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

Author

Listed:
  • Folke, Olle

    () (Columbia University)

  • Persson, Torsten

    () (Institute for International Economic Studies)

  • Rickne, Johanna

    () (SOFI, Stockholm University)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Folke, Olle & Persson, Torsten & Rickne, Johanna, 2014. "Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden," Working Paper Series 1002, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:iuiwop:1002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chang, Eric C. C. & Golden, Miriam A., 2007. "Electoral Systems, District Magnitude and Corruption," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 37(01), pages 115-137, January.
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    9. Feddersen, Timothy J & Pesendorfer, Wolfgang, 1996. "The Swing Voter's Curse," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 408-424, June.
    10. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
    11. 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, September.
    12. Paul F. Whiteley (ed.), 1998. "Economic Policy," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, volume 0, number 996.
    13. Robert Barro, 1973. "The control of politicians: An economic model," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 14(1), pages 19-42, March.
    14. Rafael Hortala-Vallve & Hannes Mueller, 2015. "Primaries: the unifying force," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 289-305, June.
    15. 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.
    16. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:8:p:2204-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Timothy Besley & Olle Folke & Torsten Persson & Johanna Rickne, 2017. "Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 107(8), pages 2204-2242, August.
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    Citations

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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.
    2. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2016. "Electoral Rules and Political Selection: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 932-968.
    3. Rafael Hortala-Vallve & Hannes Mueller, 2015. "Primaries: the unifying force," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 163(3), pages 289-305, June.
    4. repec:oup:qjecon:v:132:y:2017:i:4:p:1877-1914. is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Folke, Olle & Rickne, Johanna, 2014. "The Glass Ceiling in Politics: Formalization and Empirical Tests," Working Paper Series 1034, Research Institute of Industrial Economics.
    6. Andrew Beath & Fotini Christia & Georgy Egorov & Ruben Enikolopov, 2014. "Electoral Rules and the Quality of Politicians: Theory and Evidence from a Field Experiment in Afghanistan," NBER Working Papers 20082, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Santosh Anagol & Thomas Fujiwara, 2016. "The Runner-Up Effect," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(4), pages 927-991.
    8. Ernesto Dal Bó & Frederico Finan & Olle Folke & Torsten Persson & Johanna Rickne, 2017. "Who Becomes A Politician?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 132(4), pages 1877-1914.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Preferential Voting; Accountability; Regression Discontinuity Design;

    JEL classification:

    • H70 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - General

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