Do more flexible lists increase the take-up of preference voting?

Däubler, Thomas

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URN: urn:nbn:de:bsz:180-madoc-586569
Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2020
The title of a journal, publication series: Electoral Studies
Volume: 68
Issue number: Article 102232
Page range: 1-10
Place of publication: Amsterdam [u.a.]
Publishing house: Elsevier Science
ISSN: 0261-3794 , 1873-6890
Publication language: English
Institution: Außerfakultäre Einrichtungen > Mannheim Centre for European Social Research - Research Department B
Pre-existing license: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Subject: 320 Political science
Abstract: In many preferential-list proportional representation systems, voting for a candidate is voluntary. Previous studies suggest a positive relationship between the impact of preference votes on seat allocation and how often they are used. However, existing work uses indirect measures on the right-hand side or suffers from the reverse causality problem. Focusing on electoral reform, this study argues that a change in rules affects the extent of personal voting if it alters the beliefs about which types of seat allocation are possible. These types are captured using a new trichotomous measure of list flexibility. The anticipated changes to seat allocation induced by a reform in Sweden allow us to carry out an over-time analysis with appropriate counterfactuals. The results show that moderate increases in list flexibility lead to more preference voting, whereas strong increases cause a drop. Additional analyses suggest that the unexpected decrease results from local parties adjusting their candidate selection strategies.

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