Drawing on systematic participant observations, the study offers unique comparative findings about the importance of parties within French and German MPs’ district work. First, it looks at deputies’ communication with their party organization at the grassroots level. Second, it sheds light on whether MPs act locally as representatives of their party and, thus, contribute to the parties’ linkage function. Moreover, the study investigates MPs distancing themselves from their party, thereby providing valuable insights for the party unity literature. Comparatively, the data confirm that dissimilar incentives lead to differences regarding internal party work and party representation. However, contrasting results from questionnaires and observations also reveal divergences between words and deeds. Not least, the results are important because of France’s recent abolition of the cumul des mandats (multiple office-holding).

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