Electoral Choice and The Majority Voice

Left: Professor                                      Center: Student                                       Right: Gadfly

  1. The professor is in the zone,
  2. Expect few comments,
  3. From the students,
  4. Finally ‘tis right, the tone.
  5. Many have explained electoral choice in various ways.
  6.      Instrumental motivations may stem from office or policy plays,
  7.           Some uncover a path of one’s personal gain or public welfare frame.
  8.      Noninstrumental motivations include pressure via external actors.
  9.           The societal conformation to historical models—for example,
  10.                 Is there rust on that agrarian party tractor?
  11.           For technocrats may impose the State’s continuance contracts.
  12.              Thus various political and economic forces are factors…
  13.                     There are electoral choice benefactors.
  14. The professor paused,
  15. Seeing wondrous looks,
  16. Some students seeking cause.
  17. Benoit and Hayden (2004) specifically look at office-seeking,[1]
  18.      As the maximization of the party’s legislative seats,
  19.      For the legislature(s) has only so many openings,
  20.      During the rare systematic times of electoral change.
  21.      Electoral system’s change result(s) from a collective choice:
  22.      Political parties have preferences for alternative institutions,
  23.      Whereupon their political party will gain a stronger voice.
  24.      The status quo electoral institution(s) may be less efficient,
  25.      Than the majority party or majority coalition would prefer,
  26.      Since the majority would like to implement their positions,
  27.             Perhaps a more partisan fare, for sure.
  28.      Consider that new democracies may require “values” conditions,
  29.           And new democracies operate under limited information,
  30.      New democracies need new policy to create democracy,
  31.           Seat choice may thus be deferred, but nonetheless,
  32.                   Parties soon prefer to expand their seats,
  33.                         Thus observable is organized office-seeking.
  34.      The Office-Seeking Model uses roll-call votes by party,
  35.           Regarding the electoral law bill legislation.
  36.      Benoit and Hayden then add opinion poll information.
  37.            To draw out party observable implications.
  38.      This model determines that party policy preferences,
  39.         Or the party member ideological positions,
  40.            Should not matter in the electoral vote decision.
  41.                This helps show seat-gain motivation.
  42.      The model uses Kitchelt’s et al. party positions in two dimensional space.
  43.             To the north: Secular libertarians,
  44.             To the south: Religious authoritarians,
  45.             To the east: Market liberalism,
  46.             To the west: Social protectionism.
  47.      The model computes the dimension-by-dimension median (DMM),
  48.             For both sides of the electoral legislation, and,
  49.      The policy dispersion within the voting bloc’s stance, then,
  50.      Determining the mean party difference from those DMM,
  51.      Weighted by the party’s votes—was there cohesion?
  52.             Their results indicate success in the Polish Sejm.
  53.             More so by the fourth electoral change power grab.
  54.      There are many electoral formulas to enact electoral institutions,
  55.             Under proportional representation.
  56.      For example, the d’Hondt formula uses highest averages,
  57.             It favors large parties and large coalitions.
  58.                   Open and closed modes help determine,
  59.                         If the party, or the people, choose the candidates,
  60.                              To represent them.
  61.      On the other hand, the Sainte-Laguë method proportionally,
  62.             Distributes the peoples’ vote into party seats,
  63.                   Thus more easily allowing small parties,
  64.                         To join legislation processes in freeing,
  65.        All voices present at legislative bargaining.
  66.      Benoit and Hayden find that smaller parties opposed, in Poland,
  67.             The d’Hondt formula in the 1993 electoral roll-call judgment.
  68.      According to public opinion polls before the vote decision,
  69.             Parties standing to gain favored seat-maximizing parlance, they
  70.      Welcomed the opportunity to make the system more efficient.
  71.      There was no evidence that the electoral modification,
  72.             Could be attributed to a policy-seeking explanation.
  73.                     Better evidence of this arose in the study of 1997.
  74. A girl with a flower in her hair,
  75. Tempered the conversation:
  76. Wouldn’t all democracies become two-party systems?
  77.      In 2001, in the Sejm, the SLD was the second largest party,
  78.             Polling to become the first largest party.
  79.                    They wanted the 2001 electoral modification decision,
  80.                         To reflect d’Hondt, 69 list seats, and 52 districts.
  81.             Thus SLD preferred a uniquely distributive political institution.
  82. Kroar already knew the answer to his question:
  83. Was that the outcome?
  84.      The party at the time with the most seats,
  85.             Polling to finish in second place,
  86.                  In the next election,
  87.                       Voted with the minority,
  88.                             Favoring Sainte Laguë!
  89.      Remember, this is the office-seeking model to explain,
  90.             Voting about electoral modification.
  91.      Parties who seek policy instead of more seats,
  92.             Are eliminated through the transformation,
  93.                   That the majority so decreed.
  94.      Parties also remain highly cohesive during this process,
  95.             Volatility may be attributed to partisan bifurcation,
  96.                    Those losing seats may help form a new majority,
  97.                           Electoral choice is thus complex-icated.
  98. Boix (1999) wrote: Setting the Rules of the Game.[2]
  99.      The article is found in the APSR
  100.      Accordingly, let me say some highlights today.
  101.      The dependant variable is the effective electoral threshold.
  102.             Political scientists like it because it is a good predictor,
  103.             Of voters’ preferences upon electoral law distortions; for,
  104.             When the effective electoral threshold increases, you’ll know,
  105.                  Proportionality of the electoral system falls low,
  106.                  While strategic behavior by voters and elites become bold.
  107.      Electoral rules, Boix traces, result from strategic decisions:
  108.             Ruling parties foresee and coordinate electoral systems,
  109.                  To maximize party seats in the parliament.
  110.       Four different events may lead to electoral rules modifications:
  111.             First, universal suffrage [Western European 1910s],
  112.             Second, new competitive elections [1990s East. Europe & Africa],
  113.             Third, widespread voter realignment [1986-88 inFrance],
  114.             Fourth, high party turnover [Greece in this century and France]; hence,
  115.      Research the new parties’ strength against,
  116.             The old parties’ strategies and plans.
  117.      You may very well find that when old parties are in,
  118.           Non-Duvergerian equilibrium; they will turn,
  119.                 To the system of proportional representation.
  120.      Uncertainty in the electoral arena, for instance,
  121.             Parties will quickly minimize risk,
  122.                  And adopt a pure PR system or one ‘at is mixed.
  123.      If parties resemble local notables; enticing patronage,
  124.             Voters probably have as many votes as seats in practice.
  125.      Federalism may make models of PR “superfluous”[3]
  126.            Canada, for example, allows Québécois interests,
  127.             To be given PR type weight in the Ottawa government.
  128.      For federalism secures separation of powers, by constitution,
  129.             Between regional and national entities, whereas,
  130.             Rather homogenous minorities are represented,
  131.             Softly at the national level and loudly in their region.
  132.      Where cleavages are quite ubiquitous in a country,
  133.             A single-member single-ballot system best benefits,
  134.                   The strongest minority.
  135.      A man with a golden tan asked:
  136. How about ethnicity?
  137. Mozaffar, Scarritt, and Galaich (2003) research ethnopolitical cleavages,
  138.      As they interact with electoral institutions and party systems [in Africa].[4]
  139.      Two data sets on African countries they make use of:
  140.             One provides evidence of elections and electoral institutions,
  141.             The other reveals ethnopolitical groups and cleavages.
  142.      Overall: they ask you to subscribe to the idea of an embedded institution:
  143.             Ethnopolitical cleavages as a part of political institutions;
  144.                  Does structure strategic coordination of voters,
  145.                  Does structure strategic coordination of candidates—
  146.                          Over votes and seats; you may discover.
  147.             Tested are the independent, additive, and interactive effects,
  148.                  Specifying fragmentation or concentration of party systems,
  149.                         By the quantity of electoral and legislative party suspects.
  150.             They deny primordialism and affirm constructivism; meaning,
  151.                  Cleavages are social, economic, and political framings.
  152.             They see strategic coordination as desire for winners in elections;
  153.                  A “mutually reinforcing” design accommodates expectations,[5]
  154.                         Between the ones seeking election and those voters—
  155.                               Voting them into office.
  156.      The scholars seek the interactive effect of ethnopolitical fragmentation,
  157.                  And / or concentration on the structure of party systems.
  158.             District magnitude (DM) [the number of seats per electoral district] matters.
  159.                  DM sets the threshold of votes needed to win a seat ceteris paribus;
  160.                         Small districts with high thresholds boost vote-seat disproportionality,
  161.                              And reduce the number of parties.
  162.                         Large districts do the opposite indeed.
  163.             Coattail effects in African presidential elections,
  164.                  Decreases the number of parties; unless,
  165.                      A large number of presidential candidates,
  166.                           Draw out the ethnopolitical cleavages.
  167. The “golden child” of the graduate class:
  168. That’s a lot to take in.
  169. What are their findings?
  170.      The variable operationalizations account for (1) party systems,
  171.             (2) Electoral institutions, and (3) constructed ethnopolitical cleavages.
  172.             For party systems, the D.V., make use of these indices:
  173.             Effective Number of Electoral Parties, and,
  174.             Effective Number of Legislative Parties; say,
  175.                  The structure of parties is seen.
  176.             Over electoral institutions many have brood,
  177.                  In favor today is the use of district magnitude.
  178.                  Following Lijphart, they use average district magnitude.
  179.             Also, be aware, in this electoral institutions study they compute,
  180.             Proximity of Presidential and Legislative Elections; multiplied by,
  181.             The Effective Number of Presidential Candidates produced.[6]
  182.             Meaning, proximity is maximal during a presidential election; conclude,
  183.                  There is zero proximity during a midterm [election] interlude.
  184. One said under their breath:
  185. What do they conclude?
  186.      Constructed ethnopolitical cleavages, under consideration,
  187.             Determine evidence of fragmentation or concentration.
  188.      They use an index of total fragmentation, which combines:
  189.             All undivided top, middle-level groups, and lower-level groups,
  190.                  ‘at are potentially relevant during national electoral times.
  191.      They wish to find joint / independent effects about the party’s scoop,
  192.             Thus Ethnopolitical Group Fragmentation produced; multiplied by,
  193.             Ethnopolitical Group Concentration in calculation.
  194.             All this through Africa’s third wave democracy consolidation.
  195. The same student spoke louder:
  196. What do they conclude?
  197.             Ethnopolitical cleavages do structure strategic coordination,
  198.                  Among the voters and candidates involved,
  199.                        In affecting the structure of electoral institutions,
  200.                             On how the structure of party systems do evolve.
  201.             Group concentration is strengthened by face-to-face interaction,
  202.                  This helps fortify otherwise weak links between subgroups,
  203.                         Common interests are developed in the spatial electoral competition.
  204.                                Linkage is important for the party’s troops.
  205.      To the scholars’ surprise, under two models—there showed no roots,
  206.             No independent effects via the institutional variable of,
  207.                   District magnitude.
  208. And in the other models?
  209.             According to Model 4, which uses DM according to; two
  210.                  Ethnopolitical cleavages. DM significantly does reduce,
  211.                         The quantity of electoral and legislative parties in use.
  212.             So in Kenya, where the fragmentation index is 9.5,
  213.                  And a concentration index of 2.3—they find,
  214.                         There are 4.3 electoral parties assigned,
  215.                         There are 3 legislative parties defined.
  216.             But in Malawi, where the fragmentation index is 5.8,
  217.                   And a concentration index of 2.8—you find,
  218.                         There are 2.8 electoral parties designed,
  219.                         There are 2.8 legislative parties assigned.
  220.             Large district magnitudes reduced parties under fragmentation,
  221.                   And increase the number of parties when spatially concentrated.
  222.             Conversely, small district magnitudes will reduce parties when,
  223.                   Ethnopolitical groups are fragmented; and,
  224.                         Increase them when spatially concentrated.
  225.             Constructivist insights are contingent and strategic—not reflexive.
  226.             Africa is relatively low in levels of fragmentation.
  227.             Since district magnitude interacts with two cleavage dimensions;
  228.                 Hence, there is a built-in fragmentation – a bloc voting corrective.
  229.            Consolidating democracies in Africa lack programmatic platforms,
  230.                So candidates seek reform by appealing to ethnopolitical group norms.
  231.             Importantly, there’s a curvilinear relationship ‘ tween ethnopolitical
  232.                Fragmentation, and, the structure of the African party systems’ forms.
  233.             There is no evidence of antipathy ‘tween ethnicity and democracy, of course,
  234.                 Under these models; whereas ethnicity is an electoral resource,
  235.       Only be terrified when there are two internally cohesive boars,
  236.               Penetratingly polarized, and spatially mixed groups at each other’s throats,
  237.                      See Rwanda and Burundi and their well-earned remorse.

[1] This begins an analysis of Benoit and Hayden. 2004. Institutional Change and Peristance: The Evolution of Poland’s Electoral System, 1989-2001. The Journal of Politics. V. 66, N. 2, Pp. 396-427.

[2] This begins an analysis of Boix. 1999. Setting the Rules of the Game: The Choice of Electoral Systems in Advanced Democracies. The American Political Science Review. V. 93, N. 3, Pp. 609-624.

[3] Page 621.

[4] This begins an analysis of Mozaffar, Scarritt, Galaich. 2003. Electoral Institutions, Ethnopolitical Cleavages, and Party Systems in Africa’s Emerging Democracies. American Political Science Review. V. 97, N. 3, Pp. 379-390.

[5] Page 380.

[6] Page 384.

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