The Duverger-Demsetz Perspective on Electoral Competitiveness and Fragmentation: With Application to the Canadian Parliamentary System, 1867-2011

27 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2016

See all articles by J. Stephen Ferris

J. Stephen Ferris

Carleton University - Department of Economics

Stanley L. Winer

Carleton University - School of Public Policy and Administration; Carleton University - Department of Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine - Department of Politics and Society

Date Written: February 15, 2016

Abstract

We combine Duverger’s Law (1954) with Demsetz’s (1968) theory of natural monopoly to provide a novel perspective on electoral competitiveness in a single member district, plurality rule system. In the framework we develop, competitiveness depends on the contestability of elections, which declines as party fragmentation exceeds the long run level predicted by Duverger’s Law. We provide support for this Duverger-Demsetz perspective by studying the relationship between the concentration of vote shares and a new index of electoral contestability over the history of the Canadian parliamentary system from 1867. Extension of the argument to proportional electoral systems is also considered.

Keywords: electoral competition, economic competition, contestability, volatility adjusted vote margin, safe seats, marginal seats, Duverger, Demsetz

JEL Classification: D700, D400

Suggested Citation

Ferris, J. Stephen and Winer, Stanley L. and Grofman, Bernard, The Duverger-Demsetz Perspective on Electoral Competitiveness and Fragmentation: With Application to the Canadian Parliamentary System, 1867-2011 (February 15, 2016). CESifo Working Paper Series No. 5752, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2747859

J. Stephen Ferris (Contact Author)

Carleton University - Department of Economics ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada

HOME PAGE: http://www.carleton.ca/~sferris/

Stanley L. Winer

Carleton University - School of Public Policy and Administration ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada
613-520-2600 x2630 (Phone)
613-520-2551 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.carleton.ca/winer

Carleton University - Department of Economics ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa, Ontario K1S 5B6
Canada
613-520-2600 ex.2630 (Phone)
613-520-2551 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.carleton.ca/winer

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

Bernard Grofman

University of California, Irvine - Department of Politics and Society ( email )

Irvine, CA 92697-5100
United States
(949) 824-6394, 5361 (Phone)

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