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A Different World: Relative Causal Inference and the Study of Mixed Electoral Systems
Unformatted Document Text:  12 on each component of the election. The causal inferences made with respect to the independent effect of each set of electoral rules may, therefore, be biased. 3. The Idea of Contamination The notion that electoral institutions produce outcomes that are interactive is, outside of the study of mixed electoral systems, certainly not the subject of much controversy. For instance, Amorim-Neto and Cox (1997), Cox (1997), Jones (1995), and Shugart and Carey (1992) have demonstrated that presidential and parliamentary elections tend to interact: the closer presidential elections (where plurality is used) are to legislative elections, the more marked is the tendency towards two-party competition for the latter, particularly if the presidency is a coveted, “non- divisible” prize (Cox, 1997: 189). In American politics, the interaction between presidential and congressional elections is well documented: in on-year congressional elections, more voters show up to the polls and the president-elect’s party often receives a considerable seat boost (see Ferejohn and Calvert, 1984); in midterm elections, fewer voters turn out and the president’s party tends to lose votes, often in proportion to its surge in the previous election (Campbell, 1966; Campbell, 1991). Similarly, the possibility that lower and upper house elections may be interactive is also acknowledged. Cox (1997: 21) suggests that, if different rules are employed and the elections are concurrent, party competition in the elections to one chamber of parliament may be affected by the electoral system used for the other, as “one would hardly expect that the party systems for house and senate elections would fully adapt to their respective electoral systems, in splendid isolation from one another.” 20 If elections to distinct institutional bodies or positions such as a president and a legislature, or a house and a senate, are widely expected to be interactive, it is perhaps less of a stretch to anticipate that two sets of electoral rules employed to elect the same legislative assembly will affect one another and produce outcomes that reflect such interaction. Given that the elections held in the two components of mixed electoral systems are always held simultaneously, it is

Authors: Ferrara, Federico.
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12
on each component of the election. The causal inferences made with respect to the independent
effect of each set of electoral rules may, therefore, be biased.
3. The Idea of Contamination
The notion that electoral institutions produce outcomes that are interactive is, outside of the
study of mixed electoral systems, certainly not the subject of much controversy. For instance,
Amorim-Neto and Cox (1997), Cox (1997), Jones (1995), and Shugart and Carey (1992) have
demonstrated that presidential and parliamentary elections tend to interact: the closer presidential
elections (where plurality is used) are to legislative elections, the more marked is the tendency
towards two-party competition for the latter, particularly if the presidency is a coveted, “non-
divisible” prize (Cox, 1997: 189). In American politics, the interaction between presidential and
congressional elections is well documented: in on-year congressional elections, more voters
show up to the polls and the president-elect’s party often receives a considerable seat boost (see
Ferejohn and Calvert, 1984); in midterm elections, fewer voters turn out and the president’s party
tends to lose votes, often in proportion to its surge in the previous election (Campbell, 1966;
Campbell, 1991). Similarly, the possibility that lower and upper house elections may be
interactive is also acknowledged. Cox (1997: 21) suggests that, if different rules are employed
and the elections are concurrent, party competition in the elections to one chamber of parliament
may be affected by the electoral system used for the other, as “one would hardly expect that the
party systems for house and senate elections would fully adapt to their respective electoral
systems, in splendid isolation from one another.”
20
If elections to distinct institutional bodies or positions such as a president and a legislature, or
a house and a senate, are widely expected to be interactive, it is perhaps less of a stretch to
anticipate that two sets of electoral rules employed to elect the same legislative assembly will
affect one another and produce outcomes that reflect such interaction. Given that the elections
held in the two components of mixed electoral systems are always held simultaneously, it is


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