Incentives for Non-participation: Absence in the United Kingdom House of Commons, 1997–2015

Zoltán Fazekas*, Martin Ejnar Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The ability to hold MPs accountable for their actions is one of the cornerstones of modern representative democracy. While it is important for MPs to send signals to both their constituents and to their party, a large number of MPs remain absent from votes. Those absences are an important part of the MP’s toolbox, but absences carry limitations, rooted in electoral and political constraints. We investigate how—conditional on the electoral cycle—some well-established political constraints along the government and opposition lines vary in strength. We examine the absence probabilities of MPs in the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2015, and find that as the next elections are approaching, political constraints somewhat weaken and electoral ones take over, but marked differences emerge between parliamentary sessions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Choice
Issue number1-2
Pages (from-to)51-73
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 15 January 2022.


  • Political constraints
  • Electoral constraints
  • Absence
  • Legislative behavior
  • House of Commons

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