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Partisan districting and the adoption of proportional representation: gerrymandering and its discontents


Emmenegger, Patrick; Walter, André (2023). Partisan districting and the adoption of proportional representation: gerrymandering and its discontents. European Political Science Review:1-20.

Abstract

Electoral engineering strategies in majoritarian electoral systems, in particular the possibility to contain insurgent parties by manipulating electoral districts for partisan gain, are key determinants of parties’ positions on the adoption of proportional representation (PR). Providing both qualitative and quantitative evidence, this paper demonstrates that partisan districting can be an effective strategy to protect incumbent parties’ dominant political positions. In addition, it shows how insurgent parties push for the adoption of PR to end the practice of partisan districting. Finally, it demonstrates that incumbents – in the face of increasing electoral threats – cling to the existing majoritarian system if partisan districting allows them to influence vote-seat distortions in their favor. Together, these findings suggest that the possibility to contain insurgent parties by means of partisan districting is an important but overlooked alternative to the adoption of PR. Moreover, by demonstrating that vote-seat distortions moderate the relationship between district-level electoral threats and legislators’ support for PR adoption, this paper offers an important corrective to Stein Rokkan’s influential electoral threat thesis.

Abstract

Electoral engineering strategies in majoritarian electoral systems, in particular the possibility to contain insurgent parties by manipulating electoral districts for partisan gain, are key determinants of parties’ positions on the adoption of proportional representation (PR). Providing both qualitative and quantitative evidence, this paper demonstrates that partisan districting can be an effective strategy to protect incumbent parties’ dominant political positions. In addition, it shows how insurgent parties push for the adoption of PR to end the practice of partisan districting. Finally, it demonstrates that incumbents – in the face of increasing electoral threats – cling to the existing majoritarian system if partisan districting allows them to influence vote-seat distortions in their favor. Together, these findings suggest that the possibility to contain insurgent parties by means of partisan districting is an important but overlooked alternative to the adoption of PR. Moreover, by demonstrating that vote-seat distortions moderate the relationship between district-level electoral threats and legislators’ support for PR adoption, this paper offers an important corrective to Stein Rokkan’s influential electoral threat thesis.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:Political Science and International Relations, Sociology and Political Science
Language:English
Date:31 August 2023
Deposited On:14 Sep 2023 14:59
Last Modified:30 Mar 2024 04:39
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN:1755-7739
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1017/s1755773923000267
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)