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Parties, Legislators, and the Origins of Proportional Representation

Parties, Legislators, and the Origins of Proportional Representation

May 10, 2017 -
11:30am to 1:00pm
Location: 
Encina Hall West, Room 400 (GSL)
Event Speaker: 
Jon Fiva, Professor of Economics, Norwegian Business School
Event Sponsor: 
The Munro Lectureship Fund and The Lane Center
Abstract: 

Conventional wisdom holds that proportional representation (PR) was introduced in many European democracies by conservative parties seeking to preserve their legislative seat shares after franchise extension and industrialization increased the vote base of socialist parties. In contrast to this seat-centered account, we focus on how PR affected party leaders' control over nominations, thereby enabling them to discipline their followers, and facilitating the negotiations needed to form governments. We explore this portfolio-centered account with the case of Norway, using roll call data from six different reform proposals in 1919. We show that party leaders were more likely to vote in favor of adopting PR than rank-and-file members, even controlling for the parties' expected seat payoffs and the district-level socialist electoral threat facing individual legislators. Moreover, using within-legislator variation, we show that the internal cohesion of the major parties increased significantly after the introduction of PR.

Biography: 
Jon Fiva is a Professor of Economics at the Norwegian Business School (BI), also affiliated with ESOP at the University of Oslo. He received his Ph.D. from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 2006.
 
He is currently working on projects quantifying how electoral institutions shape political outcomes, and how political representation impacts public policies.
 
His most recent working paper (with Daniel M. Smith) explores the relationship between the incumbency advantage and the formation of political dynasties in the party-centered, closed-list proportional representation context of Norway.