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Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms

Janne Tukiainen () and Tuukka Saarimaa ()

No 64, Working Papers from VATT Institute for Economic Research

Abstract: We analyze whether voters value local political representation by exploiting municipal mergers, which increase the number of candidates available to voters and intensify political competition. In the Finnish open-list proportional representation system, voters rank the candidates within parties, and thus, concentrating votes to local candidates increases the extent of local representation. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that the vote distributions become more concentrated in municipalities less likely to gain local representation after the mergers. Moreover, the effect is much larger in municipalities where the benefits of local representation to voters are large. The latter result disentangles voters' responses from the responses of other political actors. The results are important also for designing local government mergers, which are an important policy tool in many countries. They highlight that concerns over deteriorating local democracy due to mergers have merit, because voters have preferences for local representation. At the same time, the vote concentration patterns we find alleviate these concerns.

Keywords: Electoral boundary reform, difference-in-differences, local representation, municipality mergers, strategic voting., Local public economics, Kunnallistalous, Effectiveness of public services, Julkisten palvelujen vaikuttavuus, C210 - Econometric Methods: Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Cross-Sectional Models; Spatial Models; Treatment Effect Models, C230 - Econometric Methods: Single Equation Models; Single Variables: Models with Panel Data, D720 - Economic Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior, H730 - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations: Interjurisdictional Differentials and Their Effects, H770 - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism, (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-pbe and nep-pol
Date: 2015
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Journal Article: Local representation and strategic voting: Evidence from electoral boundary reforms (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: Local representation and strategic voting: evidence from electoral boundary reforms (2013) Downloads
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