English title: Institutional Context and Representational Strain in Party–Voter Agreement in Western and Eastern Europe

Author(s): Robert Rohrschneider - Stephen Whitefield -

Language: English

Type: Journal article

Year: 2012

Abstract

Theories of electoral institutions and representation suggest that majoritarian and proportional systems will produce distinct patterns of party–voter congruence, with the centripetal incentives of the former pulling parties to the ideological centre and reducing, by comparison with the latter, congruence with voters to the right and left. Recent scholarship, however, has found little contemporary empirical evidence for this pattern but no satisfactory explanation has been advanced to account for these non-findings. This paper develops a new theoretical account of the impact of electoral institutions on congruence that takes into account the increasingly dealigned character of voters. The central argument is that the impact of institutions is conditional on the balance between partisans and independents in the electorate. It is this conditional nature of the influence that seems to account for the absence of the anticipated relationship of institutions to congruence nowadays. This theory is tested using a unique data set of party positions in 24 European states and its consequences are drawn out for the relative representational effectiveness of electoral systems in contemporary conditions.

Volume: 35

Issue: 6

From page no: 1320

To page no: 1340

Refereed: Yes

DOI: 10.1080/01402382.2012.713748

Journal: West European Politics