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District magnitude and representation of the majority’s preferences: Evidence from popular and parliamentary votes

  • Marco Portmann


  • David Stadelmann


  • Reiner Eichenberger


Representatives have more effective incentives to cater to the preferences of the majority of citizens when they are elected in districts with few rather than many seats. We investigate this hypothesis empirically by matching Swiss members of parliament’s voting behavior on legislative proposals with real referendum outcomes on the same issues for the years 1996 to 2008. We thus identify the impact of district magnitude on representatives’ incentives to adhere to citizens’ revealed preferences. We find systematic, statistically significant and economically relevant evidence that individual representatives from districts with few seats vote more often in line with majority preferences. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 151 (2012)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 585-610

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:151:y:2012:i:3:p:585-610
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