Understanding and Predicting Legislative Behavior in the Verkhovna Rada through New Methods of Ecological Modeling

Nicolas Harder, Matthew Brashears, Tymofii Brik, Kathleen Carley, Thomas Magelinski

Contact: nharder@email.sc.edu

The main focus of our research is the formation and dissemination of coalitions in parliaments, which are often difficult to predict. Typically, coalition formation is understood as arising from a political context, legislation, electoral cycles, and the expectations of voters and other stakeholders. However, sociologists know that collaboration and coalition formation often depend on other social processes, such as homophily and connection to groups outside of a parliament. Indeed, recent research shows that legislative decisions of MPs could be influenced by their connections to unions, professional groups, public interest groups, etc. There is existing literature about social networks and collaborations on legislation, but most of it focuses on the United States or U.S. based contexts. In order to expand on this literature, we study the Ukrainian Parliament, known as the Verkhovna Rada, utilizing a novel Hybrid Blau Space model. This new model is an advanced revision of established Blau Space techniques that overcomes several prior limitations, including applicability to smaller settings. The Ukrainian Parliament is a unique and challenging entity to study because of its regularly changing political parties, factions, and irregular legislative voting styles that are often the result of corruption. We propose studying the legislative voting patterns as well as the migration of MPs into (and out of) the coalitions using the Hybrid Blau Space model. The new method uses the framework of cellular automata and probabilistic urn models, to model the outcome of membership recruitment over time. Using this new framework, we look at the legislative behaviors of Parliament Members, their associated political factions, and their ties to different industries, to form a theory for voting behavior on regulatory legislation, and to predict voting patterns. Our study includes a large and diverse series of datasets from three main sources. First, the legislative voting history of Parliament Members over the course of Convocation 8, as well as changes in their faction memberships. This data is available for around 400 parliament members over a period of 4 years and has been used to create Ideal Points, a measure of the political ideology of an individual on a liberal to conservative scale. Second, declarations of company stock holdings for parliament members, including the major economic activities of these companies and the industry for which they are involved. These declarations data include the company that they hold shares in and the industry that the company belongs to. Third, demographic data on each parliament member. With this information, we plan to model the legislative voting behavior of parliament members in relation to their general political ideology, or Ideal Points, and their voting history on regulation of industries in which they held shares in the past.

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