Essays on Voter and Legislative Behavior in Coalitional Democracies

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Title: Essays on Voter and Legislative Behavior in Coalitional Democracies
Author: Fortunato, David
Advisor: Martin, Lanny
Degree: Doctor of Philosophy thesis
Abstract: In this dissertation I examine the reciprocal relationship between voters and political parties in coalitional democracies in three essays. First, I investigate how voters alter their perceptions of political parties in response to their participation in coalition cabinets. I argue that voters view coalition participation as broad and wide-ranging policy compromise and update their perceptions of the policy positions of cabinet participants accordingly. I find that voters perceive coalition partners as more similar than parties that are not currently coalesced, all else equal. In the following essay, I examine the electoral repercussions of this shift in perceptions by proposing a model of voting that considers coalition policy-making. I argue that voters will equate the policy compromise they perceive in the cabinet with a failure to rigorously pursue the policies they were promised and that voters who perceive compromise will punish the incumbent. The data reveals that this perception may cost incumbent cabinets about 2.5% of their vote share. Finally, I move from the electorate to the legislature to investigate if and how these perceptions condition legislative behavior. The previous essays suggest that coalition parties have substantial motivation to differentiate themselves from their partners in cabinet when voters perceive them as becoming more similar. I test this argument by examining partisan behavior in legislative review. The data show that coalition partners who are perceived as more similar are more likely to amend one another’s legislation.
Citation: Fortunato, David. (2012) "Essays on Voter and Legislative Behavior in Coalitional Democracies." Doctoral Thesis, Rice University.
Date: 2012-09-05

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