Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 16 > Issue 2

Local Representation and Voter Mobilization in Closed-list Proportional Representation Systems

Jon H. Fiva, BI Norwegian Business School, Norway, jon.h.fiva@bi.no , Askill H. Halse, Institute of Transport Economics (TØI), Norway, ash@toi.no , Daniel M. Smith, Harvard University, USA, danielmsmith@fas.harvard.edu
Suggested Citation
Jon H. Fiva, Askill H. Halse and Daniel M. Smith (2021), "Local Representation and Voter Mobilization in Closed-list Proportional Representation Systems", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 16: No. 2, pp 185-213. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00019147

Publication Date: 24 Feb 2021
© 2021 J. H. Fiva, A. H. Halse and D. M. Smith
Electoral behavior,  Electoral institutions,  Parliamentary politics,  Political parties,  Representation,  Voting behavior,  Public Economics
Geographic representationfriends-and-neighbors votingproportional representationregression discontinuity design


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In this article:
Empirical Case Setting: Norway 
Research Design 
Main Results 
Exploring the Mechanisms 


We investigate whether geographic representation affects local voting behavior in closed-list proportional representation (PR) systems, where conventional theoretical wisdom suggests a limited role of localism in voter preferences. Using detailed data on Norwegian parliamentary candidates' hometowns, we show that parties engage in geographic balancing when constructing candidate lists. However, because most districts contain more municipalities than seats, not all municipalities will ultimately see a local candidate elected. A regression discontinuity design applied to marginal candidates reveals that parties obtain higher within-district support in subsequent elections in incumbents' hometowns — novel evidence of "friends-and-neighbors" voting in an otherwise party-centered environment. Exploring the mechanisms, we find that represented municipalities often continue to have locally-connected candidates in top positions, in contrast to municipalities with losing candidates, and are more frequently referenced in legislative speeches. There is no evidence that unequal representation creates inequalities in distributive policies.