Recasting Reform: An Analysis of Electoral Reform Initiatives in Fourteen Parliamentary Democracies
While successful electoral system change has received considerable scholarly attention in recent years, comparatively little is known about the vast majority of cases where reform was unsuccessfully attempted or never attempted at all. Yet understanding these outcomes is vital to explaining the phenomenon of electoral reform. This dissertation illuminates the important spectrum of outcomes between stasis (no-change) and successful reform. In doing so, it examines the first step toward any potential voting system change: reform proposals and investigations. It asks how and when governments investigate electoral reform. Do reform investigations follow the same patterns as successful reforms? Using survival analysis of original data from 14 parliamentary democracies, this dissertation tests two complementary sets of hypotheses inspired by empirical studies of successful electoral reform and informed by different theoretical approaches to the study of institutional change. The first is a functionalist argument that suggests reform tends to occurs in order to bring "poorly performing" electoral systems closer to a better-functioning ideal. The second is a path-dependent explanation that emphasizes the self-reinforcing nature of political institutions. The analysis finds that reform is rarely proposed in response to apparent "failures" of the electoral system. Instead, the nature of the party system and the degree of institutional consolidation appear to be far better predictors of reform investigation.
URI for this recordhttp://hdl.handle.net/1974/15893
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