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Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences

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  • Piolatto, Amedeo

Abstract

In this paper I show that in a parliamentary democracy, contrary to common wisdom, under a proportional electoral rule governments do not necessarily represent voters' preferences better than under plurality rule. While voters affect the composition of Parliament, decisions are taken by a subset of Parliamentarians: a coalition of them decides directly and through the government. As a consequence, two distortions might occur: one at the electoral stage when Parliament is formed and the other at the coalition formation stage, when government is chosen. Through a model à la Rubinstein, I show that small parties' bargaining power increases when parties are patient; for sufficiently patient parties, the small (but pivotal) ones obtain a large bargaining power. The distortion introduced by plurality rule goes in the opposite direction; this can be beneficial (in term of voters' representativeness) as long as the impact of the two distortions is similar. I show that under non restrictive conditions, plurality rule can outperform the proportional rule in terms of representativeness of voters' preferences.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12610.

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Date of creation: 04 Sep 2008
Date of revision: 08 Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12610

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Keywords: Electoral systems; Proportional rule; Plurality rule; Voters' representation;

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  1. Massimo Morelli, 2004. "Party Formation and Policy Outcomes under Different Electoral Systems," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 71, pages 829-853, 07.
  2. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
  3. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert Gary-Bobo, 2012. "On the optimal number of representatives," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 153(3), pages 419-445, December.
  4. David P. Baron & Daniel Diermeier, 2001. "Elections, Governments, And Parliaments In Proportional Representation Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 933-967, August.
  5. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2006. "Coalition Governments in a Model of Parliamentary Democracy," Working Papers 2006.83, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  6. Norman Schofield, 1986. "Existence of a ‘structurally stable’ equilibrium for a non-collegial voting rule," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 267-284, January.
  7. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  8. Daniel Diermeier & Antoni Merlo, 1999. "An Empirical Investigation of Coalitional Bargaining Procedures," Discussion Papers 1267, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Antonio Merlo & Daniel Diermeier & Hülya Eraslan, 2004. "Bicameralism and Government Formation," Working Papers 2004.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  10. Amer, Rafael & Carreras, Francese & Gimenez, Jose Miguel, 2002. "The modified Banzhaf value for games with coalition structure: an axiomatic characterization," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 45-54, January.
  11. Tasos Kalandrakis, 2004. "Proposal Rights and Political Power," Wallis Working Papers WP38, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  12. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2002. "Bicameralism and Government Formation, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-010, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Feb 2007.
  13. Harald Wiese, 2007. "Measuring The Power Of Parties Within Government Coalitions," International Game Theory Review (IGTR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(02), pages 307-322.
  14. James M. Snyder Jr. & Michael M. Ting & Stephen Ansolabehere, 2005. "Legislative Bargaining under Weighted Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 981-1004, September.
  15. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 1999. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," Working Papers 1053, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
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Cited by:
  1. Felix Arnold, 2013. "German MPs' Outside Jobs and Their Repercussions on Parliamentary Effort," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1340, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
  2. Climent Quintana Domeque & Sonia Oreffice, 2010. "Anthropometry and socioeconomics in the couple: evidence from the PSID," Working Papers. Serie AD 2010-16, Instituto Valenciano de Investigaciones Económicas, S.A. (Ivie).

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