Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms

IEB Working Paper N. 2013/032

45 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2013

See all articles by Tuukka Saarimaa

Tuukka Saarimaa

Aalto University - School of Business; Aalto University - School of Engineering

Janne Tukiainen

VATT Institute for Economic Research; University of Turku - Turku School of Business - Department of Economics

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: June 13, 2013

Abstract

We use Finnish local election voting data to analyze whether voters value local representation and act strategically to guarantee it. To identify such preferences and behavior, we exploit municipal mergers as natural experiments, which increase the number of candidates and parties available to voters and intensify political competition. Using difference-in-differences strategy, we find that voters in merged municipalities start to concentrate their votes to local candidates despite the larger choice set, whereas the vote distributions in the municipalities that did not merge remain the same. Moreover, the concentration effect is clearly larger in municipalities that are less likely to gain local representation in the post-merger councils. We also find that the effect increases both as the geographical distance and income heterogeneity between merging municipalities increases. We interpret these results as evidence of both preferences for local representation and strategic voting.

Keywords: Electoral boundary reform, local representation, municipality mergers, strategic voting

JEL Classification: C21, C23, D72, H73, H77

Suggested Citation

Saarimaa, Tuukka and Tukiainen, Janne, Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms (June 13, 2013). IEB Working Paper N. 2013/032. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2340401 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2340401

Tuukka Saarimaa (Contact Author)

Aalto University - School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
AALTO, FI-00076
Finland

Aalto University - School of Engineering ( email )

PO BOX 14100
Aalto 00076
Finland

Janne Tukiainen

VATT Institute for Economic Research ( email )

Arkadiankatu 7
P.O Box 1279
Helsinki, FIN-00101
Finland

University of Turku - Turku School of Business - Department of Economics ( email )

Rehtorinpellonkatu 3
Turku, 20014
Finland

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