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Citizens’ Freedom to Choose Representatives: Ballot Structure, Proportionality and “Fragmented” Parliaments


  • Paulo Trigo Pereira
  • João Andrade e Silva


The analysis of the political consequences of electoral laws has emphasized how individual characteristics of the electoral system (electoral formulas, district magnitude, ballot structure) affect the degree of parliament “fragmentation” and proportionality. This paper argues that the personal attributes of representatives are also an important consequence of electoral laws, and that they are in part determined by citizens’ freedom to choose representatives. We clarify this concept and develop an index of citizens’ freedom to choose members of parliament as a function of the ballot structure, district size and electoral formulae. Using data from twenty nine countries, we find that neither proportionality nor the effective number of parties is significantly affected by voters’ freedom of choice. This result has important normative implications for electoral reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Paulo Trigo Pereira & João Andrade e Silva, 2007. "Citizens’ Freedom to Choose Representatives: Ballot Structure, Proportionality and “Fragmented” Parliaments," Working Papers Department of Economics 2007/13, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.
  • Handle: RePEc:ise:isegwp:wp132007

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carles Boix, 1999. "Setting the rules of the game: The choice of electoral systems in advanced democracies," Economics Working Papers 367, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra.
    2. Loosemore, John & Hanby, Victor J., 1971. "The Theoretical Limits of Maximum Distortion: Some Analytic Expressions for Electoral Systems," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(04), pages 467-477, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Paulo T. Pereira, & Lara Wemans,, 2012. "Portugal and the Global Financial Crisis – short-sighted politics, deteriorating public finances and the bailout imperative," Working Papers Department of Economics 2012/26, ISEG - Lisbon School of Economics and Management, Department of Economics, Universidade de Lisboa.

    More about this item


    Ballot structure; Electoral index; Freedom to choose; Personal vote.;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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