Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 2 > Issue 2

Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies

Torsten Persson, IIES, Stockholm University; CEPR; NBER; and CIAR, Torsten.Persson@iies.su.se , Gerard Roland, Department of Economics and Political Science, UC Berkeley; CEPR, groland@econ.berkeley.edu , Guido Tabellini, IGIER, Bocconi University; CEPR; CES-Ifo; and CIAR, Guido.Tabellini@uni-bocconi.it
Suggested Citation
Torsten Persson, Gerard Roland and Guido Tabellini (2007), "Electoral Rules and Government Spending in Parliamentary Democracies", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 2: No. 2, pp 155-188. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00006019

Publication Date: 15 May 2007
© 2007 T. Persson, G. Roland and G. Tabellini
Comparative politics,  Legislature,  Electoral behavior,  Democracy
JEL Classifications: H00D72D78
Electoral rulesParty systemsCoalition governmentsFiscal policyElectoral accountability


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In this article:
The Model 
Policy Choices Under Proportional Electoral Rule 
Policy Choices Under Majoritarian Electoral Rule 
Electoral Rules and Party Formation 
Empirical Results 


We present a theoretical model of a parliamentary democracy where electoral competition inside coalition governments induces higher spending than under single party governments. Policy preferences of parties are endogenous and derived from opportunistic reelection motives. The electoral rule affects government spending, but only indirectly: proportional elections induce a more fragmented party system and a larger incidence of coalition governments than do majoritarian elections. Empirical evidence from post-war parliamentary democracies strongly supports these predictions.