The “paradox of choice” and (de)centralization of electoral intraparty competition: A worldwide comparative analysis of 29 countries (1994-2023)

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In many democracies across the world, members of parliament are elected under list PR systems. Voters are asked to cast a vote for a party list, and to mark preferences within those lists about the candidates they want to see elected. Yet, the detailed rules for preference voting greatly vary across countries. In particular, there exist differences regarding how many preference votes that voters are allowed to cast (from 1 to as many as district magnitude), as well as the number of candidates that voters can support. We do not know exactly how these rules affect the nature of intraparty competition (i.e. competition between candidates within lists). The general expectation is that widening voters’ freedom of choices, by allowing to cast preference votes among a large range of candidates, would lead to decentralized electoral intraparty competition (H1). Top list leaders do not dominate such elections and must share power with other candidates that gained some public support. On the opposite, following the literature in social psychology (the “paradox of choice”), it could also be argued that “too many choices kill the choice”. Assessing the profiles of a large set of candidates according to a voter’s preference requires complex and costly information-seeking behaviour. Instead, voters would simply opt for ‘simpler’ behaviour by casting a few votes to prominent and well-known candidates. This would lead to a centralization of electoral competition (H2). The present contribution tests these two competing hypotheses by analysing 131 elections across 29 countries worldwide over 30 years.
langue originaleFrançais
Nombre de pages20
Etat de la publicationPublié - 2 déc. 2024
Evénement12th edition of the conference Belgium: The state of the federation - University of Liège, Liège, Belgique
Durée: 1 févr. 20241 févr. 2024

Comité scientifique

Comité scientifique12th edition of the conference Belgium: The state of the federation
La villeLiège

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