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So Closed: Political Selection in Proportional Systems

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  • Vincenzo Galasso
  • Tommaso Nannicini

Abstract

We analyze political selection in a closed list proportional system where parties have strong gate-keeping power, which they use as an instrument to pursue votes. Parties face a trade-off between selecting loyal candidates or experts, who are highly valued by the voters and thus increase the probability of winning the election. Voters can be rational or behavioral. The former care about the quality mix of the elected candidates in the winning party, and hence about the ordering on the party list. The latter only concentrate on the quality type of the candidates in the top positions of the party list. Our theoretical model shows that to persuade rational voters parties optimally allocate loyalists to safe seats and experts to uncertain positions. Persuading behavioral voters instead requires to position the experts visibly on top of the electoral list. Our empirical analysis, which uses data from the 2013 National election in Italy—held under closed list proportional representation—and from independent pre-electoral polls, is overall supportive of voters’ rational behavior. Loyalists (i.e., party officers or former members of Parliament who mostly voted along party lines) are overrepresented in safe positions, and, within both safe and uncertain positions, they are ranked higher in the list. JEL codes: D72, D78, P16. Keywords: political selection, electoral rule, closed party lists.

Suggested Citation

  • Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2014. "So Closed: Political Selection in Proportional Systems," Working Papers 526, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:526
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Stefano Gagliarducci & Tommaso Nannicini & Paolo Naticchioni, 2011. "Electoral Rules and Politicians' Behavior: A Micro Test," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 144-174, August.
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    5. Baltrunaite, Audinga & Bello, Piera & Casarico, Alessandra & Profeta, Paola, 2014. "Gender quotas and the quality of politicians," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 62-74.
    6. Galasso, Vincenzo & Nannicini, Tommaso, 2011. "Competing on Good Politicians," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 105(1), pages 79-99, February.
    7. 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.
    8. Esteve-Volart, Berta & Bagues, Manuel, 2012. "Are women pawns in the political game? Evidence from elections to the Spanish Senate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 387-399.
    9. Janice Bell, 2001. "The Political Economy of Reform in Post-Communist Poland," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1810, April.
    10. Levine, David K. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2007. "The Paradox of Voter Participation? A Laboratory Study," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 101(1), pages 143-158, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke, 2017. "Gibt es Schelte für Bundestagsabgeordnete, die nicht mit ihrer eigenen Partei stimmen?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 70(12), pages 26-29, June.
    2. Mauro Caselli & Paolo Falco, 2019. "Your vote is (no) secret! How low voter density harms voter anonymity and biases elections in Italy," DEM Working Papers 2019/8, Department of Economics and Management.
    3. Saarimaa, Tuukka & Tukiainen, Janne, 2016. "Local representation and strategic voting: Evidence from electoral boundary reforms," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 31-45.
    4. Paola Profeta & Eleanor Woodhouse, 2018. "Do Electoral Rules Matter for Female Representation?," Working Papers 121, "Carlo F. Dondena" Centre for Research on Social Dynamics (DONDENA), Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi.
    5. Gavoille, Nicolas, 2018. "Who are the ‘ghost’ MPs? Evidence from the French parliament," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 53(C), pages 134-148.
    6. Vincenzo Galasso & Tommaso Nannicini, 2017. "Political selection under alternative electoral rules," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(3), pages 257-281, June.
    7. Björn Kauder & Niklas Potrafke & Marina Riem, 2017. "Do Parties Punish MPs for Voting Against the Party Line?," CESifo Economic Studies, CESifo, vol. 63(3), pages 317-332.
    8. Schnellenbach, Jan & Schubert, Christian, 2015. "Behavioral political economy: A survey," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 40(PB), pages 395-417.
    9. Jaakko Meriläinen & Janne Tukiainen, 2018. "Rank effects in political promotions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 177(1), pages 87-109, October.
    10. Paula González & Francesca Passarelli & M. Socorro Puy, 2019. "Discipline, party switching and policy divergence," Working Papers 19.05, Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Department of Economics.
    11. Gomberg, Andrei & Gutiérrez, Emilio & López, Paulina & Vázquez, Alejandra, 2019. "Coattails and the forces that drive them: Evidence from Mexico," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 64-81.
    12. Paola Profeta & Eleanor Woodhouse, 2018. "Do Electoral Rules Matter for Female Representation?," CESifo Working Paper Series 7101, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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