Mechanical and Psychological Effects of Electoral Reform

By Jon H. Fiva and Olle Folke.

Forthcoming in:

British Journal of Political Science.


To understand how electoral reform affects political outcomes, one needs to assess its total effect, incorporating how the reform affects the outcomes given the political status quo (the mechanical effects) and the additional reactions of political agents (the psychological effects). We propose a framework that allows us to ascertain the relative magnitude of mechanical and various psychological effects. The empirical approach is based on pairwise comparisons of actual and counterfactual seat allocation outcomes. We use the design to analyze a nationwide municipal electoral reform in Norway, which changed the seat allocation method from D'Hondt to Modified Sainte-Laguë. We document clear psychological effects.

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Published July 4, 2014 1:22 PM - Last modified Nov. 20, 2017 2:38 PM