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This paper investigates why some legislators tend to switch parties frequently while others tend to stay put. On the assumption that the ultimate goal of legislators is to be reelected, I argue that voters' demands for local/individual benefits, or pork, and legislators' lack of access to resources for such benefits are likely to lead the legislators to switch parties in order to improve their electoral chances in the subsequent election. By analyzing party switches by legislators from 1988 to 2008 in South Korea, where the president controls access to the pork pipeline, I find that the president's party members are less likely and independents are more likely to change party affiliations, irrespective of voter demands for pork or national public policies. However, I also find that opposition party legislators who are elected from less-developed districts, where voters tend to desire pork over policy, are more likely to switch parties than those elected from more-developed districts. These findings suggest that interaction between voter demands and party access to resources influences politicians’ party loyalty: voter demands for pork (or policy) tend to lead politicians to be less (or more) loyal to their current parties. Voter demands, however, have little impact on the party loyalty of those who are already in parties with access to the pork pipeline
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DOI 10.1017/s1468109913000224
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