Local Representation and Strategic Voting: Evidence from Electoral Boundary Reforms

VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers No. 64

50 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2015

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: September 11, 2015

Abstract

We analyze whether voters value local political representation by exploiting municipal mergers, which increase the number of candidates available to voters and intensify political competition. In the Finnish open-list proportional representation system, voters rank the candidates within parties, and thus, concentrating votes to local candidates increases the extent of local representation. Using a difference-in-differences strategy, we find that the vote distributions become more concentrated in municipalities less likely to gain local representation after the mergers. Moreover, the effect is much larger in municipalities where the benefits of local representation to voters are large. The latter result disentangles voters’ responses from the responses of other political actors. The results are important also for designing local government mergers, which are an important policy tool in many countries. They highlight that concerns over deteriorating local democracy due to mergers have merit, because voters have preferences for local representation. At the same time, the vote concentration patterns we find alleviate these concerns.

Keywords: Electoral boundary reform, difference-in-differences, 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 (September 11, 2015). VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers No. 64. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2661303 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2661303

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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