Institutionalisation of Political Parties: Comparative Cases. Edited by Robert Harmel and Lars G. Svasand

To Waste or Not to Waste a Vote?

Comparative Politics
European Politics
Philipp Harfst
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Philipp Harfst
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
André Blais
Université de Montréal

Based on mechanical effects that translate into psychological effects, electoral systems, and especially district magnitude (M), are said to inflict strategic voting. Voters are assumed to coordinate on M+1 viable candidates in order to minimise the risk of wasting their vote. This is most obvious in single-member districts with only one winning candidate. Cox predicts that coordination should also occur in multi-member constituencies, even though he expects voters’ capacity to coordinate to phase out with increasing district magnitude. 14 pre-election surveys conducted in six countries, asking voters for their preferred party, for their evaluation of the chances of individual parties/candidates to be elected, and for the party they will vote for allow to analyse this capacity in detail.
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"The less the power, the greater the desire to exercise it" - Bernard Levin

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