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INTERACTION EFFECTS IN MIXED- MEMBER ELECTORAL SYSTEMS

The past decade has witnessed a surprising growth in the popularity of mixed-member electoral systems. Under these systems, voters choose representatives simultaneously under both propor- tional representation (PR) and single-member district plurality (SMDP) rules. It is widely accepted that SMDP rules tend to winnow competition down toward two large parties, and evi- dence from mixed systems suggests that this Duvergerian “gravity” reduces the number of par- ties surviving SMDP competition under mixed systems as well. Nevertheless, we argue, simulta- neous balloting under PR rules softens this winnowing effect, operating as a “centrifugal force” that prevents Duvergerian gravity from reducing competition to the degree it does under pure SMDPsystems. Thus, these new systems produce effects unanticipated by their designers.To test for the presence of this centrifugal force, we examine elite-level electoral strategies in Ger- many, Japan, and Italy and compare district-level SMDP election results from pure systems with those of mixed-member systems.

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