Published date01 November 2015
AuthorPeverill Squire
Date01 November 2015
In recent years legislative scholars have sought to test theories in
settings beyond the institution or institutions for which they were origi-
nally developed. Such work promises to push the f‌ield to develop more
general theories of legislative behavior. We are fortunate to have a num-
berofarticlesinthisissueoftheQuarterly that continue this effort.
The electoral advantage incumbents enjoy is well-documented in
the study of legislatures in the United States. Whether incumbents oper-
ating in other electoral systems, notably those using proportional
representation, similarly benef‌it is the question tackled by Miriam A.
Golden and Lucio Picci. They examine data on more than 12,000 candi-
dates from two major parties who sought election to the Italian Chamber
of Deputies between 1948 and 1992, a period during which the country
employed an open-list system of proportional representation. The novel
twist in the system was that voters could cast a vote for their preferred
party and a limited number of votes for their preferred candidates on the
party list. The authors perform two distinct analyses, distinguishing
between incumbents who were reselected by the party from those
reelected by the voters. Although there were small differences in incum-
bency effects, the average incumbent enjoyed an advantage in getting
reselected by the party, but no advantage in getting reelected. Only a
small number of elite deputies were able to generate a substantial
personal vote. Thus, the political fate of most lawmakers was in the
hands of party leaders, who could use their power to enforce party disci-
pline. As the authors note, additional studies will be needed to determine
the extent to which this f‌inding can be generalized to other proportional
representation electoral systems. But they do suggest that f‌indings based
on studies of the electoral system used in the United States may not
generalize well to other systems.
Democratic theory assumes t hat alternatives are offere d to the
voters in elections. In congr essional elections in the United States, the
factors determining whethe r alternatives exist has involved th e study
of the strategic behavior of po tential challengers. Less attention has
been given to state legislativ e elections where competiti on is actually
more at risk: On average, only tw o-thirds of state legislativ e contests
DOI: 10.1111 /lsq.12086
C2015 The Comparative Legislative Research Center of The University of Iowa

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