Literacy, Information, and Party System Fragmentation in India
Comparative Political Studies, Forthcoming
58 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017 Last revised: 5 Jun 2017
Date Written: February 16, 2017
A rich theoretical literature argues that, in contradiction to the Duverger’s law, the plurality voting rule can fail to produce two-party system when voters do not share common information about the electoral situation. We present an empirical operationalization and a series of tests of this informational hypothesis in the case of India using constituency- and individual-level data. In highly illiterate constituencies where access to information and information-sharing among voters is low, voters often fail to coordinate on the two most viable parties. In highly literate constituencies, voters are far more successful at avoiding vote-wasting – in line with the informational hypothesis. At a micro-level, these aggregate-level patterns are driven by the interaction of individual information and the informational context: in dense informational environments, even low-information voters can successfully identify viable parties and vote for them, but in sparse informational environments, individual access to information is essential for successful strategic voting.
Keywords: strategic voting, Duverger, information, India, literacy
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