as a valence signal

    Campbell, Rosie and Cowley, P. and Vivyan, N. and Wagner, M. (2019) Legislator dissent as a valence signal. British Journal of Political Science 49 (1), pp. 105-128. ISSN 0007-1234.

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    Abstract

    Existing research suggests that voters tend to respond positively to legislator independence due to two types of mechanism. First, dissent has an indirect effect, increasing a legislator’s media coverage and personal recognition among constituents (profile effects). Second, constituents react positively to dissent when this signals that the legislator has matching political or representational preferences (conditional evaluation). We argue for a third effect: dissent acts as a valence signal of integrity and trustworthiness. Consistent with the valence signalling mechanism, we use new observational and experimental evidence to show that British voters have a strong and largely unconditional preference for legislators who dissent. Our findings pose a dilemma for political systems which rely on strong and cohesive parties.

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