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61 World Pol. 254 (2009)
The Competitive Road to Proportional Representation

handle is hein.journals/wpot61 and id is 275 raw text is: 



Partisan Biases and Electoral Regime Change

       under Increasing Party Competition

                         By ERNESTO CALVO*


Q NE of the most noteworthy political regularities in the twenti-
      eth century was  the  shift away from  majoritarian  electoral rules.
As  has been  well documented, in the first   half of the twenty  century
almost  every reformed   or new   electoral system belonged   to the pro-
portional  representation  (PR) family. The  conventional  story, first in-
troduced  by Stein Rokkan   and  later formalized by Carles Boix,2 argues
that shocks  to the median  voter  and the rising threat of Socialist par-
ties led incumbent  elites, fearful of the electoral gains that majoritarian
rules could  provide  to successful newcomers,   to  reform  the electoral
system. The  argument   is not only consistent but  also fits well with ex-
isting knowledge   about  reforms  under  stress in some  Western   Euro-
pean  countries.3

   * I would like to thank Juan Manuel Abal Medina, Isabella Alcafliz, Kenneth Benoit, Gary Cox,
Mark P Jones, Ernesto Cabrera, Tulia Falleti, Edward L. Gibson, Bernard Grofman, Timothy Helwig,
Noah Kaplan, Gary King, Fabrice Lehoucq, Rick Matland, Covadonga Meseguer,Juan Pablo Micozzi,
Charles Munnell, Maria Victoria Murillo, Gabriel Negretto, David Samuels, Susan Scarrow, and the
participants of the Political Economy workshop at Centro de Investigaci6n y Docencia Econ6mica
(Mexico) for their comments. I also thank Eric Vanhaute and Torsten Wiedemann from the Belgian
Historical GIS project at Ghent University for the Belgian shapefiles. Ifiaki Sagarzazu, Kadir Yildirim,
and Lizbeth Mejia provided invaluable research assistance. This research was supported by a Univer-
sity of Houston Grant to Enhance and Advance Research (GEAR) grant.
   1 Rokkan 1970; Boix 1999; and Grofman and Lijphart 2003.
   2 Rokkan 1970; and Boix 1999.
   3The argument builds on Rokkan's two roads to Proportional Representation. As presented by
Rokkan, early reforms (the first road) were introduced to protect electoral minorities in the years be-
fore World War I. The second road, the antisocialist phase, was common in the 1920s. According to
Rokkan (1970, 157), in the prewar years, increasing competition led to the introduction of reforms to
protect political minorities in the culturally heterogeneous countries of Belgium, Denmark, and Swit-
zerland. Prior to World War I, threatened elites in Germany, Norway, and Sweden, introduced PR to
minimize seat losses to rising Socialist parties. As presented by Grofman and Lijphart (2003, 10), the

World Politics 61, no. 2 (April 2009), 254-95
Copyright © 2009 Trustees of Princeton University

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