Plurality versus Proportional Representation: An Analysis of Sicilian Elections
Temple University - Department of Strategic Management
University of Messina - Institute of Economics and Finance; London School of Economics & Political Science - CPNSS
University of Buckingham
Public Choice, Vol. 86, No. 3-4, pp. 341-357, March 1996
The competing merits of plurality and proportional representation have intrigued political economists and political scientists for quite some time. Of primary interest is whether one or the other system is better in serving the interests of the electorate. Since theoreticians are unable to unambiguously determine the answer to this question, the issue must ultimately be decided empirically.
We use data from Sicilian elections, where the system was recently altered towards the system of plurality. We are able to demonstrate that the proportional representation system engenders greater information among voters and elicits greater commitment from them than plurality. We are also able to show that in larger towns increased information causes a more dispersed vote under a proportional representation system; further, this result does not hold under plurality. This may have some implications for the size of positional rents reaped by political parties under the two electoral systems.
Keywords: Elections, plurality, proportional representation
JEL Classification: D72, D71, H11
Date posted: November 2, 2004