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Coalition-Targeted Duvergerian Voting: How Expectations Affect Voter Choice under Proportional Representation


  • INES data can be downloaded from Accompanying materials can be found at An earlier version of the article was presented at the 2007 and 2008 annual meetings of the Midwest Political Science Association. We thank Fany Yuval for her insightful comments on an early draft of the manuscript. We are also grateful to Renan Levine, Meredith Rolfe, Chris Wendt, and Adam Ziegfeld for their helpful comments on the manuscript. We greatly benefited from comments by Larry Bartels, Ken Benoit, Guy Ben-Porat, André Blais, Ray Duch, Indridi Indridason, Sara Binzer Hobolt, Thomas Gschwend, Jeffrey Karp, Michael Marsh, Walter Mebane, Dan Miodownik, Lilach Nir, Gideon Rahat, Michael Robbins, Randy Stevenson, Raanan Sulitzeanu-Kenan, Cees van der Eijk, Jack Vowles, participants in the Work in Progress speaker series at MIT; Voters and Coalition Governments conference at the University of Mannheim; Voters, Coalitions, and Democratic Accountability conference at the University of Exeter; and three anonymous reviewers. Thanks to Gur Huberman. Part of the study was conducted when Kedar was a VATAT fellow in the Department of Political Science at Tel Aviv University. She gratefully acknowledges their hospitality and financial support. Any errors or omissions are the authors' sole responsibility.

Matias A. Bargsted is a PhD candidate in political science at the University of Michigan, 5700 Haven Hall, 505 South State Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1045 ( Orit Kedar is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, E53-429, Cambridge, MA 02139 (


Inspired by analyses of majoritarian systems, students of consensual polities have analyzed strategic voting due to barriers to party success, namely, district magnitude and threshold. Given the prevalence of coalition governments in proportional systems, we analyze a type of strategic voting seldom studied: how expected coalition composition affects voter choice. We identify Duvergerian behavior by voters targeted at the coalition formation stage. We contend that when voters perceive their preferred party as unlikely to participate in the coalition, they often desert it and instead support the lesser of evils among those they perceive as viable coalition partners. We demonstrate our argument using data on coalition expectations from the 2006 Israeli elections. We find an appreciable albeit differential effect of coalition expectations on voter choice. Importantly, results hold controlling for ideological and coalition preferences. Lastly, we explore a broad cross-national comparison, showing that there is less, not more, proximity voting where coalitions are prevalent.

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