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date: 23 January 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines how legislators may serve multiple principals through their party affiliation. It looks at the forms and activities of legislative parties, focusing on established democracies, and the functions that they perform as vehicles of electoral delegation and accountability. The discussion begins by presenting a brief morphology of legislative parties, with particular reference to central players within and around legislative parties in their relationship with individual legislators. Using a principal–agent framework, it considers the complexity of the competing agency relationships of which legislators are often part. It then explores why political parties exist at all, and why they have become such durable features of legislatures and representative democracies. It also describes the link between legislative parties and legislative committees. Finally, it analyzes whether and how political parties influence legislative outputs.

Keywords: legislators, principals, legislative parties, democracies, agency relationships, political parties, legislative committees, legislatures

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