Local Representation and Voter Mobilization in Closed-list Proportional Representation Systems
55 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2019 Last revised: 10 Aug 2020
Date Written: June 16, 2020
We investigate whether geographic representation affects local voting behavior in closed-list proportional representation (PR) systems, where conventional theoretical wisdom suggests a limited role of localism in voter preferences. Using detailed data on Norwegian parliamentary candidates’ hometowns, we show that parties engage in geographic balancing when constructing candidate lists. However, because most districts contain more municipalities than seats, not all municipalities will ultimately see a local candidate elected. A regression discontinuity design applied to marginal candidates reveals that parties obtain higher within-district support in subsequent elections in incumbents’ hometowns—novel evidence of “friends-and-neighbors” voting in an otherwise party-centered environment. Exploring the mechanisms, we find that represented municipalities often continue to have locally-connected candidates in top positions, in contrast to municipalities with losing candidates, and are more frequently referenced in legislative speeches. There is no evidence that unequal representation creates inequalities in distributive policies.
Keywords: geographic representation, friends-and-neighbors voting, closed-list proportional representation, regression discontinuity design, Norway
JEL Classification: D72
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation