Rules, Choice and Strategy

Rules, Choice and Strategy

The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform

The Locke Institute series

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

This topical book analyses the change of electoral rules in Italy from proportional representation toward plurality. While Italy is used as the illustrative case, the analysis has far-ranging theoretical and practical implications, and will therefore be of interest to academics and researchers of political economy, constitutionalism and public choice.

Chapter 6: Information, Proportionality and Power Dilution in Provisional Elections

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice

Extract

6. Information, proportionality and power dilution in provincial elections In this chapter we are interested in examining the effects of two variables on the dilution of power enjoyed by elected representatives:1 the information level engendered amongst the eligible voters and the effectiveness of the electoral process in translating votes into seats (degree of proportionality). These effects are examined through a comparative study analysing the voting behaviour in Sicilian provincial elections, where the electoral system has recently been altered to reduce PR by incorporating elements of PL. It is well established that an increase in the amount of information distributed amongst the electorate is a desirable aim (Downs, 1957). In the public choice literature the role that information plays in electoral competition has been mainly developed in two directions. On one side, studies have focused on the effects of different information levels on voter turnout (Frey, 1971, 1972; Tollison, Crain and Paulter, 1975). The main concept underlying this branch of the literature is that information is not a free good because resources must be used to collect and absorb it. Additionally, there is a large literature examining the determinants of so-called ‘ideological voting’, based on extensive analysis of pre- and post-survey data or of experimental data (Achen, 1975; Erikson, 1979; Palfrey and Poole, 1987; Harrington, 1992; Husted, Kenny and Morton, 1995). The hypothetical condition of perfect proportionality, in which the percentage of seats is distributed to each party exactly according to the proportion of total...

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