MP Firefighting and the Partisan Logic

Hallbera Fríða West

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Control of executive power is a central accountability concern. This article focuses on ways for parliament and MPs to assist the voter in this important task. Parliamentary systems empower parliaments by a range of control institutions, but the role of political parties challenges MPs incentives to engage in control of government. This article focuses on Fire Alarm control activity, but argues that Fire Alarms call for MP Firefighting. In parliament, MPs have the opportunity to respond to reports from decentral control institutions about government mal-administration. Building on models of rational politicians, this paper investigates when MPs in fact engage in Firefighting related to Fire Alarm cases from the Ombudsman and audit institution. The article argues that MPs engage in Firefighting when it serves partisan purposes. The paper relies on a medium-N dataset of reports from the Faroese Ombudsman and Audit General (52 cases) and applies a mixed-method research design. The results show that the partisan logic dominates MP Firefighting. Opposition MPs use government mistakes to damage government reputation. However, the paper argues of the possibility of a more parliamentarian outcome, since focus on Fire Alarm cases puts pressure on government to make amends.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalScandinavian Political Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • parliaments
  • politics
  • parliamentary systems


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