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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Electoral institutions and information shortcuts : the effect of decisive intraparty competition on the behavior of voters and party elites

  • Author(s): Valdini, Melody Ellis
  • et al.

We know that information shortcuts are used by voters, but what affects the cues that voters will take and parties will give? I examine this question through an analysis of voter and party behavior under different electoral systems, and in elections that occur in post-corruption environments. One electoral rule in particular is the focus of this dissertation: the decisive intraparty preference vote. I argue that an electoral system that includes the decisive intraparty preference vote creates an incentive for voters to rely upon cues drawn from specific candidate traits. Further, I argue that party elites anticipate and respond to this voter behavior through varying the types of candidates selected for the party lists, and thus that the traits of candidates nominated to represent the parties will vary by electoral system. Additionally, I argue that an electoral environment of corruption changes the polarity of certain cues, but that the effect of the corruption and resulting polarity switch is, in part, determined by the electoral system. My theories are tested using hypotheses that employ the predicted outcomes for women's representation. If voters are using information shortcuts as I predict, and if these shortcuts have the effects on candidates and parties that I predict, then this behavior should be reflected in the percentage of women on the party lists and in the respective legislatures. Thus, I test my theories using cross-national, cross-temporal regression analyses of the percentage of women legislators and candidates in European states, as well as through case study analyses of the representation of women in the legislatures of Ireland and Spain. My findings confirm that the decisive intraparty preference vote creates an incentive for voters to rely upon trait-based information shortcuts, and further, that this reliance has a negative impact on the representation of women in legislatures

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