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Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform

  • Jon H. Fiva and Olle Folke

Abstract

To understand how electoral reform affects political outcomes, one needs to assess its total effect, incorporating how the reform affects the outcomes given the political status quo (the mechanical effects) and the additional reactions of political agents (the psychological effects). This article proposes a framework to ascertain the relative magnitude of mechanical and various psychological effects. The empirical approach is based on pairwise comparisons of actual and counterfactual seat allocation outcomes. It uses the design to analyze a nationwide municipal electoral reform in Norway, which changed the seat allocation method from D’Hondt to Modified Sainte-Laguë. The study documents clear psychological effects.

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Copyright

Footnotes

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BI Norwegian Business School (email: jon.h.fiva@bi.no); SIPA Columbia University and Research Institute of Industrial Economics (email: of2152@columbia.edu). We would like to thank the editors Kristian S. Gleditsch and René Lindstädt, and anonymous reviewers whose helpful comments and suggestions substantially improved the article. We are also grateful to Bernt Aardal, Jørgen Andersen, Larry Bartels, Johannes Bergh, Ronny Freier, Benny Geys, Yotam Margalit, Kalle Moene, Johanna Rickne, Dan Smith, Rune Sørensen, Kåre Vernby, participants at several university seminars and conferences for insightful comments, and Sunniva Eidsvoll and Elisabet Paulsen for excellent research assistance. This article is part of the research activities at the Center of Equality, Social Organization, and Performance (ESOP) at the Department of Economics at the University of Oslo. ESOP is supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme, project number 179552. Financial support for Folke from the Tom Hedelius and Jan Wallander Research Foundations is gratefully acknowledged. Data replication sets and online appendices are available at http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1017/S0007123414000209.

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References

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Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform

  • Jon H. Fiva and Olle Folke

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