Presentation Title
Electoral systems and programmatic parties: The institutional underpinnings of parties’ ideological cohesion
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296 Gibson

University of Chicago.

Co-authored with Royce Carroll from University of Essex.

What are the incentives for party ideological cohesion created by electoral systems?
In this paper, we argue that the answer relies on whether party leaders have incentives
to recruit for cohesion rather than relying on sheer discipline in producing voting unity.
We use a formal model to distinguish between the control over rank held by leaders
within list systems, with the main distinction made between open (OLPR) and closed
lists (CLPR). Under OLPR, vote contributions are transparent, which gives members
leverage against the leadership in resisting discipline. In CLPR, the contribution of
the member to the list’s vote is not directly observable and therefore allows lower
costs to discipline. We show that, because discipline is costlier in OLPR, leaders that
value voting unity are forced to recruit for cohesion. Meanwhile in CLPR, leaders
can achieve unity by relying on discipline. To the extent that programmatic parties
are more likely to form on the basis of cohesive parties, OLPR offers better prospects
for programmatic party development than CLPR. Our results explain the puzzling
patterns of party ideological cohesion in European parliamentary systems measured
with two different expert surveys (CHES and DALP).
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