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Black and white photo of Hanna Bäck. Photo.

Hanna Bäck


Black and white photo of Hanna Bäck. Photo.

The influence of type of Mandate and Constituency Characteristics on the substantive Positions in Parliamentary Speeches: An Investigation on the basis of parliamentary Debates in the German Bundestag from 1998 to 2002


  • Marc Debus
  • Hanna Bäck

Summary, in English

Giving speeches in parliament is a key element of elected representatives for signalling their policy agenda and their ideological positions to their party and their electorate. Taking a specific programmatic position might increase the chances of an MP to get re-nominated and to win again a seat in the legislature. In this paper, we build on approaches of responsive behaviour of political actors and on principal agent theories and ask which variables can explain the programmatic positions adopted by MPs in their speeches. To answer our research question, we collected all speeches related to economic policy issues given by members of the German Bundestag in the time period between 1998 and 2002. We estimated their individual policy positions with computerised methods of content analysis. We combine this data with information on the characteristics of MPs, their position in party, parliament and government and, in addition, with the socioeconomic structure and former election results within the MPs' constituency. The results show that German MPs take the characteristics and the economic problem pressure of their constituencies into account when speaking in parliament, so that there is empirical evidence for responsive and vote-seeking behaviour of German MPs. In addition, political and institutional factors like the membership in committees or in (former) cabinets and the way how an MP was elected - directly or by party list - play a role for the degree of MP's programmatic deviation from the party line.


  • Department of Political Science

Publishing year







Swiss Political Science Review





Document type

Journal article


John Wiley & Sons Inc.


  • Political Science




  • ISSN: 1424-7755