29 July 2005

How PR leads to more centre-left govts and more equal societies.

To a very considerable extent, redistribution is the result of electoral systems and the class coalitions they engender...

Electoral systems matter because they alter the bargaining power and coalition behaviour of groups with different interests.

In majoritarian systems, parties have to balance the incentive to capture the median voter with the incentive to pursue the policy preferred by their core constituencies. Because the median voter tends to be closer to the distributive interests of the centre-right party, any probability that parties will defect from their electoral platform once elected will tend to make the median voter more likely to vote for the centre right.

This result contrasts to multi-party PR systems where middle class parties have to compromise with left or right parties to govern. In this context centre parties will find it in their own interests to ally with the left. This result follows when in addition to flat rate benefits, there are means tested tranfers, because the middle class can then use the latter to bargain a tax rate closer to their preference while placing the burden of redistribution on the rich.

For the full paper click here.


  1. Yes! I think that's all I need to say.

  2. Cheers!

    Just like to say, you have a link to the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy on your site. Much as I admire much of the CLPD aims, we need to persuade them of the need for PR. They are implacably opposed at the moment and I really don't understand why.

    Their influence could probably tip the balance in favour of PR within Labour, if they changed their view.

  3. I must say it sounded a bit strange at first (and I'll attempt to read the whole article) but it looks interesting.

    I'd say I was generally for PR, but I don't think it's a cure-all.

  4. Glad you are interested B4L. Totally agree its not a cure-all, in fact an unbiased media is probably more important, but PR does make a big difference!