District magnitude and representation of the majority’s preferences: a comment and reinterpretation
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Drawing on new data that combine recorded votes from the Swiss National Assembly with canton-level referendum results on identical legislative proposals, Portmann et al. (Public Choice 151:585–610, 2012) develop an innovative strategy to identify the effect of district magnitude on the relationship between representatives and their constituents. We replicate PSE’s central result and also estimate a related model that allows for the possibility of non-monotonicity in the relationship between district magnitude and representatives’ deviance from referendum median voters. Our results indicate that representatives elected in low-magnitude multi-member districts deviate from canton-level majorities less than either MPs from single-member districts or those from high-magnitude multi-member districts.
KeywordsRepresentation Electoral systems District magnitude Switzerland
The authors want to express their sincere gratitude to Portmann, Stadelmann, and Eichenberger for their immediate willingness to share data, and for their engagement in a productive exchange of ideas about their research.
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