This question introduced me to an interesting legislative behavior called pairing. In some legislatures, when a member of one party is unable to vote the opposing party may decide to ask one of their members not to vote also.

The linked question is about the UK. But I wonder, how common is pairing across legislatures around the world? That is, in how many national legislatures does pairing occur?

  • You can find some of it for Australia by searching Pairing Agreements on the Parliament of Australia website. I am sure there is a better phrase to narrow it down. Also the wikipedia page on parliamentary pairing mentions Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, and United States with alternative forms in New Zealand.
    – user_42
    Jul 19, 2018 at 19:22
  • 1
    This relevant recent question shows that it happens very rarely in the US House of Representatives. Are you only looking for legislatures where pairing is relatively common like the UK, or legislatures that simply allow pairing(even if it is completely unofficial)?
    – Giter
    Jul 19, 2018 at 19:25
  • @Giter Only in places where it is in practice. Jul 19, 2018 at 19:31
  • 1
    "In some legislatures, when a member of one party is unable to vote the opposing party may decide to ask one of their members not to vote also." This obviously only works in bipartisan systems. Most democracies have multi-party systems.
    – Roland
    Jul 20, 2018 at 11:09
  • 1
    @Roland I had that thought also, but I imagine it could be extended to coalitions. Maybe an answer will tell us whether this actually happens or not. Jul 20, 2018 at 15:48

4 Answers 4


In Denmark it is set 100% into system as a practical measure to allow politicians for participating in other events throughout the day.

They are called clearing agreements, and here is a link to a danish wiki that hopefully gets translated for you if you don't read danish



In Belgium Pairing is mentioned in the rules for the House of representatives. It's allowed, but stipulated that they should be disclosed before the start of a vote (absent reps are expected to have a good explanation for being absent, abstaining reps are expected to have an explanation for abstaining).

It is explicitly mentioned in the same rules that a disclosed Pair is never subject to debate.

Pairing is not mentioned explicitly in the rules for the Belgian Senate, however, they're also commonplace there (this can be seen in one of the records).


It's very common in Israel.

There was a recent scandal when opposition members refused to pair with a coalition member whose wife had died.


I can’t remember specific cases, but I think something like this happens in state legislatures in the USA.

The closest thing to pairing here is lawmakers from both sides of the aisle collaborating on new laws like Sarbanes Oxley

  • 1
    Thanks, Alen. This question isn't specific to the United States, though an answer that focuses on how common pairing is in state legislatures could be interesting. However, I think this needs a more solid basis before it's a strong answer. Jul 20, 2018 at 15:48

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .