Coordination between electoral arenas in multilevel countries


Ignacio Lago, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Departament de Ciències Polítiques i Socials, Ramon Trias Fargas 25-27, E-08005 Barcelona, Spain. Tel.: +34 93 542 2371; Fax: +34 93 542 2266; E-mail:


This article shows the existence of a coordination dilemma in multilevel countries that hold elections for different parliaments, at different territorial levels and with different electoral rules. With evidence from Spain, the analysis identifies interaction or contamination effects between national and subnational electoral arenas that generate, just as in most mixed-member electoral systems, a centrifugal force that increases the number of electoral parties in national elections. The incentives that solve this coordination dilemma faced by small regional or local parties are theoretically discussed and empirically tested.