In Search of Ideological Congruence


Professor: Align Left                Student: Center                    Gadfly: Align Right


  1. The professor felt great today,
  2. Because he got an email earlier from APSA,
  3. Affirming acceptance to the Labor Day conference,
  4. Confirming the need to discuss his created competence.
  5. So he opened the class discussion this way:
  6. Ask me about anything we’ve read!
  7.      Whatever you don’t completely understand!
  8. Professor,
  9. How do you design,
  10. Electoral institutions,
  11. To promote effective representation,
  12. Considering ideological congruence?
  13. Students’ fingers raced to their keyboards.
  14. Electoral institutions, traditionally, are measured by causal influences
  15.      On party systems.[1]
  16. Benoit, though, measures causal influences as effects, or byproducts,
  17.      Of party systems.
  18. His most important finding was that electoral systems do not stabilize,
  19.      As equilibrium institutions through time.
  20. Indeed, a mutual relationship exists,
  21.       Between party and electoral systems; because,
  22.              Electoral systems impact party systems,
  23.                    Which were formed amidst partisan electoral competition.
  24. An anxious student interjects:
  25. If the democratic intent of electoral institutions
  26. Is to implant representatives of the people,
  27. Into government; then,
  28. How does the will of the people,
  29. Transform into electoral institutions?
  30. The professor’s bushy eyebrows lowered:
  31. Duverger (1951) examined two mechanical forces at play,
  32.       In electoral laws.
  33. They are the mechanical and psychological participants, say,
  34.       Scholars have discovered some flaws.
  35. The mechanical aspect is the mechanism which constrains,
  36.       And translates votes into MP seats.
  37. The psychological aspect is the mechanism which frames,
  38.       Voter and party responses,
  39.              According to perceptions of the mechanical feats.
  40. These mechanisms help articulate party size and,
  41.       Alternative electoral institutions.
  42. Founding electoral systems, on the other hand,
  43.       Are different than amending through the institution,
  44.              Existing democratic governance.
  45. A dissertating graduate student,
  46. Revealed her dispassionate preference:
  47. Please focus on new democracies.
  48. In founding electoral systems,
  49.      There are five major potential problems.
  50.        First, uncertainty, or a lack of reliable information,
  51.             Couples with imperfect information.
  52.             Thus dissertating researchers should trap the electoral rules “gap,”
  53.                ‘Tween perceived preferences and actual preferences,
  54.                     Amongst political actors, which, consequently;
  55.                          Is a predictability and stability trap.
  56.       Second, decision-makers may be constrained,
  57.            By new constitutional measures, thereby, researchers should inspect:
  58.                 Bargaining power, informal agreements, and social aspects.
  59.                     Meaning, the new democracy may suffer from past authoritarian,
  60.                          Regime legacies and power asymmetries.
  61.       Third, institutions from the previous regime may be de facto unacceptable,
  62.             But new institutions may not be in place, or, ill-defined.
  63.                    The status quo dimensions of a dictatorship are serpentine, swine,
  64.                          In light of true democratic institutional binds!
  65.       Fourth, political parties and coalitions may be ill-defined.
  66.       Finally, the perceived legitimacy of the institution chosen matters!
  67.               In founding elections, institutions must be perceived as just!
  68.                       This may trump the pursuit of individual or partisan candor,
  69.                                 Of partisan lust.
  70. This student reminds me,
  71. Of Voltaire’s Candide:
  72. Professor,
  73. High congruence means that policy and procedure,
  74. Between representatives and the electorate,
  75. Is echoed like V.O. Key’s “echo chamber”?
  76. The Professor had never thought,
  77. That a Ph.D. student would drop,
  78. Such a thorny juggernaut.
  79. Political scientists are beginning to measure the ideological preferences,
  80.          Of electorates.[2]
  81. The usual way to measure citizen-representative congruence is,
  82.          Absolute congruence.
  83. To do so, you measure the ideological difference between the median citizen and,
  84.          The government.
  85. But others analyze data differently, by respecting the dispersion of,
  86.          Citizens’ preferences [called relative congruence].
  87. This creates two lines of research; whereby, the first is useful when analyzing,
  88.          Many-to-one relationships.
  89. The latter is useful when accounting for the relationship between,
  90.          Representative performance and congruence upon,
  91.                  Citizens’ preferences.
  92. Golder and Stramski thus create a new conceptualization of,
  93.           Ideological congruence.
  94. This congruence method measures the ideal of having a legislature that reflects,
  95.           The citizens’ ideological preferences.
  96. When discovering vote-seat disproportionality, i.e.,
  97.           How the peoples’ vote transformed into MP seats; we see,
  98.                  No difference in proportional or majoritarian democracies, excepting,
  99.                         Proportional democracies are more congruent in,
  100.                                  The legislative body.
  101. Golder and Stramski clearly dileneates:
  102.     Congruence is one citizen or many citizens; upon,
  103.          One representative or many representatives.
  104.              Within this assumption, one-to-one congruence is high if,
  105.                    The absolute difference between citizen and representative is:
  106.                          Diminutive.
  107.          Many-to-one levels of congruence are high if,
  108.                   The absolute difference between citizen(s) and representative(s) is:
  109.                          Diminutive.
  110.          Many-to-many levels of congruence are high if,
  111.                    Citizen distributions and representative preferences are similar; and,
  112.                          Perfect when the two distributions are identical—determinative.
  113. This Many-to-Many Model is most groundbreaking, since,
  114.      Many-to-many relationships offer multiple premises.
  115.             Thus inquire into the relationship between the representatives as a whole and,
  116.                   Their reflection upon the ideological preferences of the denizens.
  117.             Survey citizens and find the percentage of socialists, for instance:
  118.                    Is that same percentage of seats in the legislature reserved by chance?
  119. Kroar narrowed his eyes,
  120. Anticipating genuine sighs:
  121. Professor,
  122. What of citizen preferences in a majoritarian two-party system,
  123. Versus the proportional “representative” exhibition?
  124. The Many-to-Many Model was, for me, an apparition!
  125.      All of the measures indicate that the mean level of congruence,
  126.              Is higher in countries that employ majoritarian electoral systems!
  127. Why?
  128. The institutional [structured] differences in majoritarian and
  129.      Proportional representation (i.e. consensus),
  130.            Are conceptually significant!
  131. In evidence, t-tests upon the dispersion of citizen preferences,
  132.      Are reduced in majoritarian democracies—‘tis preeminent!
  133.      CSES surveys, Eurobarometer, and WVS surveys,
  134.            Confirm the preliminary evidence!
  135. Measurements under The Many-to-Many Model accounts for the dispersion,
  136.       Of citizens preferences!
  137. A restless young adult who tears apart,
  138. Each new piece of evidence entered into the talk,
  139. Like a kitten pouncing on the laser dot—
  140. Instead of seeing the source,
  141. Lunges towards the next exposure.
  142. To this one, everything is tart! Yes!
  143. That student from Ode to Lijphart:
  144. Ah, Professor,
  145. That is not what the old evidence states,
  146. How long before this new evidence is replaced?
  147. In 2009, Powell to your question describes,
  148.      that there was change over time.
  149. Remember, my students, “politics is like surfing!”
  150.       And sometimes it’s enough to record the day’s waves,
  151.             But today’s discussion, I think, makes plain,
  152.                    That political scientists may productively display,
  153.                         Predictive measures to elevate congruence,
  154.                               For Democracy’s sake!
  155. Like riding the perfect wave!
  156. And you in the dissertating game:
  157.       You do have tools to become an active participant,
  158.            To prescribe an accurate democratic frame,
  159.                 Through an electoral-institutional stance,
  160.                       To an emerging democracy during this,
  161.                               Arab Spring wave!
  162. Kroar ascertained:
  163. Talk about “public utility.”
  164. The Professor smiled.
  165. Now, let us resume with our scheduled lecture.
  166.      I’m glad to have answered your questions—your wit.
  167.             By the way, APSA acceptance letters are in; I wager:
  168.                   Go on with your typing—click, check, click.

[1] This begins an analysis of Benoit. 2007. Electoral Laws as Political Consequences: Explaining the Origins and Change of Electoral Institutions. Annual Review Political Science. 10: 363-90.

[2] This begins an analysis of Golder and Stramski. 2010. Ideological Congruence and Electoral Institutions. American Journal of Political Science. V. 54, N. 1, 90-106.


3 thoughts on “In Search of Ideological Congruence

  1. Pingback: Poli-Sci “Parties” Poetry Book « Political Pipeline

  2. Pingback: Surfing via Political Pipeline | Political Pipeline

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