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On one hand, the fact that MPs are elected in single-member districts would suggest they are more likely to break party discipline if their constituency has different interests. On the other hand, some empirical research shows that candidates being selected/approved beforehand by the party [leadership] has a strong effect on party discipline.

So, how does the UK ultimately fare in terms of party discipline compared to other European countries? (Yeah, I know about the Brexit parliamentary saga, but the question is to some extent how much of anomaly that was.)

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I'm not aware of country by country comparisons, but at least for the federal Belgian parliament, measurements have been made:

Belgium has a parliamentary system with coalition governments. Research by Castanheira and Noury in 2007 shows a huge party cohesion. Party cohesion is defined as the percentage MPs vote along bloc majority (A bloc in the Belgian parliament is any group of 5 or more MPs that indicate they will vote together. Except for a few cross-language natural groupings, blocs and parties map 1-to-1). Each party easily breaches 96 percent. Parties that are part of the current coalition government have a higher party cohesion.

Outlier is the VU in the 1999-2003 legislation, during which the party was imploding over socio-economic questions. The left flank rebels eventually seceded to other parties, the remainder transformed into the (center-)right N-VA.

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  • Addendum: these measurements are expected. Similar research shows that party cohesion in Belgium correlates with higher reelection numbers, which is likely explained by election publicity rules favoring party funding and punishing private funding. – DonFusili Jan 30 at 11:55

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