Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden

33 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2014

See all articles by Olle Folke

Olle Folke

Uppsala University - Department of Government

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES); London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Johanna Karin Rickne

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI)

Date Written: January 17, 2014

Abstract

Preferential voting has been introduced in a number of proportional election systems over the last 20 years, mainly as a means to increase the accountability of individual politicians. But most of these reforms have been criticized as blatant failures. In this paper, we discover a genuinely new fact, which calls into question this negative evaluation. We show that preferential voting in a general election can operate as a stand-in internal primary election for top party positions. To do this, we rely on a unique data set from four waves of Swedish local elections, which includes every nominated politician in each of 290 municipal assemblies. We use a natural-experiment (regression-discontinuity) approach to estimate the causal effect of winning the most preferential votes on becoming the local party leader, and find that narrow “list winners” are over 50 percent more likely to become party leaders than their runner-ups. Comparing across politicians, the effect of list winning is the strongest for competent politicians, who are also more likely to draw preferential votes than mediocre politicians. Comparing across municipalities, the response to narrow list winning is the strongest within unthreatened governing majorities, where voters also use the preferential vote the most frequently.

Keywords: Preferential Voting; Accountability; Regression Discontinuity Design

JEL Classification: H70

Suggested Citation

Folke, Olle and Persson, Torsten and Rickne, Johanna Karin, Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden (January 17, 2014). IFN Working Paper No. 1002, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2465890 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2465890

Olle Folke (Contact Author)

Uppsala University - Department of Government ( email )

Scheelevägen 15 D
SE-223 70
Lund
Sweden

Torsten Persson

Stockholm University - Institute for International Economic Studies (IIES) ( email )

Stockholm, SE-10691
Sweden
+46 8 163066 (Phone)
+46 8 164177 (Fax)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Johanna Karin Rickne

Stockholm University - Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) ( email )

Kyrkgatan 43B
SE-106 91 Stockholm
Sweden

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
75
Abstract Views
543
rank
391,943
PlumX Metrics