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Over Representation and Legislative Coalitions in MMD Electoral Systems

Fri, September 1, 8:00 to 9:30am, Westin St. Francis, Elizabethan B


What is the relationship between mallaportionment and legislative outcomes? It is well established that overrepresented subnational units benefit disproportionately from resources distributed by the center. Explanations for this fact are based on a model of legislative bargaining that assumes legislators who are elected in single-member districts, where there is a one-to-one correspondence between the legislator and the district. In these systems, defining the district’s interest is straightforward and the legislator can easily claim credit for defending it. The same is not true in multi-member districts, where interests that successfully seek representation are varied and legislators elected from the same district can claim to represent different constituencies. In these cases, we claim, legislative bargaining models do not necessarily lead to fiscal outcomes that favor overrepresented districts. We argue that in multi member electoral districts legislative coalitions cut-across the apportionment cleavage and wash out the impact that overrepresentation might have had under a single-member electoral structure. We test this claim by comparing legislative coalitions in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies and the Senate between 1990 and 2015. While both houses are symmetric in their power, elections for the former are based on PR in large districts and for the later on majority rules in one or two-member districts.