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Social Sciences Research InstituteSocial Sciences Research Institute

Electoral Rules' Change in Latin American Democracies

Electoral rules are a fundamental feature in a democracy:  rules transform votes into seats, and the influence of parties on policy outcomes depends on their presence in legislative bodies.  However, while there is considerable body of research which shows the consequences of the rules, it is unclear why rules change. My dissertation contributes to our understanding of electoral rules' change.  Parties face strong incentives to strategically manipulate the rules, and they have done it somewhat frequently in recent democracies.  I argue that the chances of a change in the rules will be linked to the legislative support of the incumbent party, the evaluation of the performance of the current rules and the emerging electoral challenges.  This argument will be evaluated employing two complementary strategies.  A cross-national  analysis of the Latin American cases provides a rich set of 18 democracies over a period of three decades.  A subnational comparative analysis of two federations, Argentina and Mexico, will bring a complementary set of observations:  they not only provide numerous examples of rule changes, but especially a number of theoretically puzzling ones.