Thomas Gschwend
Comparative Politics of Strategic Voting: A Hierarchy of Electoral Systems

Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA., August 28th to September 02nd, 2003

What is the impact of electoral rules on the way people make decisions in the voting booth? Traditionally the literature about electoral systems and electoral behavior argues that the size of the district magnitude determines the amount of strategic voting that has to be expected. I argue, however, that different electoral systems provide incentives that potentially undermine or facilitate the Duvergerian logic in practice. The aim of this paper is to provide a hierarchy of electoral systems that helps to predict the share of strategic voters following the wasted vote strategy. Evidence supporting such a hierarchy stems from the CSES data module 1. The systematic differences resulting from the variation in the institutional context are generally more pronounced at the district level across electoral systems the smaller the particular district magnitude gets. Thus, contrary to the literature the results indicate that the impact of the district magnitude on the frequency of strategic voting in a given polity is conditional on the type of seat allocation system that defines how votes get translated into parliamentary seats.