So Closed: Political Selection in Proportional Systems

30 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2015

See all articles by Vincenzo Galasso

Vincenzo Galasso

University of Lugano; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Date Written: March 2015

Abstract

We analyze political selection in a closed list proportional system where parties have strong gate-keeping power, which they use as an instrument to pursue votes. Parties face a trade-off between selecting loyal candidates or experts, who are highly valued by the voters and thus increase the probability of winning the election. Voters can be rational or behavioral. The former care about the quality mix of the elected candidates in the winning party, and hence about the ordering on the party list. The latter only concentrate on the quality type of the candidates in the top positions of the party list. Our theoretical model shows that, to persuade rational voters, parties optimally allocate loyalists to safe seats and experts to uncertain positions. Persuading behavioral voters instead requires to position the experts visibly on top of the electoral list. Our empirical analysis, which uses data from the 2013 National election in Italy - held under closed list proportional representation - and from independent pre-electoral polls, is overall supportive of voters' rational behavior. Loyalists (i.e., party officers or former members of Parliament who mostly voted along party lines) are overrepresented in safe positions, and, within both safe and uncertain positions, they are ranked higher in the list.

Keywords: closed party lists, electoral rule, political selection

JEL Classification: D72, D78, P16

Suggested Citation

Galasso, Vincenzo and Nannicini, Tommaso, So Closed: Political Selection in Proportional Systems (March 2015). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP10514. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2588417

Vincenzo Galasso (Contact Author)

University of Lugano ( email )

Via Giuseppe Buffi 13
Lugano, 6900
Switzerland

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Tommaso Nannicini

Bocconi University - Department of Economics ( email )

Via Gobbi 5
Milan, 20136
Italy

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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