Laws Against Party Switching, Defecting, or Floor Crossing in National Parliaments

Authors: Kenneth Janda | Published in: working paper series on the legal regulation of political parties, no. 02, August. | Date of publication: 2009


Many western scholars may be surprised to learn that parliamentary members who switch parties during the session may be expelled from parliament because they violate the law in their country. This paper studies such "anti-defection" laws. It investigates the extent of such legislation; why and how often legislators switch parties; how this phenomenon has been studied; why some scholars favor banning party switching; why politicians have legislated against party defections; and the consequences of such bans for political parties and party systems. It reveals that anti-defection laws are rare in established democracies but common in nascent democracies, where anti-defection laws are often defended as temporary measures to consolidate a chaotic party system. However, many nations enshrine anti-defection provisions in their constitutions, which are not depositories for temporary legislation.

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