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In this book, Professor Cox views electoral laws as posing a variety of coordination problems that political actors must solve. Under plurality rule, for example, not every leftist aspirant for the presidency can run at once, if the Left is to have a good chance of winning.
But although all leftists will benefit from unify- ing behind a single candidate, they may not agree on which candidate that should be. Analogous coordination problems - and with them the necessity of negotiating withdrawals, strategic voting, and other species of strategic coordination - arise in all electoral systems.
Although the classics of electoral studies have dealt with issues of coordination, this is the first book that employs a unified game-theoret- ic model to study strategic coordination worldwide and that relies pri- marily on constituency-level rather than national aggregate data in test- ing theoretical propositions about the effects of electoral laws. This is also the first book that considers not just what happens when political forces succeed in solving the coordination problems inherent in the elec- toral system they face but also what happens when they fail.
Alt, Harvard University Douglass C. North, Washington University of St. Alston, Thrainn Eggertsson, and Douglass C. Alt and Kenneth Shepsle, eds.
Banks and Eric A. McCubbins and Terry Sullivan, eds. Cox This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. The scope of the series is comparative and historical rather than international or specifically American, and the focus is posi- tive rather than normative.
Gary Cox has written a superb, wide-ranging theoretical analysis of the consequences of electoral systems for the way governments are cho- sen by the mass of citizens. Rooted firmly in the "transaction benefits" theory of political institutions, which holds that a role of institutions is to prevent some collective choices from arising, or otherwise limit the number of enforceable policy outcome, Cox shows how a range of elec- toral institutions affect the extent and ease with which voters can coor- dinate or form electoral coalitions to provide outcomes or opportuni- ties for transacting that improve on their status quo, but would not hap- pen in the absence of these electoral institutions.
In the coalitional equi- libria he describes, voters make their votes count by controlling the num- ber of candidates. But the emphasis everywhere is on synthesis, general- ization, and unification of theory. Results apply to coalitions whether they are explicitly negotiated by elites or voluntarily coordinated by elec- tors via strategic voting and convergent expectations about the strength of candidates. An unprecedentedly wide range of real-world electoral systems is classified by alliance structure and district structure with respect to the extent to which they facilitate coordination.
Duverger's conjectures about the relationships between strategic voting, the propor- tionality of representation, and the number of effective competitors or parties are reexamined. The research also offers many new proposals about strategic entry and exit of parties, as well as the election of execu- tives in fostering or impeding coordination at the national level.
It sets a standard and a challenge for future compara- tive empirical research on electoral systems. I assume that readers are familiar with the concept of a coordination game. Those who are not, and are not satisfied with the brief description given below, may wish to consult Lewis , Schelling , or other sources. The basic idea of a coordination game is simple enough and can be conveyed by considering a classic illustrative game, the Battle of the Sexes.
In this game, a man and a woman must independently choose whether to attend a prize fight or a ballet performance. The man prefers the prize fight to the ballet, while the woman has opposite preferences.
Both, however, are primarily concerned with having each other's compa- ny, so that each prefers going to their dispreferred entertainment with their partner to going to their preferred entertainment alone. Cultural stereotypes aside, this venerable example lays bare the essence of a coordination problem. The players in the game would pre- fer to coordinate their actions on some one of two or more possibilities but they disagree over which of these possibilities ought to be the one on which they coordinate.
There is thus an admixture of common and divergent interests, and the possibility of both successful coordination to the relative advantage of one or more of the players over the others and failed coordination to the disadvantage of all.
Other than a familiarity with the notion of coordination, I make rel- atively few assumptions about the reader's background.
Doubtless those who are already familiar with electoral studies will find parts of the book easier to follow than those not so familiar. But Chapter 3 of the book gives a self-contained introduction to electoral rules and regulations for those who have not previously considered these matters. Doubtless too those who do not know game theory will find the proofs in Appendix B pretty unintelligible. This work has benefited from the generosity and insight of a number of scholars. Tom Palfrey and Roger Myerson provided exceptionally valuable comments on some of the papers upon which the book builds.
Andre Blais, Ray Christensen, Skip Lupia, Bing Powell, and Matthew Shugart - along with several anonymous reviewers - read the whole of an early draft and provided detailed comments that helped greatly to improve the final product. Too many people for me to recall have helped by providing leads to interesting web sites, confirmation of suspicious facts, or ideas about where to look next - but I should mention at least Kathy Bawn, Arend Lijphart, Shaheen Mozaffar, Andy Reynolds, Ron Rogowski, and Matthew Shugart.
Finally, several people with whom I have coauthored will find pieces of their work embodied here and there in the text but I should mention in particular Octavio Amorim Neto, as Chapter 11 is but a slightly reworked version of our published work together. Various people have lent invaluable advice and aid in the process of preparing the final manuscript and shepherding it through the editorial process. I thank all these sources and also the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation for awarding me a Fellowship, during the course of which I completed the manuscript.
Finally, I thank my wife, Diane Lin, and son, Dylan, for their moral support, encouragement, and persistent ability to keep academic endeav- ors in proper perspective. Mondale was the front-runner for the Democratic nod. Democratic voters who knew that they disliked Mondale faced a coordination problem: If all of them could agree on a single alternative to Mondale, from among the half- dozen or so candidates languishing in single digits in the opinion polls, they could conceivably deny Mondale the nomination; but if they failed to agree on a single alternative, then Mondale would almost surely win.
Although anti-Mondale Democrats shared a dislike of Mondale, they dif- fered substantially in their preferred alternative.
Thus, even putting aside the complexities of the American primary process, it was by no means clear ex ante that anti-Mondale Democrats could coordinate on an alter- native.
In the event, although Gary Hart emerged as the focal alternative to Mondale and enjoyed a large and rapid run-up in the polls, his candi- dacy faltered and Mondale secured the nomination. Early in the presidential campaign in Peru, it was clear that Nobel Prize-winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa was the front-runner. Peruvian voters who knew that they disliked Vargas Llosa faced a coor- dination problem: If all of them could agree on a single alternative to Vargas Llosa from among the half-dozen or so candidates trailing in the polls, they could conceivably deny Vargas Llosa the presidency; but if they failed to agree on a single alternative, then Vargas Llosa would almost surely win.
Although anti-Vargas Llosa voters shared a dislike of Vargas Llosa, they differed substantially in their preferred alternative. Thus, it was by no means clear ex ante that anti-Vargas Llosa Peruvians could coordinate on an alternative.
In the event, Alberto Fujimori rock- eted from obscurity late in the campaign to become the focal anti-Vargas Llosa candidate, securing a strong second-place finish in the first round of voting, then defeating Vargas Llosa in the runoff Schmidt N. Introduction These two examples illustrate several general features of electoral coordination: the mixture of common and opposed interests; the possi- bility of success or failure; and the rapidity with which vote intentions change when coordination takes off.
The examples' focus on strategic voting in presidential elections is too limited, however. Modern repre- sentative democracy presents at its core a series of coordination prob- lems that arise as natural consequences of electoral competition for gov- ernmental offices. A group with enough votes to elect some number of candidates in a given legislative or executive race will in fact elect that number only if it can make its votes count by concentrating them appro- priately.
One way to avoid spreading votes too thinly is to limit the num- ber of candidates. But which potential candidates, representing what shades of opinion, will withdraw in favor of which others? If attempts to limit the number of candidates fail, another chance to make votes count arises on polling day, when voters can concentrate their votes on a sub- set of the available candidates.
But which candidates will bear the brunt of strategic voting and which will be its beneficiaries? This is a book about strategic coordination broadly conceived, cover- ing both legislative and executive elections, both strategic entry and strategic voting.
It investigates the consequences of strategic coordina- tion and those structural features that determine the nature of the coor- dination problems that political actors face in differing polities.
The consequences of strategic coordination. Successful electoral coor- dination reduces the number of electoral competitors. When leftist elites agree to join together into a single leftist party, rather than continuing with some larger number, there are fewer parties nominating fewer legislative candidates. If leftist elites do not coordinate their endorsements sufficient- ly, leftist voters may complete the coalition that the elites tried but failed to form, by deserting one of the leftist candidates for the other s.
In the process they decrease the effective or vote-weighted number of candidates. The notion of an "effective number of parties," due to Laakso and Taagepera , is one attempt to count "real" candidates. Introduction technical standards is just a matter of reducing the number of such stan- dards. When writers of software programs agree on standards compati- ble with Microsoft's operating system, this does reduce the sales-weight- ed number of operating systems, and may even lead to the withdrawal of some operating systems from the market.
But, in addition, there are some winners Microsoft; those who like PCs and some losers Apple; those who like Macintoshes.
Similarly, when leftist opinion leaders agree to rally around Socialist Party A's candidates, rather than around Socialist Party B's, this does reduce the vote-weighted number of parties, and it may even lead to the disappearance of B from political competition. But, in addition to any gain of seats that the unified socialists may accrue as a whole, there are some relative winners party A; those who prefer its policies and losers party B; those who prefer its policies.
To put the point more starkly: Successful electoral coordination necessarily involves a reduction in the number of competitors; but such a reduction just as necessarily entails a selection of which competitors will survive, and this selection potentially has important policy effects. In this book, I shall consider both the reductive and the redistributive effects of electoral coordination. The reductive effect of strategic coordi- nation is most evident when it succeeds, the redistributive effect most evi- dent when it fails - as will be seen.
The nature of the electoral coordination problem. As regards what determines the nature of the coordination problem that arises in any given system, I shall be principally concerned with three main indepen- dent variables: electoral institutions, political motivations, and public expectations.
The importance of the first of these factors - electoral insti- tutions - has been alternately asserted and dismissed since Duverger's seminal work in the s Duverger Here, electoral institutions - which determine the available opportunities for trading votes in order to win more seats - are taken as largely defining the coordination game that elites and voters must play. Electoral institutions are not the whole story, however. A second part of the strategic situation is defined by the preferences of the elite and mass actors who must coordinate.
If leftists care mostly about policy, and hate each other's policies almost as much as they hate the current government's, then there is little incentive for them to coordinate their actions, even if by so doing they could win more seats. If leftists care sub- stantially about future elections, then it may be a good strategy to play tough in the early rounds, enduring a series of coordination failures in the hopes of emerging eventually as the leftist party.
Finally, expectations are crucial in any game of coordination, and electoral coordination is no different. If B has opposite beliefs, there is no room for the elites to resolve the coordination problem on the Left.
As for the voters, if poll results clearly reveal that A's candidates are ahead, then B's supporters will more likely desert to A than the reverse.
"Making Votes Count" Abstract
Gary W. Popular elections are at the heart of representative democracy. Thus, understanding the laws and practices that govern such elections is essential to understanding modern democracy. In this book, Professor Cox views electoral laws as posing a variety of coordination problems that political actors must solve. Under plurality rule, for example, not every leftist aspirant for the presidency can run at once, if the Left is to have a good chance of winning. But although all leftists will benefit from unifying behind a single candidate, they may not agree on which candidate that should be.
Making Votes Count : Strategic Coordination in the World's Electoral Systems