Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Research Institute of Industrial Economics

No 1002: Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden

Olle Folke (), Torsten Persson () and Johanna Rickne ()
Additional contact information
Olle Folke: Columbia University, Postal: and Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN)
Torsten Persson: Institute for International Economic Studies, Postal: Stockholm University
Johanna Rickne: SOFI, Stockholm University, Postal: and Columbia University

Abstract: Preferential voting has been introduced in a number of proportional election systems over the last 20 years, mainly as a means to increase the accountability of individual politicians. But most of these reforms have been criticized as blatant failures. In this paper, we discover a genuinely new fact, which calls into question this negative evaluation. We show that preferential voting in a general election can operate as a stand-in internal primary election for top party positions. To do this, we rely on a unique data set from four waves of Swedish local elections, which includes every nominated politician in each of 290 municipal assemblies. We use a natural-experiment (regression-discontinuity) approach to estimate the causal effect of winning the most preferential votes on becoming the local party leader, and find that narrow "list winners" are over 50 percent more likely to become party leaders than their runner-ups. Comparing across politicians, the effect of list winning is the strongest for competent politicians, who are also more likely to draw preferential votes than mediocre politicians. Comparing across municipalities, the response to narrow list winning is the strongest within unthreatened governing majorities, where voters also use the preferential vote the most frequently.

Keywords: Preferential Voting; Accountability; Regression Discontinuity Design

JEL-codes: H70

32 pages, January 17, 2014

Full text files

wp1002.pdf PDF-file 

Download statistics

Questions (including download problems) about the papers in this series should be directed to Elisabeth Gustafsson ()
Report other problems with accessing this service to Sune Karlsson ().

This page generated on 2018-01-23 23:34:45.