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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 15, 2017

Proportional Representation, Large District Magnitude and Closed Lists

  • Radek Buben EMAIL logo and Karel Kouba EMAIL logo
From the journal World Political Science


Choosing the type of electoral system in new democracies has become a contested issue for social scientists as well as for political actors. Contrary to the state of the public debate on the issue, the article advances the position from a multidisciplinary standpoint (political science, historical sociology, economics) that proportional representation with large districts and closed lists performs better on a variety of key indicators. We review recent literature on the performance of electoral systems especially in post-communist and Latin American democracies. The article identifies the centripetal theory of democracy as a normative basis for our institutional prescriptions and discusses how distinct types of political representation relate to the debate on electoral systems. We focus especially on four main concerns commonly associated with proportional representation (the rise of “extremist” parties, government instability, party system deconsolidation, and corruption and clientelism). Contrary to much of the public debate on electoral systems, we conclude that further steps towards personalization (by opening lists or reducing district magnitude) are not advisable.

Corresponding authors: PhDr. Radek Buben, PhD, Centre for Ibero-American Studies of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague, Hybernská 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic and Mgr Karel Kouba, MA, PhD, Department of Political Science of the Philosophical Faculty, University of Hradec Králové, Rokitanského 62, 500 03 Hradec Králové, Czech Republic


This article was written as a part of a project within the Charles University Institute for the Study of Strategic Regions (Institut pro studium strategických regionů UK) and a project financed by the University of Hradec Králové. Authors thank the anonymous reviewers for their comments.


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Published Online: 2017-11-15
Published in Print: 2017-12-20

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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