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Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms

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  • Tukiainen, Janne
  • Saarimaa, Tuukka

Abstract

We analyze whether voters value local political representation by exploiting municipal mergers, which increase the number of candidates available to voters and intensify political competition. In the Finnish open-list proportional representation system, voters rank the candidates within parties, and thus, concentrating votes to local candidates increases the extent of local representation. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that the vote distributions become more concentrated in municipalities less likely to gain local representation after the mergers. Moreover, the effect is much larger in municipalities where the benefits of local representation to voters are large. The latter result disentangles voters' responses from the responses of other political actors. The results are important also for designing local government mergers, which are an important policy tool in many countries. They highlight that concerns over deteriorating local democracy due to mergers have merit, because voters have preferences for local representation. At the same time, the vote concentration patterns we find alleviate these concerns.

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  • Tukiainen, Janne & Saarimaa, Tuukka, 2015. "Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms," Working Papers 64, VATT Institute for Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:fer:wpaper:64
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    Cited by:

    1. Saarimaa, Tuukka & Tukiainen, Janne, 2015. "Common pool problems in voluntary municipal mergers," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 140-152.
    2. Harjunen, Oskari & Saarimaa, Tuukka & Tukiainen, Janne, 2021. "Political representation and effects of municipal mergers," Political Science Research and Methods, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(1), pages 72-88, January.
    3. Simon Lapointe & Tuukka Saarimaa & Janne Tukiainen, 2018. "Effects of municipal mergers on voter turnout," Local Government Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(4), pages 512-530, July.
    4. Tribin, Ana, 2020. "Chasing votes with the public budget," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 63(C).
    5. Jon H. Fiva & Askill Halse & Daniel M. Smith, 2018. "Local Candidates and Distributive Politics under Closed-list Proportional Representation," CESifo Working Paper Series 7039, CESifo.
    6. Lyytikäinen, Teemu & Tukiainen, Janne, 2019. "Are voters rational?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 230-242.
    7. Peter Bönisch & Benny Geys & Claus Michelsen, 2015. "David and Goliath in the Poll Booth: Group Size, Voting Power and Voter Turnout," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1491, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    8. Blesse Sebastian & Rösel Felix, 2017. "Was bringen kommunale Gebietsreformen?: Kausale Evidenz zu Hoffnungen, Risiken und alternativen Instrumenten," Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik, De Gruyter, vol. 18(4), pages 307-324, November.
    9. Blesse, Sebastian & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2020. "Citizens’ trade-offs in state merger decisions: Evidence from a randomized survey experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 180(C), pages 438-471.
    10. Oskari Harjunen & Tuukka Saarimaa & Janne Tukiainen, 2021. "Love Thy (Elected) Neighbor? Residential Segregation, Political Representation and Local Public Goods," Discussion Papers 138, Aboa Centre for Economics.
    11. Sebastian Blesse & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Gebietsreformen: Hoffnungen, Risiken und Alternativen," ifo Working Paper Series 234, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral boundary reform; difference-in-differences; local representation; municipality mergers; strategic voting.; Local public economics; Kunnallistalous; Effectiveness of public services; Julkisten palvelujen vaikuttavuus; C210 - Econometric Methods: Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models; C230 - Econometric Methods: Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Models with Panel Data; D720 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking; Elections; Legislatures; and Voting Behavior; H730 - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations: Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects; H770 - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C21 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models
    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • H73 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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