Political Science Faculty Publications


Falling into a Niche: Institutional Equilibrium between Plurality and Proportional Representation for Large Political Parties

Document Type



Scholars of electoral systems (e.g., Duverger 1954; Rae 1967) argue that a combination of electoral system and district magnitude provides the strategic incentives for political party competition. All electoral sys tems reward large parties with a disproportional seat bonus, with this bonus being more pronounced in plurality/majority systems. Thus, large parties invariably wish to compete in majoritarian systems while smaller parties seek a proportional system of seat allocation. This study shows that an institutional "niche" develops in some party systems where the second-largest party prefers the current electoral system over either a more proportional or more majoritarian system. Specifically, I illustrate how parties in Irish, Tasmanian, Australian House, and Australian Senate elec tions occupy such an equilibrium. Vote transfers create a seat bonus that does not exist in either more proportional or more majoritarian systems (e.g., the Single Non-Transferable Vote).

Publication Date


Publication Title

Political Research Quarterly



Start Page No.


End Page No.


This document is currently not available here.