Local Representation and Voter Mobilization in Closed-list Proportional Representation Systems

55 Pages Posted: 4 Sep 2019 Last revised: 10 Aug 2020

See all articles by Jon H. Fiva

Jon H. Fiva

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Economics

Askill Harkjerr Halse

University of Oslo; Institute of Transport Economics

Daniel M. Smith

Harvard University - Department of Government

Date Written: June 16, 2020

Abstract

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

Fiva, Jon H. and Halse, Askill Harkjerr and Smith, Daniel M., Local Representation and Voter Mobilization in Closed-list Proportional Representation Systems (June 16, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3447662 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3447662

Jon H. Fiva

Norwegian School of Management (BI) - Department of Economics ( email )

Oslo
Norway

Askill Harkjerr Halse

University of Oslo ( email )

PO Box 6706 St Olavs plass
Oslo, N-0317
Norway

Institute of Transport Economics ( email )

NO-0349
Oslo
Norway

Daniel M. Smith (Contact Author)

Harvard University - Department of Government ( email )

1737 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.google.com/site/danielmarkhamsmith

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