High-engagement members of parliament in the Lok Sabha and their improved re-election prospects.

Published: 11 September 2023| Version 1 | DOI: 10.17632/5dghz7nn36.1
Aditya Kurup, Suparna Aggarwal


Our research hypothesis is that the re-election prospects of a Member of Parliament (MP) are a function of their level of engagement in parliamentary proceedings. Employing propensity score matching (PSM) techniques on a dataset of MP characteristics and activities in the 16th Lok Sabha, we can analyse the impact that high levels of parliamentary engagement metrics – attendance, questions asked, debates participated in, and private member bills introduced – have on the re-election likelihood of MPs in the 2019 general election. The results reveal that MPs who posed more questions, engaged in extensive debates, and introduced more private member bills exhibited heightened re-election prospects. However, MPs who possessed above-average and above-median attendance records experienced no significant advantage in their re-election chances. The data for individual MP attributes, their vote share and margins of victory in the 2014 general elections, their parliamentary activities during the 16th Lok Sabha, and their election outcomes in the 2019 general elections were sourced from PRS Legislative Research and the Trivedi Centre for Political Data’s LokDhaba dataset. The analysis is centred on MPs who served the entirety of their term from the 2014 general elections until the 2019 general elections, excluding those who left early for any reason and their replacements. MPs who were appointed as Ministers in the Union Cabinet were excluded, since they represent the government and not their constituency; therefore, their participation numbers will be skewed. Additionally, the two MPs from the Anglo-Indian community, who were nominated by the President of India and not elected, were not considered. This yielded a total analysis pool of 420 MPs. Eight treatment variables were constructed by including those MPs who performed above the mean and median in the four parliamentary activity measures in the treatment group (characterised as ‘high-engagement MPs), and those that performed equal to or below these benchmarks in the control group (characterised as ‘low-engagement MPs). The outcome variable is a binary variable coded ‘1’ if the MP was re-elected into the 17th Lok Sabha and ‘0’ otherwise. However, due to the aforementioned individual MP attributes indirectly affecting their participation levels (self-selection bias), assignment into treatment and control groups is non-random. Therefore, directly comparing the treatment and control groups in the presence of these systemic biases between them using a difference in means test (t-test) would result in faulty inferences. The propensity score matching technique was harnessed to identify MPs with comparable attributes across treatment and control groups, extenuating these biases. Finally, the average treatment effect on the treated (ATET) was computed to estimate the average impact of above-average and above-median parliamentary engagement on the likelihood of re-election. Stata do-file is also provided.



Political Science, India, Democracy, Parliamental Politics