Strategic adaptation to new electoral systems


Peter Selb, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Konstanz, D-78457 Konstanz, Germany. E-mail:


How quickly, to what extent and under what conditions do voters and elites adapt to new electoral institutions in order to not waste their votes and effort on hopeless competitors? A latent-curve model of strategic adaptation is developed and fitted to district-level election data from Spain. The extent of strategic adaptation is generally found to vary with the strength of the electoral system. However, grave ethnic tensions are demonstrated to seriously retard adaptation even under favourable institutional conditions.