Plurality versus Proportional Representation: An Analysis of Sicilian Elections
The competing merits of plurality and proportional representation have intrigued political economists and political scientists for quite some time. Of primary interest is whether one or the other system is better in serving the interests of the electorate. Since theoreticians are unable to unambiguously determine the answer to this question, the issue must ultimately be decided empirically. We use data from Sicilian elections, where the system was recently altered toward the system of plurality. We are able to demonstrate that the proportional representation system engenders greater information among voters and elicits greater commitment form them than plurality. We are also able to show that in larger towns increased information causes a more dispersed vote under a proportional representation system; further, this result does not hold under plurality. This may have some implications for the size of positional rents reaped by political parties under the two electoral systems. Copyright 1996 by Kluwer Academic Publishers
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