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How Do Electoral Rules Shape Party Structures, Government Coalitions, and Economic Policies?

  • Torsten Persson
  • Gerard Roland
  • Guido Tabellini

We present a theoretical model of a parliamentary democracy, where party structures, government coalitions and fiscal policies are endogenously determined. The model predicts that, relative to proportional elections, majoritarian elections reduce government spending because they reduce party fragmentation and, therefore, the incidence of coalition governments. Party fragmentation can persist under majoritarian rule if party supporters are unevenly distributed across electoral districts. Economic and political data, from up to 50 post-war parliamentary democracies, strongly support our joint predictions from the electoral rule, to the party system, to the type of government, and to government spending.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 10176.

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Date of creation: Dec 2003
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Publication status: published as Persson, Torsten, Gerard Roland, and Guido Tabellini. "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies." Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2, 2 (2007): 155-88.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10176
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  1. Rodrik, Dani, 1996. "Why do More Open Economies Have Bigger Governments?," CEPR Discussion Papers 1388, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Persson, Torsten & Tabellini, Guido, 1999. "Political economics and macroeconomic policy," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & M. Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 22, pages 1397-1482 Elsevier.
  3. David P. Baron & Daniel Diermeier, 2001. "Elections, Governments, And Parliaments In Proportional Representation Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 933-967, August.
  4. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini & Francesco Trebbi, 2003. "Electoral Rules and Corruption," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(4), pages 958-989, 06.
  5. Stephen Coate & Timothy Besley, 2000. "Elected versus Appointed Regulators: Theory and Evidence," NBER Working Papers 7579, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Torsten Persson & Gerard Roland & Guido Tabellini, . "Comparative Politics and Public Finance," Working Papers 114, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  7. Daniel Diermeier & Antonio Merlo, 1998. "Government Turnover in Parliamentary Democracies," Discussion Papers 1232, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  8. Diermeier, Daniel & Eraslan, H�lya & Merlo, Antonio, 2007. "Bicameralism and Government Formation," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 2(3), pages 227-252, August.
  9. Arellano, Manuel & Bond, Stephen, 1991. "Some Tests of Specification for Panel Data: Monte Carlo Evidence and an Application to Employment Equations," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(2), pages 277-97, April.
  10. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2003. "A Structural Model of Government Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 27-70, January.
  11. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2004. "Constitutional Rules and Fiscal Policy Outcomes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 25-45, March.
  12. Torsten Persson & Guido Tabellini, 2005. "The Economic Effects of Constitutions," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262661926, June.
  13. David Austen-Smith, 2000. "Redistributing Income under Proportional Representation," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(6), pages 1235-1269, December.
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