Talk: “Party Competition and Institutional Protection: Explaining Electoral System Stability and Change in Parliamentary Democracies”
by Dr. Esra İşsever-Ekinci, Postdoctoral Researcher in the ERC Advanced Grant project “Twice as Hard, Half as Good? Women Candidates’ Experience of Sexism on the Campaign Trail” (TWICEASGOOD) at Koç University.
Abstract: Most accounts of electoral system reforms focus on the successfully implemented reforms to explain how the electoral context shapes the incentives of political parties leading them to change the voting system. These studies treat electoral reform as one political process and attribute successful reforms to the existence of pro-reform preferences. However, there are many instances wherein governing parties express a preference for an alternative electoral system, even propose electoral reform bills, but fail to realize a successful reform. For a complete analysis of electoral reforms, this paper conceptualizes the electoral reform process as having two distinct stages: reform initiation and reform enactment. In the first stage, I model electoral reforms as driven by strategic calculations of the ruling party whose preferences about alternative electoral systems are shaped by the dynamics of the party competition. I specifically focus on the impact of small parties on the competition between the largest two parties and develop different scenarios of permissive and restrictive reforms. This novel account expects that the ruling party initiates an electoral reform depending on whether small or new parties draw votes from its vote base or from that of its main competitor in the election. In the second stage, I examine how institutional protection, the legislative power of government and the reform type interact to determine the success of electoral reform attempts. I test the hypotheses by using an original dataset of cross-national electoral reform attempts in 32 parliamentary democracies between 1945 and 2015. The findings of the study support the main hypotheses. I find that ruling parties are more likely to initiate a restrictive electoral reform when small parties draw votes from its vote base, but a permissive one when small parties draw more votes from its main competitor in the election. The success of electoral reforms, in turn, depends on the constitutional protection that electoral systems have and the type of reform attempts.
Author bio: Esra Issever-Ekinci is a postdoctoral researcher in the ERC Advanced Grant project “Twice as Hard, Half as Good? Women Candidates’ Experience of Sexism on the Campaign Trail” (TWICEASGOOD) at Koç University. Her research focuses on political institutions and electoral politics. More specifically, she studies electoral systems and their effects and reforms, party systems, legislative behavior, and women’s representation. Her work has been published in Politics and Gender, and West European Politics.
Room Info: A-130
Thursday, June 1, 2023, 12:30 p.m.