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Election Laws and Representative Governments: Beyond Votes and Seats

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2006

G. BINGHAM POWELL
Affiliation:
Department of Political Science, University of Rochester.

Abstract

A sophisticated research tradition has explored theoretically and empirically the consequences of election laws for vote–seat disproportionality and, more recently, for the distance between citizen and legislative left–right medians. In contemporary parliamentary systems, policy making tends to be dominated by governments, not legislatures. This article extends election law theory to its expected effects on the left–right representativeness of governing parties and examines whether these are realized after eighty-two elections in fifteen mature parliamentary systems. The analysis shows how the legislative median party, the legislative plurality party and pre-election coalition agreements between parties shape these connections between citizens, legislatures and governments. The article also develops more nuanced measures of party influence on policy making and re-examines the governmental findings using these. Governments and policy-making configurations emerging from bargaining after PR elections are in net significantly closer to their citizens than those created by SMD elections.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
2006 Cambridge University Press

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