Skip to main content
×
×
Home

The Primary Effect: Preference Votes and Political Promotions

  • OLLE FOLKE (a1), TORSTEN PERSSON (a2) and JOHANNA RICKNE (a3)
Abstract

In this analysis of how electoral rules and outcomes shape the internal organization of political parties, we make an analogy to primary elections to argue that parties use preference-vote tallies to identify popular politicians and promote them to positions of power. We document this behavior among parties in Sweden's semi-open-list system and in Brazil's open-list system. To identify a causal impact of preference votes, we exploit a regression discontinuity design around the threshold of winning the most preference votes on a party list. In our main case, Sweden, these narrow “primary winners” are at least 50% more likely to become local party leaders than their runners-up. Across individual politicians, the primary effect is present only for politicians who hold the first few positions on the list and when the preference-vote winner and runner-up have similar competence levels. Across party groups, the primary effect is the strongest in unthreatened governing parties.

Copyright
Corresponding author
Olle Folke is a researcher at Uppsala University and at the Research Institute for Industrial Economics in Stockholm (olle.folke@statsvet.uu.se).
Torsten Persson is a professor at the Institute for International Economic Studies, Stockholm University, and a program director at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (torsten.perssson@iies.su.se).
Johanna Rickne is a researcher at the Research Institute for Industrial Economics in Stockholm (johanna.rickne@ifn.se).
Footnotes
Hide All

We thank Thomas Fujiwara for kindly sharing data on Brazilian municipal elections. For their helpful comments, we thank Daron Acemoglu, Ernesto Calvo, Jens Olav Dahlgaard, Torun Dewan, Mikael Gilljan, Miriam Golden, Shigeo Hirano, Simon Hix, Ulrik Kjaer, Eric Magar, Jenny Madestam, Monica Martinez-Bravo, Jim Snyder, Pär Nyman, Henric Oscarsson, Daniel Markham Smith, Pablo Querubin, Ken Shotts, and David Strömberg; participants in the following workshops: Empirical Political Economics and Political Science Workshop (WATT), Midwest Political Science Association 2013, European Political Science Association 2014, and the NYU-LSE Political Economy Conference 2015; and seminar participants at: Lund University, Uppsala University, Columbia University, Cal Tech, University of California at Berkeley, Gothenburg University, Universidad Pompeu Fabra, Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, London School of Economics, Institute for International Economic Studies, Linnaeus University, and the Swedish Parliament. We are also grateful to the three anonymous reviewers and the APSR editorial team for their thorough and constructive comments on the manuscript. Financial support from the Swedish Research Council and the Torsten and Ragnar Söderberg Foundations is gratefully acknowledged.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Alesina, Alberto, Roubini, Nouriel, and Cohen, Gerard. 1997. Political Cycles and the Macroeconomy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Anagol, Santosh, and Fujiwara, Thomas. 2014. “The Runner-Up Effect.” Princeton University. Mimeo.
Andeweg, Rudy. 2005. “The Netherlands: The Sanctity of Proportionality.” In The Politics of Electoral Systems, eds. Gallagher, Michael and Mitchell, Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 491510.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, Hirano, Shigeo, and Snyder, James. 2007. “What Did the Direct Primaries Do to Party Loyalty in Congress, Party and Policy Making?” In Further New Perspectives on the History of Congress, eds. Brady, David and McCubbins, Matthew. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2136.
Barro, Robert. 1973. “The Control of Politicians: An Economic Model.” Public Choice 14: 1942.
Besley, Timothy, Folke, Olle, Persson, Torsten, and Rickne, Johanna. 2014. “Gender Quotas and the Crisis of the Mediocre Man: Theory and Evidence from Sweden.” Columbia University. Mimeo.
Bille, Lars. 2001. “Democratizing a Democratic Procedure: Myth or Reality? Candidate Selection in Western European Parties, 1960–1990.” Party Politics 7: 363–80.
Bittner, Amanda. 2011. Platform or Personality? The Role of Party Leaders in Elections. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Black, Sandra, and Strahan, Philip. 2001. “The Division of Spoils: Rent Sharing and Discrimination in a Regulated Industry.” American Economic Review 91: 814–31.
Blumenau, Jack, Eggers, Andrew, Hangartner, Dominik, and Hix, Simon. 2014. “Open/Closed List and Party Choice: Experimental Evidence from the UK.” London School of Economics. Mimeo.
Bräuninger, Thomas, Brunner, Martin, and Däubler, Thomas. 2012. “Personal Vote-Seeking in Flexible List Systems: How Electoral Incentives Shape Belgian MPs' Bill Initiation Behaviour.” European Journal of Political Research 51: 607–45.
Brommesson, Henrik. 2006. Editorial: “Consequences of the Preferential Voting Result” (Att dra konsekvenser av personvalet). Kristinehamnsbladet, www.kristianstadsbladet.se/opinion/article1094536/Att-dra-konsekvenser-av-personvalet.html (accessed April 24 2014).
Carey, John M., and Polga-Hecimovich, John. 2006. “Primary Elections and Candidate Strength in Latin America.” Journal of Politics 68: 530–43.
Caughey, Devin, and Sekhon, Jasjeet. 2012. “Elections and the Regression Discontinuity Design: Lessons from Close U.S. House Races, 1942–2008.” Political Analysis 19:385408.
Chang, Eric, and Golden, Miriam. 2007. “Electoral Systems, District Magnitude and Corruption.” Journal of Political Science 37: 115–37.
Crisp, Brian, F., Olivella, Santiago, Malecki, Michael, and Sher, Mindy. 2013. “Vote-Earning Strategies in Flexible List Systems: Seats at the Price of Unity.” Electoral Studies 32: 658–69.
Cox, Gary W. 1987. “Electoral Equilibrium under Alternative Voting Institutions.” American Journal of Political Science 88: 82108.
Davidsson, Lars. 2006. l linje med partiet? – Maktspel och lojalitet i den svenska riksdagen. Stockholm: SNS förlag.
De Paola, Maria, and Scoppa, Vincenzo. 2011. “Political Competition and Politician Quality: Evidence from Italian Municipalities.” Public Choice 148: 547–59.
De Winter, Lieven. 2005. “Belgium: Empowering Voters or Party Elites?” In The Politics of Electoral Systems, eds. Gallagher, Michael and Mitchell, Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 417–32.
Dowding, Keith, and Dumont, Patrick. 2009. “Structural and Strategic Factors Affecting the Hiring and Firing of Ministers.” In The Selection of Ministers in Europe: Hiring and Firing, eds. Dowding, Keith and Dumont, Patrick. London: Routledge, 120.
Farrell, David 2001. Electoral Systems: A Comparative Introduction. Basingstoke: Palgrave.
Ferejohn, John 1986. “Incumbent Performance and Electoral Control.” Public Choice 50: 525.
Galasso, Vincenso, and Nannicini, Tommaso. 2011. “Competing on Good Politicians.” American Political Science Review 105 (1): 7999.
Galderisi, Peter F., and Ezra, Marni. 2001. “Congressional Primaries in Historical and Theoretical Context.” In Congressional Primaries and the Politics of Representation, eds. Galderisi, Peter F., Ezra, Marni, and Lyons, Michael. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1128.
Gallagher, Michael, and Marsh, Michael. 1988. Candidate Selection in Comparative Perspective: The Secret Garden of Politics. London: Sage.
Golden, Miriam A. 2003. “Electoral Connections: The Effects of the Personal Vote on Political Patronage, Bureaucracy and Legislation in Postwar Italy.” British Journal of Political Science 33: 189212.
Harmel, Robert, Heo, Uk, Tan, Alexander, and Janda, Kenneth. 1995. “Performance, Leadership, Factions and Party Change: An Empirical Analysis.” West European Politics 18: 133.
Hirano, Shigeo, and Snyder, James M. 2013. “Primary Elections and the Quality of Elected Officials.” Harvard University. Mimeo.
Hix, Simon. 2004. “Electoral Institutions and Legislative Behavior: Explaining Voting Defection in the European Parliament.” World Politics 56: 194223.
Hortala-Vallve, Rafael, and Mueller, Hannes. 2012. “Primaries the Unifying Force.” London School of Economics. Mimeo.
Hunter, Wendy. 2010. The Transformation of the Workers' Party in Brazil, 1989–2009. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Imbens, Guido, and Kalyanaraman, Karthik. 2012. “Optimal Bandwidth Choice for the Regression Discontinuity Estimator.” Review of Economic Studies 79: 933–59.
Imbens, Guido, and Lemieux, Thomas. 2008. “Regression Discontinuity Designs: A Guide to Practice.” Journal of Econometrics 142: 615–35.
Katz, Richard S. 1980. A Theory of Parties and Electoral Systems. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Kemahlioglu, Ozge, Weitz-Shapiro, Rebecca, and Hirano, Shigeo. 2009. “Why Primaries in Latin American Presidential Elections?Journal of Politics 71: 339–52.
Key, V.O. 1949. Southern Politics in State and Nation. New York: A. A. Knopf.
Laver, Michael, and Schofield, Norman. 1990. Multiparty Government: The Politics of Coalition in Europe. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lee, David, Moretti, Enrico, and Butler, Matthew. 2004. “Do Voters Affect or Elect Policies? Evidence from the U.S. House.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 119: 807–59.
McCrary, Justin. 2008. “Manipulation of the Running Variable in the Regression Discontinuity Design: A Density Test.” Journal of Econometrics 142: 698714.
Meirowitz, Adam, and Shotts, Kenneth. 2009. “Pivots versus Signals in Elections.” Journal of Economic Theory 144: 744–71.
Meriläinen, Jaakko, and Tukiainen, Janne. 2015. “Who Become Political Leaders? ” International Institute of Economic Studies. Mimeo.
Montabes, Pereira, and Ortega, Carmen. 2002. “Position Effects and Party Nomination Strategies under the Limited Vote: The 2000 Spanish Senate Elections.” Representation 38: 304–16.
Mueller, Walter. 2005. “Austria: A Complex Electoral System with Subtle Effects.” In The Politics of Electoral Systems, eds. Gallagher, Michael and Mitchell, Paul. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 397416.
Persson, Torsten, and Tabellini, Guido. 2000. Political Economics: Explaining Economics Policy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Pettersson-Lidbom, Per. 2008. “Do Parties Matter for Economic Outcomes? A Regression-Discontinuity Approach.” Journal of the European Economic Association 6: 1037–56.
Piketty, Thomas. 2000. “Voting as Communicating.” Review of Economic Studies 67: 169–91.
Poguntke, Thomas, and Paul, D. Webb. 2005. The Presidentialization of Politics: A Comparative Study of Modern Democracies. New York: Oxford University Press.
Razin, Ronny. 2003. “Signaling and Election Motivations in a Voting Model with Common Values and Responsive Candidates.” Econometrica 71: 10831119.
Serra, Giles. 2006. “Primary Elections or Smoke-Filled Rooms: A Theory of Party Democratization in Latin America.” Ph.D. diss. Harvard University.
Shugart, Mathew S. 2013. “Why Ballot Structures Matter.” Perspectives on Politics 11 (3): 818–20.
Shugart, Matthew. S., Ellis Valdini, Melody, and Suominen, Kati. 2005. “Looking for Locals: Voter Information, Demands, and Personal Vote Earning Attributes of Legislators under Proportional Representation.” American Journal of Political Science 49 (2): 437–49.
Stewart, Marianne C., and Clarke, Harold D.. 1992. “The (Un) Importance of Party Leaders: Leader Images and Party Choice in the 1987 British Election.” Journal of Politics 54: 447–70.
Stigler, George. J. 1972. “Economic Competition and Political Competition.Public Choice 13: 91106.
Svaleryd, Helena, and Vlachos, Jonas. 2009. “Political Rents in a Non-Corrupt Democracy.” Journal of Public Economics 93: 355–72.
Statens Offentliga Utredningar (Government Public Inquiries). 1999:92. Premiär för personval (Premier for Preference Voting), Swedish Parliament, Stockholm.
Statens Offentliga Utredningar (Government Public Inquiries). 2007:68. Ett decennium med personval (Lessons from a Decade of Preference Voting), Swedish Parliament, Stockholm.
Tavits, M. 2010. “The Makings of Mavericks, Local Loyalists, and Party Defection.” Comparative Political Studies 42: 793815.
Ware, Alan. 2002. The American Direct Primary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wildgen, John K. 1985. “Preference Voting and Intraparty Competition in Italy: Some New Evidence on the Communist-Christian Democrat Stalemate.” Journal of Politics 47: 947–57.
Wittman, Donald. 1989. “Why Democracies Produce Efficient Results.” Journal of Political Economy 97: 13951424.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
PDF
Supplementary materials

Folke supplementary material
Online Appendix

 PDF (452 KB)
452 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 43
Total number of PDF views: 658 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1379 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 21st July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.