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The Depth of Parliamentary Elite Circulation: Long-Term Trends and Critical Elections in Denmark

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[AbstractThis article argues that studies of parliamentary elite circulation should not focus exclusively on raw turnover rates, which pertain mostly to the entry and exit of new members of parliament. Studies should also pay attention to the circulation that goes on below the surface, i.e., circulation of long-standing and senior MPs - what might be termed the “depth” of parliamentary elite circulation. I develop an analytical tool for measuring the depth of circulation and use it to test the hypothesis that at “critical” parliamentary elections the pattern of parliamentary circulation is concentrated on seniors as well as newcomers. I then use this tool to analyze circulation of the Danish parliamentary elite during the past 150 years. If only gross turnover rates are studied, it appears that the elite has become increasingly open. But trends in the depth of circulation reveal a more complex pattern, requiring a more nuanced assessment of parliamentary elite dynamics., Abstract This article argues that studies of parliamentary elite circulation should not focus exclusively on raw turnover rates, which pertain mostly to the entry and exit of new members of parliament. Studies should also pay attention to the circulation that goes on below the surface, i.e., circulation of long-standing and senior MPs – what might be termed the “depth” of parliamentary elite circulation. I develop an analytical tool for measuring the depth of circulation and use it to test the hypothesis that at “critical” parliamentary elections the pattern of parliamentary circulation is concentrated on seniors as well as newcomers. I then use this tool to analyze circulation of the Danish parliamentary elite during the past 150 years. If only gross turnover rates are studied, it appears that the elite has become increasingly open. But trends in the depth of circulation reveal a more complex pattern, requiring a more nuanced assessment of parliamentary elite dynamics.]

Affiliations: 1: Political Science, University of Southern Denmark, Email: ulk@sam.sdu.dk

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