Applying the methodology of mechanism design to the choice of electoral systems
Abbreviated Journal Title
J. Theor. Polit.
endogenous institutions; election laws; Europe; franchise expansion; incomplete information; institutional design; INSTITUTIONAL CHOICE; POLAND; EVOLUTION; POLITICS; EUROPE; Political Science
In this article we inquire into the strategic intent behind the design of election laws. Presuming that institutional designers are strategic and rational, we identify the extent of information incompleteness as determining their objectives for rule choice. For different levels of information incompleteness, we assess empirically the validity of explaining actual choices with designers' electoral goals. Using parameter-specific predictions for players' institutional preferences (obtained from a game-theoretic model which assumes electoral success as the design goal) we find that design does not always meet the criterion of elections-aimed rationality (electoral rationalizability). We identify a structural difference between levels of electoral rationalizability in two sets of European electoral reforms, those that accompanied the late 19th - early 20th-century franchise expansion, and those during the post-communist franchise creation in East - Central Europe. For the later sub-sample we rely on a qualitative assessment of electoral rationalizability since extremely high levels of information incompleteness in these cases do not allow us to apply the model reliably. We provide evidence linking the structural difference in electoral rationalizability between the two sub-samples and the sub-sample variation in electoral rationalizability in the late 19th - early 20th century to the quality of information available to the designers.
Journal of Theoretical Politics
"Applying the methodology of mechanism design to the choice of electoral systems" (2008). Faculty Bibliography 2000s. 550.