BRIAN J. GAINES
The Impersonal Vote? Constituency Service
and Incumbency Advantage in British Elections, 1950-92
Legislative Studies Quarterly XXIII:167-95

British elections are traditionally understood to be dominated by parties and leaders. Local candidates are taken to be mere ciphers, whose impact on the outcome is negligible. Recently, however, several works have documented a change in MP behavior. Today's members do more constituency service than did their predecessors, in the belief that this will create a personal vote. If the MPs are succeeding, incumbency advantage should now be evident, as it is in American elections. In fact, incumbency advantage does not seem to have changed over the postwar period: for the major parties, it remains small and sporadic.


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