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Norris: Electoral engineering

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Norris. 2004. Electoral engineering: Voting rules and political behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Norris wants to know the effect of X (electoral systems) on Y (cleavage politics).


Cleavage politics. Will a party continue to pander to a narrow base (e.g. labor) or try to expand and become a catch-all party (e.g. Labour)?


  1. (rational choice): In majoritarian countries, parties will seek to become catch-all parties, but in proportional systes, parties can safely stick to a narrow base. Thus: more cleavage politics in proportional systems.
  2. (cultural modernization): It's not electoral rules that matter, it's the underlying cultural changes. Cleavage politics will be weak in postindustrial societies where social class and religion have less influence. Thus, cleavage politics declines with socioeconomic and human development.


The rational choice hypothesis wins.


This is, at heart, a time-series thesis, but it uses only cross-sectional data.