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Role-Switching in the Dutch Parliament: Reinvigorating Role Theory?

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The lack of explanatory power of roles in the study of legislative behaviour has led to questioning of the utility of role theory. The problem may be that scholars tend to focus on classifying legislators according to one role orientation, thereby running the risk of oversimplification. Using questions from the 1990, 2001 and 2006 Dutch Parliamentary Studies, this study explores whether MPs specialise in a particular role or switch between roles depending on the situation at hand. A general trend towards specialisation in the partisan role is detected, accompanied by a decrease in the number of role-switching MPs. Furthermore, it is found that whereas government MPs tend to specialise in the role of the parliamentarian, opposition MPs are more prone to put on their partisan hats.
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Keywords: Dutch politics; executive–legislative relations; legislative roles; role theory

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Political Science at Leiden University, The Netherlands< xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="">, Email:, URL:

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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