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Coevolution of capitalism and political representation: the choice of electoral systems

Cusack, Thomas, Iversen, Torben and Soskice, David (2010) Coevolution of capitalism and political representation: the choice of electoral systems. American Political Science Review, 104 (02). pp. 393-403. ISSN 0003-0554

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Identification Number: 10.1017/S0003055410000134


ProtocorporatistWest European countries in which economic interests were collectively organized adopted PR in the first quarter of the twentieth century, whereas liberal countries in which economic interests were not collectively organized did not. Political parties, as Marcus Kreuzer points out, choose electoral systems. So how do economic interests translate into party political incentives to adopt electoral reform?We argue that parties in protocorporatist countries were “representative” of and closely linked to economic interests. As electoral competition in singlemember districts increased sharply up to World War I, great difficulties resulted for the representative parties whose leaders were seen as interest committed. They could not credibly compete for votes outside their interest without leadership changes or reductions in interest influence. Proportional representation offered an obvious solution, allowing parties to target their own voters and their organized interest to continue effective influence in the legislature. In each respect, the opposite was true of liberal countries. Data on party preferences strongly confirm this model. (Kreuzer’s historical criticisms are largely incorrect, as shown in detail in the online supplementary Appendix.)

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2010 American Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2012 08:33
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2024 04:03

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