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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. Rubinstein, Ariel, 1982. "Perfect Equilibrium in a Bargaining Model," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(1), pages 97-109, January.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. E. Auriol & R. Gary-Bobo, 2000. "On the Optimal Number of Representatives," THEMA Working Papers 2000-01, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Morelli, Massimo, 1998. "Party Formation and Policy Outcomes Under Different Electoral Systems," Staff General Research Papers 1242, Iowa State University, Department of Economics.
  9. Antonio Merlo & Daniel Diermeier & Hülya Eraslan, 2004. "Bicameralism and Government Formation," Working Papers 2004.81, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay & Mandar Oak, 2006. "Coalition Governments in a Model of Parliamentary Democracy," Working Papers 2006.83, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
  13. 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.
  14. Tasos Kalandrakis, 2004. "Proposal Rights and Political Power," Wallis Working Papers WP38, University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy.
  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.
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