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Putting Party First: Swedish MPs and their Constituencies

Journal article
Authors David Karlsson
Published in Representation: Journal of Representative Democracy
Volume 54
Issue 1
Pages 87-102
ISSN 0034-4893
Publication year 2018
Published at School of Public Administration
Pages 87-102
Language en
Keywords MPs, Parliament, Riksdag, RDU, Riksdagsundersökningen, Constituencies, constituency service, valkrets, valkretsarbete, parties, Sweden
Subject categories Political Science, Public Administration Studies


This paper investigates the relationship between Swedish MPs and their constituencies between elections. The main finding is that while most Swedish MPs primarily focus on representing their party and promoting issues of national importance, they are also engaged in constituency service and promoting the interest of their constituency in the Riksdag. The findings also confirm expectations that the incentive structures for re-election tend to make MPs focus their constituency interactions on local party organisations rather than on constituents. Constituency service in the form of individualised casework activities is very rare. MPs who have a marginal, less safe seat (i.e., MPs in smaller constituencies and junior MPs) engage more in constituency work and give less priority to interaction with their local party than MPs with safer seats. The study is based on interviews and on data from surveys conducted among Swedish MPs between 1985 and 2014 (the RDU surveys).

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