Explaining MPs’ communication to their constituents: Evidence from the UK House of Commons

Katrin Auel, Resul Umit
(2018) British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 20(3), 731–752

DOI  pdf

Everyone agrees that members of parliaments (MPs) should keep in touch with the people they represent. Yet some MPs invest more in communication with their constituency than others. We approach this problem with data from the parliamentary communication allowance in the United Kingdom, where all MPs had the same amount of budget to reach out proactively to their electors. We base our analysis on two fundamental assumptions: that re-election is the main goal of legislators and that communication to signal trustworthiness is one way of securing their re- election. We then examine the impact of electoral prospects, constituency characteristics, and parliamentary behaviour on communication to constituents. We find evidence that, even in the absence of budgetary constraints, MPs’ constituency communication depends on challenges to their re-election.