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Keywords:

  • ideological congruence;
  • electoral institutions

Abstract

Two new studies challenge the prevailing consensus that proportional representation (PR) systems produce greater ideological congruence between governments and their citizens than majoritarian ones. This has led to what has become known as the ‘ideological congruence controversy’. G. Bingham Powell claims to resolve this controversy in favour of PR systems. Specifically, he argues that the results from the two new studies are based on an anomalous decade and that PR systems generally do produce greater government congruence. In addition, he also asserts that PR systems exhibit less variability in government congruence. In this article, the empirical evidence for these two claims is re-evaluated using exactly the same data as employed by Powell. The analysis indicates that although PR systems produce better and more consistent representation in the legislature, they do not hold an advantage when it comes to representation at the governmental level.