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A Cross-National Analysis of Party Switching


  • We would like to thank Scott Desposato for his valuable comments on both the first draft and a later iteration of this article. We are also extremely grateful to the editor and anonymous reviewers at Legislative Studies Quarterly for their detailed criticisms, questions, and suggestions. We would also like to thank the conference discussants and participants that have offered feedback on the project. Previous drafts of this article were presented at the 2011 General Conference of the European Political Science Association in Dublin and the 2012 Southern California Comparative Political Institutions (SC2PI) conference at the University of Southern California. We bear all responsibility for any remaining errors. Finally, we would like to note that this article was a collaborative effort and authorship order is alphabetical.


Though instances of party switching have been widely documented, there is little cross-national research on this phenomenon. The prevalence of switching is therefore unknown, and the factors influencing this behavior remain unclear. Using the most comprehensive dataset on party switching ever constructed, we illustrate both that interparty movement is more common than previously assumed and that there are substantial differences in its prevalence across parties. To explain this variation, we examine the relationship between legislators' motivations, institutional arrangements, and switching. We find that motivational explanations are correlated with interparty movement and that institutional arrangements exhibit only limited direct influence on switching.