The Consequences of Electoral Institutions for Careerism

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Abstract

Although electoral institutions have been shown to have a variety of effects, scholars have not investigated if certain voting rules enable politicians to enjoy longer legislative careers. I took advantage of a natural experiment—a sudden transition from a semiproportional voting rule to single-member districts with plurality voting (SMDP)—to measure the effect of electoral institutions on careerism. My analysis revealed that voting rules have a profound influence on the dynamics of legislative careers: politicians elected under SMDP are far less likely to suffer electoral defeat or to retire than those elected via cumulative voting. The findings of this study not only provide additional insight into the seat safety of politicians elected in first-past-the-post systems, but moreover offer new criteria by which to evaluate the choice of electoral institutions.

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