«Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophischen Fakultät der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel vorgelegt von Johannes Raabe ...»
Electoral Systems and the Proportionality-Concentration
Promises and Pitfalls of Mixed Designs
Dissertation zur Erlangung des Doktorgrades der Philosophischen Fakultät
der Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
Erstgutachter: Prof. Dr. Eric Linhart
Zweitgutachter: Prof. Dr. Christian Martin
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 13.11.2015
Durch den zweiten Prodekan Prof. Dr. John Peterson zum Druck genehmigt: 19.11.2015
Danksagung Diese kumulative Dissertation entstand im Rahmen des von der DFG geförderten Forschungsprojektes „Der funktionale Vergleich von Wahlsystemen unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Mischwahlsystemen“ am Institut für Agrarökonomie der ChristianAlbrechts-Universität Kiel.
Mein Dank gebührt in erster Linie meinem Doktorvater Eric Linhart, der mich jederzeit mit Rat und Tat unterstützt und mir gleichzeitig erhebliche Freiräume in der Planung und Gestaltung meines Dissertationsprojektes eingeräumt hat. Ich bedanke mich bei Ihm vor allem auch für das entgegengebrachte Vertrauen sowie die immer freundliche und konstruktive Arbeitsatmosphäre.
Weiterhin bedanke ich mich bei Christian Martin, der sich bereit erklärt hat, das Zweitgutachten zu dieser Dissertation anzufertigen und im Hinblick auf diverse Problemstellungen immer ein wichtiger Gesprächspartner gewesen ist.
Für viele Hinweise und eine produktive Arbeitsumgebung an der Universität Kiel danke ich außerdem meinen (ehemaligen) KollegInnen in der Abteilung Agrarpolitik – Ernst Albrecht, Birgit Fleischhauer, Christian Henning, Johannes Hedtrich, Eva Krampe, Svetlana Petri, Laura Seide, Sascha Stark und Nana Zubek. Wesentlich an der Fertigstellung dieser Arbeit beteiligt waren auch die studentischen Hilfskräfte im DFG-Projekt. Ich danke Oke Bahnsen, Anna-Katharina Dhungel, Manuel Franz, Roland Krifft und Joshua Vogel für die nicht zu unterschätzende Unterstützung bei der Datenerhebung, Erstellung von Datensätzen, Dokumentenanalysen und diversen Formatierungsarbeiten.
Zahlreiche weitere Personen haben wichtige Hinweise und Hilfestellungen gegeben. Hier sind Susumu Shikano und Franz Urban Pappi zu nennen, welche sich im Rahmen verschiedener Konferenzen mit einzelnen Kapiteln der Dissertation auseinandergesetzt haben. Für Tipps zu spezifischen methodischen Problemen danke ich außerdem Derek Beach, Marco Steenbergen und Sergi Pardos Prado. Besonderer Dank gilt außerdem Jasper Schwampe, der sich aus eher qualitativ-orientierter Forschungsperspektive intensiv mit dem Ansatz der Integration Einzelfallorientierter Forschung in dieser Dissertation auseinandergesetzt hat.
Während der gesamten Promotion konnte ich mich außerdem immer auf meine Freunde und Familie verlassen. Der allergrößte Dank gilt dabei meiner Freundin Lotta, die diese Dissertation schon lange verflucht und mich dennoch in jeder Hinsicht jederzeit voll unterstützt hat.
Holding competitive elections is the most critical defining characteristic of a democratic political system (Riker 1982; Nohlen 2009a). Electoral systems are the core institution responsible for the translation of public opinion into parliamentary representation via an election. Therefore, a wellfunctioning electoral system is a basic requirement for a well-functioning democracy.
Unsurprisingly then, much research effort has been undertaken in order to tackle various questions related to the performance of electoral systems (e.g. Rae 1967; Lijphart 1994; Gallagher & Mitchell 2005a). The main focus is and always has been on the representativeness of election outcomes as well as whether election outcomes made possible the formation of an accountable government (Duverger 1954; Lijphart & Grofman 1984a; Lijphart 1994; Gallagher & Mitchell 2005a; Nohlen 2009a) – the central functional goals of proportional representation and party system concentration. Unfortunately, these two core functions of electoral systems – accurately representing the electorate and fostering the smooth formation of an accountable government – together form the central trade-off and fundamental challenge of electoral system design.
Generally, the closer the parliament matches the distribution of public opinion, the more parties or even independent candidates will be involved, and the less likely it is that the emerging party system will allow the swift formation of a stable and accountable government. At the same time, restricting access to parliament in order to ensure swift government formation will likely distort the accuracy of representation in the parliament (e.g. Farrell 2011). Although questions of the level of personal representation of voters and how much choice voters have with respect to the individuals who represent parties in parliament are undoubtedly important, the core issue of electoral system performance and thus design is that of the representativeness-accountability trade-off (Taagepera & Shugart 1989; Powell 2000; Norris 2004; Farrell 2011). A functioning democracy builds on the representation of the people on the parliamentary level but also depends on a functioning, effective government (Powell 2000) – providing for both is the ne plus ultra of how electoral institutions can shape the political process (Lijphart 1984). While the field of electoral system research has indeed ‘matured’ (Shugart 2005) and we can therefore rely on profound knowledge about electoral system effects on all sorts of characteristics of the party system – especially its representativeness and level of concentration – this critical challenge of finding ways to fulfill both the competing goals of proportionality and concentration remains to be addressed. And it is exactly with this crucial challenge of getting the best out of an electoral system in terms of representativeness and concentration that this thesis is concerned with.
Electoral systems and the ‘best of both worlds’ – the research question
Given the significance of the two functional goals of proportional (i.e. accurate) representation and party system concentration, it is not surprising that electoral system scholars have started to think about whether and how it would be possible to reach an efficient, optimal performance with respect to the proportionality-concentration trade-off. Pure electoral system types are clearly
associated with a good performance in one dimension paired with a bad performance in the other:
a pure proportional representation (PR) electoral system maximizes representativeness but typically fails to concentrate the party system and makes government formation cumbersome and sometimes even impossible as not even a coalition of two or three parties is able to form a parliamentary majority. Plurality electoral systems in which all parliamentary seats are contested in single-member districts and won by those gaining most district votes foster the formation of a single-party government via inducing two-party competition. At the same time, though, they typically lead to many voters casting votes that do not end up affecting the seat distribution in the parliament and are thus considered wasted (Duverger 1954; Lijphart 1994; Nohlen 2009a; Farrell 2011). Lijphart (1984) was the first to suggest that mixing electoral rules from these pure electoral system designs could be the recipe for reaching the ‘best of both worlds’ in electoral system performance, providing for both accurate representation and party system concentration.
After some chastening initial evidence (Lijphart 1984), Shugart and Wattenberg (2001a) focused on mixed-member electoral systems which mix electoral rules holding plurality elections in one electoral tier and PR elections in the other – with mixed evidence. Most recently, Carey and Hix (2011) have advocated PR electoral systems with moderate district magnitudes as optimal in the quest for the best of both worlds.
What is lacking up to this point, however, is a thorough comparative analysis of all types of (mixed) electoral designs with respect to the ‘best of both worlds’ question. As mixed electoral systems continue to spread all over the world, it has never been more vital to thoroughly assess their potential as well as the associated pitfalls. This thesis aims to provide this comparative analysis, present a thorough evaluation of different electoral systems and derive useful implications for future electoral system design in new as well as in established democracies. This thesis seeks to answer the question of which electoral systems are able to reach the best of both worlds of proportional representation and party system concentration. At the same time, eyeing not only promises but also pitfalls of complex, mixed electoral system designs, the thesis also addresses the question of which electoral systems are likely to produce highly undesirable outcomes with respect to both representativeness and party system concentration and overall produce election outcomes that are more akin to the worst of both worlds.
Accumulating evidence – the scope and structure of the thesis
This is a comprehensive comparative study of all electoral systems worldwide which, with this thesis’ focus on maximizing the efficiency of electoral system performance, places mixed electoral designs at the center of attention with pure types of electoral systems and their well-known effects providing important benchmarks. This approach is well in line with existing scholarship that views mixing incentives from pure types of electoral systems as the central means of achieving a superior electoral system performance along the proportionality-concentration trade-off. Yet, and somewhat unlike previous research, this thesis will outright and explicitly consider the pitfalls next to the promises of such mixed electoral designs. The theoretical arguments as well as the empirical investigation will take a look at general scenarios in which mixed electoral designs are probably not only failing to reach the best of both worlds but where they are actually likely to even lead to the worst of both worlds, neither ensuring accurate representation nor fostering the formation of an accountable government. Simply mixing incentives from polar types of electoral systems appears to be a questionable strategy in approaching the challenge of successfully providing both proportional representation and a concentrated party system if applied as a general mantra – and it certainly does not appear to be a risk free strategy. Investigating electoral system performance with respect to the proportionality-concentration trade-off also means that the empirical analyses will largely focus on the macro (i.e. aggregate) level of election outcomes which shape the political process going forward after an election. Clearly, the fulfillment of the two core functional goals matters especially at the level of the overall election results. Yet, whenever attention to the district level is warranted, this thesis will also consider the micro foundations of the macro effects. The empirical analyses are conducted using international as well as sub-national and within-country datasets in order to increase the robustness and leverage of the practical implications drawn from the empirical results.
The theoretical arguments developed and tested in this thesis are based on concepts directly related to the design of an electoral system, meaning that emphasis is put on those factors which can be influenced (more or less) directly by designers, reformers, politicians, and, potentially, even the public. One set of explanatory factors are the technical elements (i.e. the mathematical rules) forming the overall design of an electoral system. Here, general electoral system designs, specific technical elements, and various combinations of the latter, are considered carefully. The other set of explanatory factors are concerned with the question of whether the design of an electoral system was guided by a general overall goal, a principle of representation, and based on agreement among political elites. Of course controlling for the respective wider sociopolitical context, these genuine electoral system factors will be at the heart of the explanations developed with respect to when and why (mixed) electoral system designs lead to exceptionally good (or, bad) performance.
Before briefly outlining the structure of the thesis, it is important to highlight that this is a cumulative (publication-based) doctoral thesis including several chapters that appear (or, are meant to appear) in political science journals as stand-alone pieces. Since the respective articles or manuscripts appear in this thesis in their original form1, some minor inconsistencies and redundancies especially in the introductory parts of these chapters were unavoidable. Still, every effort has been taken to keep them at a minimum. Furthermore, the chapter outlining the theoretical arguments is best understood as a basis to which the different chapters in the empirical part will add several details. Otherwise, this thesis may be read as any other book presenting political science research – the datasets used for the empirical analyses and the accompanying codebooks form the appendix material and are discussed in the respective empirical chapters.
Turning to the structure of the thesis, the overall empirical strategy is to try to accumulate evidence with respect to how electoral system design affects performance along the proportionality-concentration trade-off. After a summary of previous research, its core results and the critical gaps in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 presents the typology of electoral systems that forms the basis for the theoretical arguments developed and the empirical tests conducted in this thesis.
Minor changes were made only with respect to formatting and referencing to fit the overall style of the thesis.