Open or Closed? How List Type Affects Electoral Performance, Candidate Selection, and Campaign Effort

VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 120, 2019

63 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2019 Last revised: 25 Jul 2019

See all articles by Dominik Hangartner

Dominik Hangartner

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE); Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

Nelson A. Ruiz

University of Oxford

Janne Tukiainen

VATT Institute for Economic Research; University of Turku - Turku School of Business - Department of Economics

Date Written: July 12, 2019

Abstract

What effect does using open (as opposed to closed) lists in proportional representation elections have on party performance and the quality of candidate selection? We provide novel evidence by studying local elections in Colombia, where parties have discretion to field either open or closed lists. Using panel data covering the 1,100 Colombian municipalities for the 2003–2015 period, we leverage within-party, within-municipality, and over-time variation to identify the effect of ballot structure. We find that the adoption of open list dramatically increases parties’ vote and seat shares. Semi-structured interviews with a representative sample of candidates reveal that parties that use closed list struggle to attract high-quality candidates and to incentivize them to campaign. Consistent with these mechanisms, our statistical analyses confirm that open-list candidates are more experienced, more engaged in their constituencies and campaigns, and less likely to have committed election fraud in the past.

Keywords: Electoral Systems, Ballot Structure, Closed vs Open Party List, Political Selection

JEL Classification: C23, D72

Suggested Citation

Hangartner, Dominik and Ruiz, Nelson and Tukiainen, Janne, Open or Closed? How List Type Affects Electoral Performance, Candidate Selection, and Campaign Effort (July 12, 2019). VATT Institute for Economic Research Working Papers 120, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3418767 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3418767

Dominik Hangartner (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )

Departments of Government and Methodology
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Stanford Immigration Policy Lab

30 Alta Road
Stanford, CA 94305
United States

Nelson Ruiz

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

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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