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MPs and the rural-urban debate. How the national legislature handles rural preferences

MPs and the rural-urban debate: How the national legislature handles rural preferences

Speaker: (opens in a new window)Alberto de León (University College Dublin)

Wednesday, November 22, 14:00–14:45 (Irish time)

Please register (opens in a new window)here to receive the link and password to the online meeting and information on the room at UCD.

Abstract: Existing research offers evidence about the phenomenon of geographic representation and legislators' incentives to attach greater weight to geographic representation and engage in localism behaviour. Indeed, in the developed world, the division between large cities and rural areas has become in the spotlight since left-behind places increasingly lend themselves to the forces of populism or new political parties. In multilevel countries, the MPs from periphery regions and rural areas increase their importance. The aim of this study is twofold. First, it analyses if the urban-rural cleavage has increased in the parliamentary and public debate. Second, it explores how the entry of new rural and niche parties may influence the discourse of state-wide parties. We expect an increase in rural references in the national legislature after a period of low regional references. We use data from legislatures and apply a dictionary-supervised text analysis to Spanish parliamentary speeches to predict MP mentions in rural/urban topics. We compare MPs' references to the diverse geographical areas and rural-specific concepts when there are rural and periphery representatives or not in the national legislature in the parliament (2011-2023). We differentiate rural, regionalist, and periphery parties and regional MPs from state-wide parties because of the different party targets. This longitudinal analysis holds relevant implications in the periphery and rural-urban studies and the MPs' political behaviour in multilevel countries and institutions using quantitative text analysis.

About the speaker: Alberto de León is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Political Science at University College Dublin. Previously, he was a PhD Candidate in the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, where he worked under the supervision of Dr Zachary Greene. His research focuses on applications of computational social science, including quantitative text analysis, survey data, and in a more substantive way, party (and intra-party) politics, devolution and decentralization, political behaviour, and comparative politics.