DP4226 How do Electoral Rules Shape Party Structures, Government Coalitions and Economic Policies?

Author(s): Torsten Persson, Gérard Roland, Guido Tabellini
Publication Date: February 2004
Keyword(s): coalition governments, electoral accountability, electoral rules, fiscal policy, party systems
JEL(s): D72, D78, H00
Programme Areas: International Macroeconomics, Public Economics, Transition Economics, Institutions and Economic Performance
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4226

We present a theoretical model of a parliamentary democracy, where party structures, government coalitions and fiscal policies are endogenously determined. The model predicts that, relative to proportional elections, majoritarian elections reduce government spending because they reduce party fragmentation and, therefore, the incidence of coalition governments. Party fragmentation can persist under majoritarian rule if party supporters are unevenly distributed across electoral districts. Economic and political data, from up to 50 post-war parliamentary democracies, strongly support our joint predictions from the electoral rule, to the party system, to the type of government, and to government spending.