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Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences

  • Piolatto, Amedeo

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.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 12610.

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Date of creation: 04 Sep 2008
Date of revision: 08 Jan 2009
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:12610
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  1. Emmanuelle Auriol & Robert J. Gary-Bobo, 1998. "On the Optimal Number of Representatives," Discussion Papers 1286, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  2. Diermeier, Daniel & Van Roozendaal, Peter, 1998. "The Duration of Cabinet Formation Processes in Western Multi-Party Democracies," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 28(04), pages 609-626, October.
  3. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2006. "Coalition Governments in a Model of Parliamentary Democracy," Working Papers 2006.83, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  4. Antonio Merlo & Daniel Diermeier & Hülya Eraslan, 2004. "Bicameralism and Government Formation," Working Papers 2004.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  5. Tasos Kalandrakis, 2004. "Proposal Rights and Political Power," Wallis Working Papers WP38, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  6. Morelli, Massimo, 1998. "Party Formation and Policy Outcomes Under Different Electoral Systems," Staff General Research Papers Archive 1242, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  7. Ariel Rubinstein, 2010. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Levine's Working Paper Archive 252, David K. Levine.
  8. Daniel Diermeier & Antoni Merlo, 1999. "An Empirical Investigation of Coalitional Bargaining Procedures," Discussion Papers 1267, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Daniel Diermeier & Hulya Eraslan & Antonio Merlo, 2002. "Bicameralism and Government Formation, Second Version," PIER Working Paper Archive 07-010, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania, revised 01 Feb 2007.
  10. Norman Schofield, 1986. "Existence of a ‘structurally stable’ equilibrium for a non-collegial voting rule," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 51(3), pages 267-284, January.
  11. 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.
  12. Amer, Rafael & Carreras, Francese & Gimenez, Jose Miguel, 2002. "The modified Banzhaf value for games with coalition structure: an axiomatic characterization," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 45-54, January.
  13. Austen-Smith, David & Banks, Jeffrey., 1987. "Elections, Coalitions, and Legislative Outcomes," Working Papers 643, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  14. David P. Baron & Daniel Diermeier, 2001. "Elections, Governments, and Parliaments in Proportional Representation Systems," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(3), pages 933-967.
  15. Banks, Jeffrey S. & Duggan, John, 1999. "A Bargaining Model of Collective Choice," Working Papers 1053, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  16. Harald Wiese, 2007. "Measuring The Power Of Parties Within Government Coalitions," International Game Theory Review (IGTR), World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd., vol. 9(02), pages 307-322.
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