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12 de maio de 2009

does public opinion drive electoral reform? Pippa Norris

[Foscarini Supernova Sospensione.]

Why do electoral systems change?

A new Harvard research paper, to be discussed in mid-April in the Lisbon ECPR workshops, provides fresh insights into this issue.

Cultural accounts, based on many case studies, suggest that political legitimacy plays a critical role. During the early 1990s, for example, Italian electoral reform was widely regarded as a reaction to the Tangentopoli scandal, while public anger about government corruption was also seen as one of the main triggers for Japanese reforms. Where the public sees the regime as legitimate, this provides little pressure for change to the status quo. Where citizens are dissatisfied, especially when performance is evaluated against democratic aspirations, this heightens demands for institutional reform on the policy agenda.

Although many scholars have often suggested this connection, systematic cross-national evidence establishing this relationship has not been examined. Moreover this assumption is challenged by rational choice accounts which regard electoral reform as an elite-level issue, where the public plays only a marginal role. These accounts have emphasized the paramount importance of the calculation of partisan interests in a two-stage game, where parties have preferences for alternative institutions based on expectations about the payoffs these rules will have for them in future.

leia o texto de Pippa Norris
Understanding the policy cycle model of electoral reform



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