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Coevolution of Capitalism and Political Representation: The Choice of Electoral Systems

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 May 2010

THOMAS CUSACK
Affiliation:
Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin
TORBEN IVERSEN
Affiliation:
Harvard University
DAVID SOSKICE
Affiliation:
Duke University and Oxford University
Corresponding

Abstract

Protocorporatist West European countries in which economic interests were collectively organized adopted PR in the first quarter of the twentieth century, whereas liberal countries in which economic interests were not collectively organized did not. Political parties, as Marcus Kreuzer points out, choose electoral systems. So how do economic interests translate into party political incentives to adopt electoral reform? We argue that parties in protocorporatist countries were “representative” of and closely linked to economic interests. As electoral competition in single member districts increased sharply up to World War I, great difficulties resulted for the representative parties whose leaders were seen as interest committed. They could not credibly compete for votes outside their interest without leadership changes or reductions in interest influence. Proportional representation offered an obvious solution, allowing parties to target their own voters and their organized interest to continue effective influence in the legislature. In each respect, the opposite was true of liberal countries. Data on party preferences strongly confirm this model. (Kreuzer's historical criticisms are largely incorrect, as shown in detail in the online supplementary Appendix.)

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Copyright © American Political Science Association 2010

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Cusack et al. supplementary material

Appendix

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