Coevolution of capitalism and political representation: The choice of electoral systems


Journal Article

Protocorporatist West European countries in which economic interests were collectively organized adopted PR in the first quarter of the twentieth century, whereas liberal countries in which economic interests were not collectively organized did not. Political parties, as Marcus Kreuzer points out, choose electoral systems. So how do economic interests translate into party political incentives to adopt electoral reform? We argue that parties in protocorporatist countries were representative of and closely linked to economic interests. As electoral competition in single member districts increased sharply up to World War I, great difficulties resulted for the representative parties whose leaders were seen as interest committed. They could not credibly compete for votes outside their interest without leadership changes or reductions in interest influence. Proportional representation offered an obvious solution, allowing parties to target their own voters and their organized interest to continue effective influence in the legislature. In each respect, the opposite was true of liberal countries. Data on party preferences strongly confirm this model. (Kreuzer's historical criticisms are largely incorrect, as shown in detail in the online supplementary Appendix.). © 2010 American Political Science Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Cusack, T; Iversen, T; Soskice, D

Published Date

  • May 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 104 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 393 - 403

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1537-5943

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0003-0554

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1017/S0003055410000134

Citation Source

  • Scopus