DOES PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION FOSTER CLOSER CONGRUENCE BETWEEN CITIZENS AND POLICY MAKERS?

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1 DOES PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION FOSTER CLOSER CONGRUENCE BETWEEN CITIZENS AND POLICY MAKERS? Andrè Blais, Marc Andrè Bodet 1 Tomè Clarissa May, 22 nd 2013

2 INTRODUCTION PR system ensures close correspondence between citizens whishes and what policy makers decide. Is this statement true? Purpose of the article: assess the validity of the claim that proportional systems foster a more responsive government. 2

3 The number of parties in the legislature increases with the proportionality of the electoral system and with the size of the district magnitude. More possibility to find representatives whose views are congruent to those of the voters. But what about government overall positions? Government s objective: minimize the distance between policy makers and voters. Cox: this objective is more easily achieved choosing the median voter s position. Does PR induce governments to locate themselves closer to median voter positition? 3

4 DISTINCTION BETWEEN NON-PR(STRONG) AND PR (WEAK/PERMISSIVE) SYSTEMS Strong system Low poportionality; If two parties: median voter: If more than two parties: candidates try to distinguish themselves ideologically from each other extermist parties; But if voters act strategically, centrist candidates will win over extremist ones (Cox). Weak system High proportionality, many parties; Less centrist parties; But centripetal process in coalition formation positional advantage of centrist parties; Incentive not to move from median voter s position, 4

5 The congruence between the median voter s position and that of the government is achieved both in strong and permissive systems but through different routes. In both systems we have pressures to minimize the distance between voters wishes and and public policy but no guarantee of congruence. Centrist pressures are weaker when the issue is multidimensional. PR systems have two contraductory consequences: 1. More parties greater choice for voters parties are more extreme weaker congruence; 2. Centrist parties more likely to form a government PR good for congruence but excludes extremist parties. 5

6 BLAIS AND BODET MODEL Use Comparative Study for Electoral Systems (CSES) dataset: information about the positions of voters and governing parties. Compare respondents self-placements on a Left-Right scale with placements of cabinet parties location. Voters median placements: indicator of parties true ideological positions on the Left-Right scale. Voters perceptions of party position are affected by parties true positions and individual idiosyncratic factors (projection effects). Focus on parliamentary systems homogenoeus sample: 6 formation of cabinet is the direct product of elections.

7 21 countries and 31 election studies. 48,675 respondents be asked to place themselves on a 0 to 10 Left-Right scale and place up six major parties on the same scale. 4 types of electoral systens: plurality, majority, PR and mixed. Independent variable: degree of disproportionality in the electoral system. Gallagher s index of disproportionality: 5 hypothesis. 7

8 HYPOTHESIS 1: PR PRODUCES LESS CENTRIST PARTIES AND THUS GREATER DIVERSITY Mean party distance from the median voter Table 1: median voter at the point 5 (except for Germany and Israel) First dependent variable: centrifugal strenght of the party system measure the location of each party Mean party distance from the median voter (Γ): v : median voter position for country j; ρ: median placement of party p. 8

9 Diversity Indicator of diversity: dispersion of parties positions relative to voters dispersion ρ: party position on the scale, κ: pth party s share of the vote, τ : weighted mean of parties on the scale σ : standard deviation of voters position Typical situation: score around 0.8 9

10 10

11 11

12 Old democracy: dummy variable for countries that have been democratic for at least 20 years at the moment of election. Old democracies have a more stable partisan structure less diverse party system better congruence. More proportional systems: greater range of ideological options, less centrist parties. Older democracies: less centripetal party system less political choice (than non old democracies). 12

13 HYPOTHESIS 2: PR INCREASES THE NUMBER OF PARTIES IN GOVERNMENT PR facilitates the entrance and survival of many parties. PR leads to the formation of coalition governments more frequently than majoritarian systems. 13

14 HYPOTHESIS 3: THE GREATER THE DIVERSITY IN THE PARTY SYSTEM, THE LARGER THE DISTANCE (THE WEAKER THE CONGRUENCE) BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND VOTERS In order to measure the cabinet distance from voters (congruence) we need a measure for cabinet position. Cabinet position (ψ): sum of governemnt parties positions weighted by their share of cabinet seats in government. ω: the relative weight in terms of cabinet seat share by party p ρ: the median location of party p. Ex: Denmark (1998): 16 Social democrats (median placement:4); 4 Socialists (median placement:2) Weighted position of Danish government: (16/20)*4 + (4/20)*2 =3.6 14

15 Cabinet distance from voters (Φ): average absolute distance between each respondent s position and the cabinet position: θ : voter s position, n: number of votes, ψ: the cabinet s position Average distance between voters and governments should be higher when the party system is diverse (positive and statistically significant relation). 15

16 HYPOTHESIS 4: THE MORE PARTIES IN GOVERNMENT, THE SMALLER THE DISTANCE (THE STRONGER THE CONGRUENCE) BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND VOTERS Average distance between voters and governments should be lower when there are more parties in government. 16

17 HYPOTHESIS 5: PR HAS NO NET EFFECT ON THE DISTANCE (CONGRUENCE) BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT AND VOTERS Proportionality has no net effect on the distance between voters and the government. PR doesn t produce more representative governments when representativeness is defined as the minimization of the distance between the ideological locations of voters and the ideological location of cabinet. 17

18 CONLUSION PR contributer to a greater range of choice for voters (voters con choose among more parties). But PR doesn t bring about a better representation for citizens. Better rapresentation entails that the government converges to the median voter position goal achieved in different ways no electoral system is clearly superior on that front. Push toward the center in both system. 18

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