Gary W. Cox. Making Votes Count. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Chapters 1-3, 4 (pp. 69-80), 8, 10, 12-15.
The book focuses on district, post-entry politics. The post-entry period allows Cox to observe an actual number of entering candidates reduce to a smaller effective number of vote-getting candidates. (In contrast, pre-entry politics involves observing an indefinitely large number of potential candidates reduce to a definite field of actual candidates.)
The independent variables examined in the nature of electoral coordination problems:
- Electoral institutions - these determine how votes translate into seats and the available opportunities for trading votes in order to win more seats
- Political motivations / political actors' preferences
- Public expectations / actors' expectations
Review of perspectives about electoral systems:
- Institutionalist perspective - party system deterimines the number of parties.
- Duverger: the simple-majority single-ballot system favors the two-party system; the simple-majority system with second and ballot proportional representation favors multipartyism.
- Sociological perspective - social and ideological cleavages explain party system and the number of parties; the greater the social fragmentation, the more probable is the adoption of a proportional electoral system and the rise of a multiparty system.
- Ordeshook and Shvetsova (1994) - the number of parties in a country increases with the diversity of the social structure and with the proportionality of the electoral structure and these effects interact.
- Leys and Sartori conjecture - There is a continuum of systems, ranging from those in which strategic voting imposes a constraining upper bound, to those in which it imposes a rarely-constraining or unconstraining upper bound, on the number of parties.
- Electoral system - set of laws and party rules that regulate electoral competition between and within parties.
- Electoral formula - method for translating candidate and/or list vote totals into an allocation of seats among cartels, lists, or candidates.
- Structure of an electoral system = subsystem within the electoral system
- District structure has to do with the number, magnitude/size, and nature of electoral districts. District magnitude is the number of representatives it is entitled to elect.
- Primary electoral district - district that cannot be partitioned into smaller districts within which votes are aggregated and seats allocated.
- Secondary electoral district (upper tier) - distrct that can be partitioned into two or more primary electoral districts.
- the presence of voters who are not short-term instrumentally rational
- lack of public information about voter preferences
- public belief that a particular candidate will win with certainty
- the presence of many voters who care intensely about their first choice and are nearly indifferent between their second and lower choices
When coordination succeeds, the most readily observable consequence is a reduction in the number of electoral players: the number of lists or candidates appearing on the ballot is decreased when elites agree to a merger of parties, or a joint list, or a fusion candidacy; the effecive number of lists or candidates is decrased when voters strategically concentrate their votes on the more viable lists and candidates. When electoral coordination fails, the maladroit find themselves underrepresented while the better-coordinated find their representation magnified.
Cox, Gary W. 1997. Making Votes Count: Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems. New York: Cambrdige University Press.
Summary by: Blake McMahon
Main Point: This book is about strategic coordination in elections. Successful coordination reduces the number of competitors, and the candidates and parties that survive this selection have an influence on policy outcomes.
Main Independent Variables
(1) Electoral Institutions- which “determine the availability of opportunities for trading votes in order to win more seats” (5).
(2) Political Motivations- “The preferences of the elite and mass actors who must coordinate” (5).
(3) Public Expectations- Strategic coordination is largely dependent upon the expectations the public has about the nature of the current political environment, including the candidates and parties that operate within it.
This book builds upon the Duvergerian model. This seminal model of strategic coordination has two major components concerning district-level political processes. First, Duverger's Law assers that "The simple majority single ballot (SMSB) system favors a two party system" (14). Plurality voting in single-member districts lead to a two party system because voters choose strategically for candidates that have the best chance of winning (30). Second, Duverger's Hypothesis asserts that "the simple majority system with second ballot an proportional representation favors multipartyism" (14).
There are a variety of criticisms of Duverger that are derived largely from the sociological school of thought. These scholars primarily take issue with the "Institutional Determinism" of Duverger, and argue that:
- Party systems determine electoral systems, rather than vice-versa.
- Party systems are determined by cleavages in society; electoral systems play little role.
In response to these sociological critiques, Cox finds that there are differences in the number of parties elected to upper and lower houses within the same state. These states have the same social cleavages, but different electoral rules governing selection to each house. Electoral institutions therefore matter. However, Cox does believe that social cleavages do matter as well. They are the first of three stages to consider when accounting for the level of voter seat concentration observable in any polity. These stages are (in order):
(1) Translation of social cleavages into partisan preferences
(2) Translation of partisan preferences into votes
(3) Translation of votes into seats
Chapter 3: On Electoral Systems
- Structure- uses the term to "denote a subsystem within the electoral system" (38).
- Electoral System- A set of laws and party rules that regulate electoral competition between and within parties.
- (see more definitions pages 40-43)
A main distinction in the structure of the electoral system is whether citizens vote in a single ballot or multiple ballot system.
Three main factors affect the vote in single ballot systems:
(1) For what entities does the voter vote? Cartels and/or parties and/or candidates?
(2) How many votes may each voter cast?
(3) What seat relevant vote totals are affected by the vote(s) cast? "Exclusive" votes only affect one seat-relevant vote total, while "non-exclusive" votes affect more than one.
In multiple ballot systems, victors are usually required to secure a majority of votes cast (see page 65-67 for detailed discussion).
Structure- District Structure depends on the magnitude and an number of electoral districts. Primary Districts cannot be divided into smaller districts into which votes are aggregated and seats are awarded. Secondary districts are composed of two or more primary districts. Seats are first allocated based on primary districts. Then, if any votes are left over, they are allocated within secondary districts. Tertiary districts often are typically national districts (like in Greece). Primary, secondary and tertiary districts are typically hierarchically ordered, though it is also possible to have geographically overlapping districts that are not hierarchically ordered. Systems with these secondary or tertiary districts are often said to be "multi-tier."
Electoral System- Simple Systems operate under only one electoral formula, while complex systems have several levels at which different electoral formulas operate. An Electoral Formula is "a method for translating candidate and/or list vote totals into an allocation of seats among cartels, lists or candidates" (59). The Alliance Structure refers to the relationship between these cartels, lists and candidates. Seats are typically awarded fi rst to cartels (if any), then to party lists (if any) and nally to candidates.
Proportional Representation systems exist in two major forms:
(1) Quotas and Largest Remainder Each party gets its quota of seats, and remaining seats are then allocated to the parties with the largest remainder.
(2) Divisor and Largest Averages Based on a calculation of ratios that reflect how much each party has paid in votes for its seats.
Chapter 4: Strategic Voting in Single Member Single Ballot Systems
This chapter deals with research into strategic voting as it relates to the behavior of voters in mass elections, and particularly in single member, single ballot (SMSB) systems. Cox finds that if one changes "any of several institutional factors that define ordinary plurality systems, the strategic voting incentives that push toward local bipartism dissipate substantially" (70). This finding is an important addendum to Duverger's model of strategic voting.
Previous Literature concerning models of strategic voting falls into one of two categories.
- Decision Theoretic- Voter does not necessarily vote for favorite candidate, but best candidate with best chance of winning.
- Game Theoretic- Emphasizes similar dynamic, but models how interactions among these players influences outcomes.
Duvergerian Equilibrium implies that voters in plurality systems eventually coalesce around supporting one of two candidates. Alternatively, non-Duvergerian Equilibria can result when multiple candidates are tied for second place, and are so close in strength that voters cannot clearly discount among these candidates, and n > 2 candidates results.
The model of strategic voting has several key components:
- Preferences- Every individual has preferences over candidates that can be expressed with a utility function.
- Beliefs- While knowledge of the preferences of other players is imperfect, each voter has beliefs about how frequently various types of voters crop up in the electorate.
- Expectations- Each voter has expectations about how well each candidate will do in the upcoming election.
- If voters' preferences over candidates are not strict, then the reduction of trailing candidates to zero is not necessary.
- All types of voters are represented in the electorate. "If one dispenses with this assumption, then it may be a particular candidate has such an advantage in terms of distribution of voter preferences that he will win with certainty."
- All voters are short-term instrumentally rational.
- The identity of front runners and trailing candidates is common knowledge.
The expectations of Duverger's theorem can be voided if any one of those four assumptions is violated.
Chapter 8: Strategic Voting, Party Labels, and Entry
Duverger's argument is based upon two additional criteria:
- It is clear from the start which candidates/list are doomed to be non-viable come election day, and are hence shunned by short-sighted instrumentally rational (151). If it is not clear which candidates will be strategically deserted, limits on the number of candidates arise are determined by the costs of entry and the benefits of office.
- Elites are also short-sighted, instrumentally rational actors. However, different types of long-term payoffs might motivate elites to remain in the fray.
Party endorsements (labels) can serve as both a way to convey the policy beliefs of a candidate and to provide coordination among party supporters around candidates. Consequently, new candidates can either 1. sit out of the election, 2. seek influence within an existing party or 3. form a new party. "In single member, plurality systems, the probability that an office-seeking group will attempt to take over an established party's nomination process, rather than sit the election out, or enter the fray with a new party, increases with:"
(1) The permeability of major parties endorsement processes.
(2) The advantage of possessing one of the major party labels (165-166).
Chapter 10: Putting the Constituencies Together
Some scholars argue that electoral rules affect not only district-level politics, but also national-level politics "because national parties link politicians from many electoral districts together for purposes of electoral campaigning and governance" (181).
Cox argues that this is somewhat true "if all candidates find it necessary to join a party that runs candidates in all districts, then local bipartism will indeed turn into national bipartism. But if the extent of linkage falls short of this extreme, then the system may have more than two parties that can field viable parties in at least some districts" (201).
The effect of strategic voting on bipartism in national elections is more clearly dependent upon the dynamics of executive power. If executive power is highly concentrated, national bipartism may result as potential candidates for the executive try to form cross-district coalitions of would-be legislators with enough power to install the executive candidate in office. Even if executive power is distributed among multiple portfolios, and even if those portfolios are determined by proportional representation, district-national linkage may still
result, but not to the extent that this linkage results in bipartism.
Duverger's Law therefore applies to national elections under the following conditions:
(1) The state elects legislators by plurality rule in single member districts.
(2) The state elects its executive by plurality rule in single member districts.
(3) The state holds executive and legislative elections concurrently.
In the event all of these three criteria are satisfied, Cox argues that the following can be expected:
(1) The state will have at most two viable candidates in each legislative district.
(2) The state will have at most two viable candidates for executive office.
(3) The state will have a two party or one party system.
Chapter 12: Coordination Failures and Representation
Traditional View: Strengthening electoral institutions results in less representation of citizens' preferences, but more stability.
Cox writes that policies are most representative when they are most centrist. When policies are centrist, they minimize the space between actual policy and the ideal policy preference of most citizens. If Duverger's model holds in simple majority, single ballot systems, competition in each district pulls candidates toward the median voter (the center). However, if coordination fails, and more than two parties survive to election day, the centripetal force affecting parties is not as strong. Because parties are elected for favoring preferences that are farther away from the median voter, the resulting policy is likely to be less representative of the entire population within the district.
Chapter 13: Coordination Failures and Dominant Parties
This chapter argues that differences in ability of political forces to coordinate often results in the maintenance of dominant party systems. SNTV systems are particularly likely to produce asymmetric coordination and therefore party dominance.
Under single-non-transferrable-vote (SNTV) rules, parties face two major problems:
- Parties must decide how many candidates to run in each constituency.
- Parties often struggle to optimally divide votes among their candidates in each district.
There are a number of solutions to these coordination problems:
(1) National negotiations in which party withdrawals in one area are compensated for with gains in another area.
(2) Because parties cannot typically exert direct control on how their members vote, parties may seek optimal vote allocations to their candidates by allowing them to form niches and/or provide particularist goods and services to their supporters.
Candidates compete to offer potential supporters money and pork. This competition among candidates leads to the equalization of vote totals (candidates can trade pork for endorsements, which therefore leads to a more liquid/efficient market for vote shares). Governing parties (like the Liberal Democrats in Japan) are in the best position to provide such patronage, and they are therefore more efficient at converting votes into seats.
Chapter 14:Coordination Failure and Realignment
Realignments are "short lived but very intense disruptions of voting behavior" when large blocks of the electorate shift their "partisan allegiance" (251). Also present are disruptions "of the party nominating and platform writing machinery" which leads to changes in the internal loci of power within the major party most affected by the realignment resulting in "transformations in large clusters of policy" (251).
Realignment requires the coordination of large numbers of voters and politicians. The higher the anticipated costs of coordination failure, the less likely a realignment is to happen. The costs of coordination failure increase with the strength of an electoral system in that failures result in the loss of more seats. In stronger electoral systems, realignments occur less frequently but are more consequential.
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Additional summaries found online
"This is a book about strategic coordination broadly conceived, covering both legislative and executive elections, both strategic entry and strategic voting. It investigates the consequences of strategic coordination and those structural features that determine the nature of the coordination problems that political actors face in differing politics." (4)
Key dependent variables: strategic coordination, strategic entry, strategic voting. "Successful electoral coordination necessarily involves a reduction in the number of competitors; but such a reduction just as necessarily entails a selection of which competitors will survive, and this selection potentially has important policy effects." (5)
Three key independent variables for the book: (1) nature of electoral institutions; (2) nature of political actors' preferences; (3) nature of actors' expectations.
Electoral systems are systems of exchange, much like the price system is in markets (6-8). "The key to the process by which voter demands are anticipated and fulfilled is the system of expectations." (7)
DUVERGER's "law": a simple plurality election rule ("the simple-majority single-ballot system") favors a two party system.
Duverger's "hypothesis": "The simple-majority system with second ballot [run-off] and proportional representation favors multipartyism." (14)
DISTRICT-LEVEL: Duverger wrote that the effect of his "law" was limited to "local bi-partism," yet he then tried to extend the logic to say it would lead to a national two-party system. Cox doesn't agree with the extension, so he will use district-level data. [It is possible that local elections will be two-party, but that national elections will have more parties, b/c some parties may only compete in certain regions.] (28)
POST-ENTRY: There's a debate whether to examine Duverger's law as having a pre-entry (deterrent) effect, or a post-entry effect (of making some candidates just be ignored as election day approaches). Cox favors the post-entry view. (29)
STRATEGIC VOTING VS. SINCERE VOTING: Sincere voting means voting for the candidate/party you agree most with (Nader). Strategic voting means voting for Gore instead of Nader: of the candidates with a chance at victory, you vote for the one you like. You try to get the most bang for your vote.
STRATEGIC VOTING AND ELECTORAL RULES: Strategic voting is more common in simple plurality electoral systems than in PR systems, b/c there are fewer parties. However, there is always a degree of strategic voting. "There is a continuum of systems, ranging from those in which strategic voting imposes a constraining upper bound, to those in which it imposes a rarely-constraining or unconstraining upper bound, on the number of parties." (33)
PART II: STRATEGIC VOTING
lots of detailed description of various kinds of electoral rules.
tables showing what kinds of rules each country has
the rules determine the level of competition, and affect likelihood of coordination failures by affecting incentives for alliances btw parties
the point: it's more than just plurality vs PR: there are other ways of creating ways for small parties to survive (e.g. New York state)
Ch. 4: Strategic voting in single-member single-ballot systems
A theoretical model of strategic voting stipulating when voters will vote strategically and why. Shows the limits and assumptions of Duverger's law. The points below all come from the conclusion.
DUVERGER's law applies only in specific institutional conditions: a single, exclusive, non-fused candidate vote. In other words, there are many ways to promote multipartism; increasing district magnitude is neither necessary nor sufficient to promote multipartism. Runoffs, nonexclusive votes, and fusion candidacies all make life easier for third parties.
Duverger's law is also subject to THEORETICAL LIMITATIONS. (1) Not too many voters have a clear first choice and are indifferent among the other two choices (e.g. not too many Nader supporters are hard core). (2) There can't be a sure winner, because then supporters of minor candidates have no reason to vote strategically. (3) Voters must have only short-term motivations (unlike supporters of Perot, who supported a sure loser to build more support for the future). (4) Beliefs about who the trailing candidates are is common knowledge. And so forth.
EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE for bipartism has been at the local level, not the national level. There is no reason to expect local bipartism to exert upward pressure and lead to national bipartism.
In addition, it may be more appropriate to look at ELITE expectations more than at individual voters' expectations. By deciding who to fund and support, the elites largely determine which candidates will be perceived by the masses as having a chance.
PART III: STRATEGIC ENTRY
Ch. 8: Strategic voting, party labels, and entry (see conclusion)
Duverger and THE LITERATURE on strategic entry: Because "would-be third party candidates" (pg 170) would realize in advance that they would be the victims of strategic desertion by voters, they will therefore not enter the race.
LIMITATIONS of this argument: (1) VIABILITY: It may not be clear at the time that entry decisions are made which candidates will be viable (e.g. it wasn't clear up front whether Kerry or Dean would win the 2004 Dem nomination. If it had been a three-way race against Bush, Dean would not necessarily have withdrawn. (2) POLITICIAN'S GOALS: Duverger assumed politicians had short-term goals. However, some, like Perot, may be willing to lose a couple times in order to win eventually (or to force policy concessions).
PARTIES' ROLE, therefore, is as long-term coordination devices. Clear expectations about viability do arise, and they are the product "mostly of electoral history and party labels" (170). Party labels, once established, can deter third-party entry if they have two properties: (1) "conveying a certain number of habitual votes into a candidate's total and (2) certifying the candidacy as 'viable'" (170).
Thus, Duverger's prediction works only with this CONDITION: "The entry reduction part of the argument goes through if there is a structured party system in Sartori's sense of the term, but may not if there is not a structured party system" (171).
So, what will be the minimal viable SIZE of a party? There is an upper bound (which may not be reached) on the viable number of party labels, depending on institutions. This upper bound follows the M+1 RULE. M varies according to three electoral systems, as discussed in part II: "plurality rule in M-seat districts, PR in M-seat districts, and top-M runoffs" (171).
When will political aspirants seek to form a NEW PARTY? "The more valuable [it] is [to run] with a major-party label rather than without, and the more permeable ... the major party's nomination process [is], the more likely ... new groups or would-be candidates [are] to "infiltrate" the major party, rather than start a new party, in accord with the old adage: If you can't beat them, join them" (172). Note that there are two variables here: (1) permeability of the old party (how easy it is to join them and change them) and (2) whether you get bigger returns by joining them.
PART IV: ELECTORAL COORDINATION AT THE SYSTEM LEVEL
Ch. 10: Putting constituencies together (e.g. the flawed "link" Duverger makes from a theory about districts to a conclusion about national politics)
Duverger, Sartori, and others propose a link between Duverger's district-level law and national party structures. Duverger wrote, "Plurality election rules at the district level tend to produce national bipartism" (201). But this argument is WRONG.
Duverger's Law is only true nationally if "all candidates find it necessary to join a party that runs candidates in all districts" (201), but there is no reason to ASSUME that this is true. Some parties may run candidates only locally. "Thus, the systemic version of Duverger's Law is incomplete as a theoretical proposition, whatever its merits as an empirical generalization" (201).
Whether politics on the national level is bipartisan or multipartisan DEPENDS BOTH ON DISTRICT-LEVEL AND NATIONAL-LEVEL (EXECUTIVE) ELECTORAL RULES.
Thus, a revision of Duverer's law: "If a system (1) elects legislators by plurality rule in single-member districts; (2) elects its chief executive by something like nationwide pluarality rule; and (3) holds executive and legislative elections concurrently, then it will tend to" have at most two viable candidates at both local and national levels, and thus a national two- or one-party dominant system (201).
REPRESENTATIVE VS EFFICIENT voting also matters: if voters vote efficiently, then strategic voting will arise only in favor of nationally competitive parties.
FIVE REASONS why politicians from different districts might want to form a national label. (1) pursuing national policy; (2) pursuing the presidency; (3) pursuing the premiership; (4) pursuing the upper tier seats; (5) pursuing campaign finance.
THREE TYPES of portfolio-maximizing strategic voting: (1) Strategic sequencing (controlling parliament to get into coalition); (2) Strategic balancing (of Senate, House, and Presidency); (3) threshold insurance (preventing a prospective coalition partner from falling below the electoral threshold)
IN SUM: coordination at the local level affects the number of parties within each district, coordination at the national level affects the degree to which the local party systems cumulate into a national party system (203). The electoral systems in place at both district and national levels interact to determine the national party structure.
Ch. 11: Electoral institutions, cleavage structures, and the number of parties
"A cross-sectional MODEL of the effective number of parties (at the national level) in 54 polities" (204)
THREE GOALS of the model: (1) to investigate the "hypothesized interaction between social and electoral structure"; (2) to investigate chapter 10's claim that the number of national parties depends interactively on (a) "the degree of integration of executive and legislative elections" and (b) the "strength of the executive choice procedure"; and (3) to "assess the importance of [chapter 10's other national-level variable] the existence of upper tiers" (204).
Regarding goal 2, a hypothesized TWO-STEP PROCESS: (1) "Presidential rules combine interactively with social diversity to produce an effective number of presidential candidates' (2) the effective number of presidential candidates affects the effective number of legislative competitors, with the size of the impact depending on the proximity of the presidential and legislative elections" (204).
IN SUM: an econometric model that predicts the "effective number of parties at the national level based on variables drawn from both the distric and national levels, and from both institutional and sociological perspectives" (220). Key VARIABLES: district magnitude, social diversity, electoral permissiveness, executive choice procudure, upper tiers, social cleavages (221).
GENERAL CONCLUSION: Multipartism is the joint product of both (a) "many exploitable [social] cleavages" and (b) a "permissive electoral system." In other words, the electoral system sets an upper limit on the possible number of parties (the system's "permissiveness"), but bipartism may still result if there aren't enough social cleavages to need more parties.
PART V: COORDINATION FAILURES AND DEMOCRATIC PERFORMANCE
Ch. 12: Coordination failures and representation
Key question: "How will democratic performance be affected when the electoral system broadly conceived (including both the legislative and executive election procedures) becomes stronger?" (An electoral system is stronger if it exerts a stronger incentive for parties to consolidate; i.e. A is "stronger" than B if A has a lower upper bound on the viable number of competitors than B does). (225)
LITERATURE's answer: a trade-off between REPRESENTATION VS STABILITY (225)
"Representation" = one is represented if one's views are "reflected in the final product ..., enacted policy." Thus:
KEY QUESTION: "What kinds of electoral systems, under what conditions, reliably produce centrist outcomes?" (226)
THE POINT: "If representation is defined in terms of whether each votere can find a legislator who advocates similar views, then larger district magnitudes obviously enhance representation. If representation is defined in terms of how close the government's policy is to each voter's ideal, then the case in favor of larger-magnitude districts is less immediate and depends crucially on how one thinks the politics of coordination will play out" (236).
In a DUVERGERIAN WORLD, then the strongest system (single-member, single-ballot) would lead to two national parties offering similar centrist policies --> stronger = more representative (237)
When NON-DUVERGERIAN results crop up, a stronger system can lead to poor coordination by the center, allowing extremists to win in the constituencies and pull national policy far from the median (237)
ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT COORDINATION ARE KEY: "If coordination is more likely to fail at the electoral stage, then stronger systems will be more erratic. If coordination is more likely to fail at the government formation stage, then feebler systems will be more erratic" (237).
PART VI: CONCLUSION
Ch. 15: Conclusion
VOTES DON'T COUNT when people cannot coordinate on a candidate or party. (e.g. those voting for Gore and Nader didn't get their votes counted because they failed to coordinate even though they commanded a majority.)
Thus, BETTER COORDINATION by Republicans --> BETTER REPRESENTATION in the White House
STRENGTH: "The procedures use to choose who wins spots, seats, and portfolios can be more or less strong -- and the stronger they are, the bigger the coordination problems that political actors face at that stage" (270).
STRATEGIC VOTING: Two key assumptions. (1) Short-term instrumental rationality and (2) rational expectations ("i.e., expectations that are consistent with rational behavior on the part of all voters") (271). This article reviews two forms: (1) "seat-maximizing" and (2) "portfolio-maximizing" (272).
M+1 RULE: "Typically, no more than M+1 candidates can be viable in SMSP or top-M runoff elections; and no more than M+1 lists can be viable in PR candidates" (271). (M = district magnitude in SMSP and PR, and the number of candidates that advance in runoff elections).
FORMAL ANALYSIS has advantages: (1) clearly stated assumptions; (2) clearer statement of conclusions
ADVANTAGES OF THIS MODEL OF STRATEGIC VOTING: (1) "Recognizing that the direct effect of strategic coordination falls on electoral competitors -- that is, candidates or lists -- rather than on parties, helps clarify our understanding of systems that allow joint lists or fusion candidacies. In these systems, the number of viable parties may well exceed the number of viable lists or candidates, because more than one party can support a given competitor." (2) "Recognizing that strategic voting only imposes an upper bound on the number of competitors, rather than establishing an equilibrium number, helps to clarify a classic debate about the 'multiplying power' of PR." (3) "Recognizing that strategic voting only imposes an upper bound also changes how one thinks about the relation between electoral and social structure." (273-4)
SYSTEMIC COORDINATION: Duverger/Sartori took argued that a district-level theory could explain coordination across districts, leading to a national party system. However, there is one "(well-understood) logic that drives local results. There is another (little-explored) logic that drives cross-district alliance formation" (275).
COORDINATION FAILURES also affect the quality of policy.
FUTURE RESEARCH IDEAS (277)
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Cox, Making Votes Count (1997)
Chapter 1: Introduction
Cox, Making Votes Count (1997)
Chapter 1: Introduction
The book is concerned with strategic coordination (both strategic entry and strategic voting) in electoral systems. Following Duverger, successful coordination will reduce the number of electoral competitors.
Main IVs are: electoral institutions, political motivations and public expectations. Institutions mostly define the electoral coordination game.
The analogy for electoral systems is the market: a hypothetical equilibrium exists with market clearing expectations which equate the demand of citizens and the supply of candidates. Main point of book is to "explain how different electoral laws affect the nature of market-clearing expectations and electoral coordination" (8).
Chapter 2: Duverger's Propositions
Duverger's Law: simple plurality rule favors a two-party system. Duverger's Hypothesis: simple plurality with second ballot and proportional representation favors multipartyism.
Critiques against Duverger and the institutionalist approach: 1) causal arrow is wrong and party systems actually determine electoral systems 2) from the political sociologists: party systems determined by number and type of social cleavages in society. Cox hopes to synthesize both sociological and institutionalist approaches.
Against the sociological approach, Cox shows that different electoral systems do produce different party systems even within the same country at the same time (between elected upper and lower houses). Important question as to whether Duverger's Law applies to country-wide or district-level elections (Cox deals with district level) and whether applies to pre-entry or post-entry politics (Cox deals with post-entry).
Voters will vote for either one of two candidates because of 1) strategic voting (don't waste vote on unlikely winner) or because 2) political elites only invest resources in serious candidates. Cox believes both explanations are important.
Chapter 3: Electoral Systems
Electoral system is a set of laws and party rules that regulate electoral competition between and within parties (38). Chapter includes lots of terminology on types of voting and districts. Electoral formulas are how votes are translated into seats, and are divided into two main camps: plurality/majority rules and proportional representation. Plurality rules tend to lead towards a majority party in the legislature, while PR leads to more proportional results.
Chapter 4: Strategic Voting in Single-Member Single-Ballot Districts
Duvergerian equilibria: level of strategic voting undercuts support for all but two candidates. Non-Duvergerian equilibria: two or more candidates tied for second, so neither is discounted and more than two significant candidates are left in the field. Duverger law assumes trailing third candidates are reduced to hard core support, all voters are short-term instrumentally rational, identity of front runners and trailers is known. With these assumptions, the model has severe limits.
Chapter 8: Strategic Voting, Party Labels and Entry
Duverger predicts that strategic voting will keep non-viable third-party candidates out of race (strategic entry). Cox adds two restrictions to this: 1) restriction of viability must be clear (or else lots of candidates would enter) and 2) politicians' goals must only concern winning current election. Party labels help a party's candidates and deter non-party candidates from seeking that party's votes (parties serve as coordination mechanisms).
Ch. 10: Linkages between the district and the national level.
The basic question is whether or not single member districts (SMD) encourage the emergence of two parties at the national level. Cox finds that there is nothing in the logic of district-level electoral structure that allows one to conclude that there will be two parties nationally. There may be factors that push toward national bipartism, but these do not depend on district-level electoral structure.
The motivation to form linkages across districts comes from the economies of scale that are necessary to become the president or prime minister. National candidates need support from all over the country, and have a clear incentive to form with legislators in building support. Four factors affect how strong the incentives toward national bi-partisanism will be: 1. strength of the presidency (concentrated vs. divided); 2. strength of the presidential election procedure in presidential systems / strength of the prime minister election procedure in parliamentary systems; 3. executive-legislative electoral linkages; and 4. strength of the legislative electoral system. These variables determine whether SMDs will encourage convergence on two national parties.
The emergence of national parties changes the calculations of strategic voters, who now may use their votes not only to affect the outcome of the district election but also to affect the outcome of national issue (e.g., who will control the national government). When voters engage in nationally-oriented strategic voting, different voting behaviors may occur. Three examples are given:
1.strategic sequencing: voting in order to affect which party gets the first opportunity to form a government.
2.strategic balancing: voting so as to deny a single party control of all branches of government.
3.threshold voting: voting so as to keep a prospective coalition partner's vote above some threshold mandated by the electoral code.
Chs. 12-14: Coordination Failures
These chapters explore how coordination failures affect various aspects of democratic performance.
Representation: If coordination works, strengthening the electoral rules (reducing the number of seats per district) limits the degree of extremism possible / encourages centrism. When voters fail to coordinate, strengthening increases the degree of extremism possible. [Here representation is maximized by centrist policies because they reduce the aggregate distance between each voter's ideal policy point and the actual policy point.]
Dominant Parties: Dominant parties are likely to occur when the ins are better at coordinating than the outs. An example is India where the centrist party gained power. The other parties where arrayed to the left and right of the centrist party, and found it difficult to coordinate with each other.
More generally: some electoral systems create more difficult coordination problems than others. The more difficult the coordination problems are, the more factors other than voters' preferences will matter in determining who gets seats.
Realignment: Realignment can be thought of as a huge coordination game. Realignment is less likely in strong (low number of seats per district) electoral systems because costs of failure are very high. But when realignment does happen, it is more consequential (because only really important issues are big enough to force realignment).
Ch. 15: Conclusion
Vote wasting: Voters that fail to coordinate waste their votes in several ways. One way is voting for a party that has no chance of winning. Another is voting for a party that is guaranteed to win. In order to make votes count, coordination is required.
Upper bound: Typically no more than M+1 candidates can be viable in SMSP or top-M run-off elections; and no more than M+1 lists can be viable in PR elections. The M+1 rule does not specify how many candidates/lists/parties there will be; it merely suggests an upper bound. When the upper bound is exceeded, there will be an incentive for voters to coordinate in reducing the number so as not to waste votes. However, this assumes that voters are instrumentally rational (care about who wins seats in their district at the present time) and voters possess rational expectations (can identify which ones are viable).
Linkages: The number of legislative parties at the national level is best thought of as a joint product of legislative and executive electoral rules, both interacting with social cleavages.