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Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden

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Author Info

  • Folke, Olle

    ()
    (Columbia University)

  • Persson, Torsten

    ()
    (Institute for International Economic Studies)

  • Rickne, Johanna

    ()
    (Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN))

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    Abstract

    Preferential voting has been introduced in a number of proportional election systems over the last 20 years, mainly as a means to increase the accountability of individual politicians. But most of these reforms have been criticized as blatant failures. In this paper, we discover a genuinely new fact, which calls into question this negative evaluation. We show that preferential voting in a general election can operate as a stand-in internal primary election for top party positions. To do this, we rely on a unique data set from four waves of Swedish local elections, which includes every nominated politician in each of 290 municipal assemblies. We use a natural-experiment (regression-discontinuity) approach to estimate the causal effect of winning the most preferential votes on becoming the local party leader, and find that narrow "list winners" are over 50 percent more likely to become party leaders than their runner-ups. Comparing across politicians, the effect of list winning is the strongest for competent politicians, who are also more likely to draw preferential votes than mediocre politicians. Comparing across municipalities, the response to narrow list winning is the strongest within unthreatened governing majorities, where voters also use the preferential vote the most frequently.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Research Institute of Industrial Economics in its series Working Paper Series with number 1002.

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    Length: 32 pages
    Date of creation: 17 Jan 2014
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1002

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    Keywords: Preferential Voting; Accountability; Regression Discontinuity Design;

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    References

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    1. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2009. "Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator," NBER Working Papers 14726, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Piketty, Thomas, 2000. "Voting as Communicating," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 169-91, January.
    3. Alberto Alesina & Nouriel Roubini & Gerald D. Cohen, 1997. "Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262510944, December.
    4. Svaleryd, Helena & Vlachos, Jonas, 2007. "Political Rents in a Non-Corrupt Democracy," Working Paper Series 698, Research Institute of Industrial Economics, revised 26 Mar 2008.
    5. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
    6. David S. Lee & Enrico Moretti & Matthew J. Butler, 2004. "Do Voters Affect Or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U. S. House," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(3), pages 807-859, August.
    7. John Ferejohn, 1986. "Incumbent performance and electoral control," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 50(1), pages 5-25, January.
    8. Guido Imbens & Thomas Lemieux, 2007. "Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice," NBER Technical Working Papers 0337, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Meirowitz, Adam & Shotts, Kenneth W., 2009. "Pivots versus signals in elections," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 744-771, March.
    10. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-24, June.
    11. Rafael Hortala-Vallve & Hannes Mueller, 2010. "Primaries: The Unifying Force," Working Papers 496, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
    12. Besley, Timothy & Folke, Olle & Persson, Torsten & Rickne, Johanna, 2013. "Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 985, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    13. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
    14. Per Pettersson-Lidbom, 2008. "Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 6(5), pages 1037-1056, 09.
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    Cited by:
    1. Santosh Anagol & Thomas Fujiwara, 2014. "The Runner-Up Effect," NBER Working Papers 20261, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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