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Runoff Elections in the Laboratory

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  • Laurent Bouton
  • Jorge Gallego
  • Aniol Llorente-Saguer
  • Rebecca Morton

Abstract

We study experimentally the properties of the majority runoff system and compare them to the ones of plurality rule, in the setup of a divided majority. Our focus is on Duverger's famous predictions that the plurality rule leads to a higher coordination of votes on a limited number of candidates than the majority runoff rule. Our experiments show that, in contradiction with Duverger's predictions, coordination forces are strong in majority runoff elections. We indeed observe similar levels of coordination under both rules, even when sincere voting is an equilibrium only under majority runoff. Our results suggest that the apparent desire to coordinate, and not vote sincerely, under the majority runoff rule is to some extent not rational. Finally, we find insignificant differences between runoff and plurality systems in terms of both electoral outcomes and welfare. This is so exactly because coordination forces are strong under both rules. But, this does not mean that the two rules are equally socially desirable. Majority runoff rule entails an additional cost: second rounds that take place frequently.

Suggested Citation

  • Laurent Bouton & Jorge Gallego & Aniol Llorente-Saguer & Rebecca Morton, 2019. "Runoff Elections in the Laboratory," NBER Working Papers 25949, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25949
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    Cited by:

    1. Tsakas, Nikolas & Xefteris, Dimitrios, 2021. "Stress-testing the runoff rule in the laboratory," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 18-38.
    2. Kevin Dano & Francesco Ferlenga & Vincenzo Galasso & Caroline Le Pennec & Vincent Pons, 2022. "Coordination and Incumbency Advantage in Multi-Party Systems - Evidence from French Elections," NBER Working Papers 30541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    JEL classification:

    • C92 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Group Behavior
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making

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