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Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences

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  • Piolatto, Amedeo

Abstract

In this paper I show that in a parliamentary democracy, contrary to common wisdom, under a proportional electoral rule governments do not necessarily represent voters' preferences better than under plurality rule. While voters affect the composition of Parliament, decisions are taken by a subset of Parliamentarians: a coalition of them decides directly and through the government. As a consequence, two distortions might occur: one at the electoral stage when Parliament is formed and the other at the coalition formation stage, when government is chosen. Through a model à la Rubinstein, I show that small parties' bargaining power increases when parties are patient; for sufficiently patient parties, the small (but pivotal) ones obtain a large bargaining power. The distortion introduced by plurality rule goes in the opposite direction; this can be beneficial (in term of voters' representativeness) as long as the impact of the two distortions is similar. I show that under non restrictive conditions, plurality rule can outperform the proportional rule in terms of representativeness of voters' preferences.

Suggested Citation

  • Piolatto, Amedeo, 2008. "Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences," MPRA Paper 12610, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 08 Jan 2009.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12610
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Diermeier, Daniel & Merlo, Antonio, 2004. "An empirical investigation of coalitional bargaining procedures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(3-4), pages 783-797, March.
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    8. Massimo Morelli, 2004. "Party Formation and Policy Outcomes under Different Electoral Systems," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 71(3), pages 829-853.
    9. James M. Snyder Jr. & Michael M. Ting & Stephen Ansolabehere, 2005. "Legislative Bargaining under Weighted Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(4), pages 981-1004, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Sonia Oreffice & Climent Quintana, 2009. "Anthropometry and Socioeconomics in the Couple: Evidence from the PSID," Working Papers 2009-22, FEDEA.
    2. Felix Arnold, 2013. "German MPs' Outside Jobs and Their Repercussions on Parliamentary Effort," Discussion Papers of DIW Berlin 1340, DIW Berlin, German Institute for Economic Research.
    3. Stadelmann, David & Portmann, Marco & Eichenberger, Reiner, 2014. "The law of large districts: How district magnitude affects the quality of political representation," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 35(C), pages 128-140.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Electoral systems; Proportional rule; Plurality rule; Voters' representation;

    JEL classification:

    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • C71 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Cooperative Games
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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