Partisan conflict and citizens’ democratic attitudes: How partisanship shapes reactions to legislative brawls

Nathan F. Batto, Emily Beaulieu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Why do legislative brawls persist even though most citizens do not like them? Physical fights in the legislature present an image of extreme discord and bitter conflict in the democratic process. Original survey data from Taiwan, with its extensive history of legislative brawling, find that Taiwanese citizens view brawls and brawling legislators negatively. We argue that brawls persist despite general unpopularity because opposition legislators can strategically send signals to influential actors, such as strong party supporters in the case of Taiwan. An original panel survey conducted before and after a legislative brawl shows evidence consistent with this argument and demonstrates that brawling causes average evaluations of the legislature and of the democratic process to worsen. Thus, this example of persistent, unpopular partisan conflict helps us understand more generally why politicians might deliberately violate democratic norms and reveals some of the broader consequences of such violations for democratic representation and legitimacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-328
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Politics
Volume82
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was conducted in compliance with relevant laws and approved by the Academia Sinica institutional review board, AS-IRB-HS 08-106047. Financial support was provided by the ROC Ministry of Science and Technology grants MOST 104-2410-H-001-057-MY2 and MOST 106-2410-H-001-033-MY2. Data and supporting materials necessary to reproduce the numerical results in the article are available in the JOP Dataverse (https://dataverse.harvard.edu /dataverse/jop). An online appendix with supplementary material is available at https://doi.org/10.1086/705923.

Funding Information:
This research was conducted in compliance with relevant laws and approved by the Academia Sinica institutional review board, AS-IRB-HS 08-106047. Financial support was provided by the ROC Ministry of Science and Technology grants MOST 104-2410-H-001-057-MY2 and MOST 106-2410-H-001-033-. The authors wish to thank Yun-chu Tsai, Ting-wei Weng, Yi-ting Lin, Eric Chen-hua Yu, Christopher Gandrud, Tse-kang Leng, Chia-hung Tsai, Tiffany Barnes, Songying Fang, Randy Stevenson, Rick Wilson, Carew Boulding, Jennifer Fitzgerald, Andy Baker, and the anonymous referees. Previous versions of this article were presented at forums at Soochow University, Academia Sinica, University of Ken-MY2. D tucky, Rice University, and University of Colorado and at conferences held by the Asian Election Studies and the Midwest Political Science Association.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the Southern Political Science Association.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science

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