Journal article

Free vote patterns in the New South Wales state parliament

7 Sep 2015
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Abstract

This research note examines patterns of MPs’ voting behaviour during ‘conscience’ or ‘free’ votes on three ‘morality politics’ issues in the lower house of the New South Wales state parliament in Australia: adoption rights for gay couples; scientists’ use of therapeutic cloning; and the status of the Sydney Medically Supervised Injection Centre. First, the research note reviews the literature on conscience voting and hypothesises that party will be the main predictor of voting patterns, but also establishes that previous studies have almost exclusively focused on national legislatures. Next the research note discusses methodological issues. Third, it presents the analysis of free vote patterns in the New South Wales parliament on the three ‘morality politics’ issues, along four key variables: party; sex; social ideology; and religion. The analysis of voting in the New South Wales parliament challenges existing explanations of free voting, where party is the key predictor of voting patterns. Intra-party unity figures show that party membership is a weaker predictor of voting behaviour in the two main political parties in New South Wales than in either the Australian parliament or in overseas parliaments. It is argued that at the subnational level other factors are more important in explanations of free vote patterns.

 

Publication Details
Identifiers: 
doi: 
10.1080/13572334.2015.1077579
Volume: 
21
Issue: 
4
Pagination: 
574-584
Access Rights Type: 
Peer Reviewed: 
Yes
Published year only: 
2015
33
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