Electoral Reform and Parliamentary Debates

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Individual legislators have stronger incentives to develop personal profiles in candidate-centered than in party-centered systems. Moreover, the party leadership have stronger incentives to protect the “brand-name” of the party in the latter than in the former system. We investigate whether the electoral system also a↵ect the topics discussed in plenary debates by comparing the topics discussed in the Norwegian Parliament before and after the 1919 electoral reform. With this re- form, Norway changed from being a candidate centered system to a party centered system. Focusing on MPs that serve both before and after the reform, we find that party di↵erences take prevalence over personal characteristics with the change from candidate to party centered system. Specifically, we show how speeches turn from candidate-centric to party ideological contestation as a consequence of electoral reform.