Interesting how many old-Etonians were parachuted into safe seats, including our own Hugo Swire. But it isn’t looking quite so safe at the moment. What on EARTH would Swire DO if he was just a constituency MP (or possibly not an MP at all). No wonder he rants at Independents – more of a threat now than ever before!
“Voters elect their members of parliament (MPs) in general elections, but a large majority of MPs have very little to do with the day-to-day governing of the country. It is rather the ministers in government, as selected by the victorious party leaders, who do. Hence there is an obvious link between the general elections and government formation with regard to who selects ministers.
In a recent study with Elad Klein, we show that there is another—albeit a less obvious—connection in terms of who gets selected as ministers; MPs in electorally safe seats are more likely to become ministers.
This is based on an analysis whether the constituency results from the elections to the House of Commons over the period 1992–2015 influenced the likelihood of MPs being selected as ministers in the United Kingdom (UK).
The House of Commons provides the perfect case to assess the electoral connection of ministerial selection due to the single-member districts, large government size, and the relatively decentralised candidate selection process in the UK.
Electoral safety affects the ministerial selection because elections are a constraint over the preferences of MPs and their parties. MPs need to stay in the parliament by being re-elected to be able to pursue other goals, including attaining promotion to government ranks. On the other hand, party leaders need to maximise the number of their MPs in order to stay in the government to achieve their policy ideals.
Electoral constraints differ with the marginality of seats for each MP in Westminster systems. In single-member districts, it is comparatively clear to members and to their leaders how electorally safe their parliamentary seats are.
As the electoral marginality of a seat increases, or in other words as the number of votes separating success from failure to secure a seat decreases, re-election becomes the dominant motivation.
Our results show that there is indeed a positive relationship between MPs electoral safety and their probability of securing a ministerial office. …
… For an MP with 5% electoral safety, which is often considered as marginal, the probability of becoming a minister is one in 10. In contrast, a 35% majority more than doubles this probability for MPs.