The Consolidation of Power through Electoral Engineering [védés előtt]

Rajnai, Gergely (2022) The Consolidation of Power through Electoral Engineering [védés előtt]. PhD thesis, Budapesti Corvinus Egyetem, Nemzetközi Kapcsolatok és Politikatudományi Doktori Iskola.

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Abstract

The dissertation is a combination of two distinct parts. Part 1 establishes the theory of the consolidation, while Part 2 applies it empirically by evaluating the effectiveness of electoral engineering at consolidating power. The main contributions of Part 1 are as follows: • The consolidation of power is a political, actor-focused concept that supplements the literature on democratization/democratic backsliding and is applicable as a foundation for empirical analysis. • The consolidation of power is defined as an action that meets four criteria: an actor that possesses power purposefully uses that power to increase its long-term influence or to preserve the power that it already has. • The classification of power consolidation is established using a parallel with the typology of democratic consolidation: positive consolidation increases power, negative consolidation preserves it, while neutral consolidation organizes and embeds it. • All three types of power consolidation are compatible with democracy, even though they often contribute the erosion of the quality of democracy. Nevertheless, the consolidation can sometimes even be necessary for the establishment/improvement of democracy. The main contributions of Part 2 are as follows: • Electoral engineering is an act when electoral reforms are motivated by partisan self-interest; parties create systems for their own electoral benefit, i.e. they would like to maximize their partisan bias (gain as many seats as possible for a given vote share). This is a widely accepted assumption in the literature that Part 2 intends to test empirically. • Using a novel dataset that covers each democratic election in the world between 1974 and 2017, this assumption is tested using various statistical methods (descriptive statistics, t-tests, OLS regressions, logistic regressions, and difference-in-differences analysis). • The first hypothesis posited that electoral reformers design systems that increase their partisan bias compared to their bias in the previous election. The analysis indicated no significant effect; hence the hypothesis was rejected. • The second hypothesis posited that electoral reformers design systems that are favorable to them compared to other parties (i.e. the partisan bias of reformers is higher than non-reformers). The analysis indicated no significant effect (only a minor benefit to neutral reformers and a minor detriment for proportional reformers in one of the models); hence the hypothesis was rejected. • The third hypothesis posited that electoral reformers design systems that increase their chances of reelection. The analysis indicated no significant effect; hence the hypothesis was rejected. • The fourth hypothesis posited that the direction of reforms, i.e. whether they make the system more majoritarian or more proportional depends on the direction of their popularity between the election or their partisan bias t the election preceding the reform. The analysis indicated no significant effect; hence the hypothesis was rejected. Overall, the dissertation is a combined theoretical-empirical investigation that bridges the gap between two independent strands of literature. It also establishes a larger scientific project that intends to test the general efficacy of attempts at consolidating power.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD thesis)
Supervisor:Balázs Zoltán
Subjects:Political science
International relations
ID Code:1231
Date:4 July 2022
Deposited On:08 Jun 2022 13:22
Last Modified:08 Jun 2022 13:22

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