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Electoral Systems, Party Systems, and Ideological Representation: An Analysis of Distortion in Western Democracies

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The effects of party system features and election rules on ideological representation can be seen in parliamentary elections in Western democracies over a fifty-year period. “Distortion” is short-term representation failure—the distance between the median voter and the legislature or government immediately after the election. Electoral choice and left-right positions of parties (from the manifesto data) can be used to estimate median voter positions. The number of parties, party polarization, and the election rules all independently affect ideological distances. But party system polarization seems to be the predominate factor shaping distortion of governments' relationship with the median voter. Examining the effects of party systems under different election rules helps clarify the causal connections between legislative and government levels.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2010

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  • Comparative Politics is an international journal that publishes scholarly articles devoted to the comparative analysis of political institutions and behavior. It was founded in 1968 to further the development of comparative political theory and the application of comparative theoretical analysis to the empirical investigation of political issues. Comparative Politics communicates new ideas and research findings to social scientists, scholars, and students, and is valued by experts in research organizations, foundations, and consulates throughout the world.
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