Legislators have many tools to fulfill their responsibilities as representatives. Indeed, a significant subset of the literature on representation addresses how elected legislators provide constituency service. Constituency service activities may include securing resources for the district, providing information to citizens, or intervening with government agencies to prompt a response or resolve a dispute. This paper uses data from Ukraine to extend our knowledge about representation and constituency service.
As a new democracy with evolving norms about representation, Ukraine provides an ideal setting to investigate legislative activity. Our research focuses on a specific mechanism through which legislators may perform constituency service. Legislators have the right to file formal requests for information or action from parliamentary bodies, government ministries, regional politicians, and directors of enterprises and organizations. Officially, these requests serve an oversight function. However, they often constitute advocacy efforts by legislators, and provide important insights into how politicians fulfill their roles as elected representatives. Ukraine’s parliament collects and publishes information about requests, and they constitute a key data source for our investigation.
In the paper, we address several questions related to the use of deputy requests: Do changes in electoral rules affect the use of deputy requests? Do parties use requests differently? What explains variation in the use of requests among individual legislators? We address these issues in four sections. First, we outline theoretical expectations, focusing on the constituency service literature. Second, we explain the formal institutional rules surrounding deputy requests in Ukraine. Third, we present data aggregated at the level of parties and parliamentary sessions to evaluate hypotheses about institutional and partisan effects. Fourth, we present findings from our analysis of individuallevel data to discern what features influence how deputies use requests.