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Heterogeneity, electoral rules and the number of candidates: an empirical investigation using a quasi-natural experiment


  • Carlos Eduardo S. Gonçalves


  • Mauro Rodrigues Jr., Ricardo A. Madeira


There is an open debate in social sciences concerning the impact of different electoral rules and societal heterogeneity on the number of candidates vying for a seat during election times. Using data from Brazil’s municipal mayoral elections, this paper assesses the empirical validity of the so-called nuanced view, which claims the interaction between societal heterogeneity and institutional permissiveness of electoral rules (presence of a runoff, in our case) is key to explain the number of candidates. Our study differs from others in the literature in two major aspects: (i) we have a truly exogenous source of variation in electoral rules due to a change in legislation introduced by the constitutional reform of 1988 and, (ii) we use panel-data techniques that allow for a more reliable identification of the parameters. Our results provide support for the nuanced-view: the coefficient of the interaction between heterogeneity and the presence of a runoff is always positive and statistically significant.

Suggested Citation

  • Carlos Eduardo S. Gonçalves & Mauro Rodrigues Jr., Ricardo A. Madeira, 2012. "Heterogeneity, electoral rules and the number of candidates: an empirical investigation using a quasi-natural experiment," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2012_25, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
  • Handle: RePEc:spa:wpaper:2012wpecon25

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Laurent Bouton, 2013. "A Theory of Strategic Voting in Runoff Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 103(4), pages 1248-1288, June.
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    runoff; heterogeneity; number of candidates;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • E - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact

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