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Electoral systems and the distortion of voters' preferences

Amedeo Piolatto ()

MPRA Paper from University Library of Munich, Germany

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.

Keywords: Electoral systems; Proportional rule; Plurality rule; Voters' representation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: H1 C71 D72 P16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-gth and nep-pol
Date: 2008-09-04, Revised 2009-01-08
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https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/12610/1/MPRA_paper_12610.pdf original version (application/pdf)
https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/18601/1/MPRA_paper_18601.pdf revised version (application/pdf)

Related works:
Journal Article: Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: Which is most representative of voters? (2011) Downloads
Working Paper: Plurality versus proportional electoral rule: study of voters' representativeness (2009) Downloads
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