Setting the rules of the game: The choice of electoral systems in advanced democracies

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American Political Science Review 93, pp. 609-624, September, 1999
To cite or link this document: Boix, Carles
dc.contributor.other Universitat Pompeu Fabra. Departament d'Economia i Empresa 1999-01-01
dc.identifier.citation American Political Science Review 93, pp. 609-624, September, 1999
dc.description.abstract The origins of electoral systems have received scant attention in the literature. Looking at the history of electoral rules in the advanced world in the last century, this paper shows that the existing wide variation in electoral rules across nations can be traced to the strategic decisions that the current ruling parties, anticipating the coordinating consequences of different electoral regimes, make to maximize their representation according to the following conditions. On the one hand, as long as the electoral arena does not change substantially and the current electoral regime serves the ruling parties well, the latter have no incentives to modify the electoral regime. On the other hand, as soon as the electoral arena changes (due to the entry of new voters or a change in their preferences), the ruling parties will entertain changing the electoral system, depending on two main conditions: the emergence of new parties and the coordinating capacities of the old ruling parties. Accordingly, if the new parties are strong, the old parties shift from plurality/ majority rules to proportional representation (PR) only if the latter are locked into a 'non-Duvergerian' equilibrium; i.e. if no old party enjoys a dominant position (the case of most small European states) --conversely, they do not if a Duvergerian equilibrium exists (the case of Great Britain). Similarly, whenever the new entrants are weak, a non-PR system is maintained, regardless of the structure of the old party system (the case of the USA). The paper discusses as well the role of trade and ethnic and religious heterogeneity in the adoption of PR rules.
dc.language.iso eng
dc.relation.ispartofseries Economics and Business Working Papers Series; 367
dc.rights L'accés als continguts d'aquest document queda condicionat a l'acceptació de les condicions d'ús establertes per la següent llicència Creative Commons
dc.title Setting the rules of the game: The choice of electoral systems in advanced democracies
dc.type info:eu-repo/semantics/workingPaper 2014-06-03T07:13:58Z
dc.subject.keyword Microeconomics
dc.subject.keyword electoral systems
dc.subject.keyword political parties
dc.subject.keyword institutions
dc.rights.accessRights info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

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