A Caltech Library Service

Ethnic Heterogeneity, District Magnitude, and the Number of Parties

Ordeshook, Peter C. and Shvetsova, Olga V. (1992) Ethnic Heterogeneity, District Magnitude, and the Number of Parties. Social Science Working Paper, 809. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF (sswp 809 - Sep. 1992) - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


Recent events leading to the importation of democratic ideas and ideals by previously totalitarian states increase our interest in the ways in which electoral institutions influence party systems. However, even if we restrict our attention to Eastern Europe or the successor states of the Soviet empire, we encounter a range of social diversity – ethnic heterogeneity - that is as great as those in the set of countries examined in earlier studies that seek to identify the influence of electoral laws (c.f., Rae, Lijphart, and Taagepera and Shugart). Curiously, though, these earlier studies fail to ascertain whether and to what extent electoral laws mediate the influence of this heterogeneity. Hence, to develop a more pragmatic understanding of electoral institutions, we adopt the view of electoral laws as intervening structures and, using the data of these earlier analyses, we reconsider the role of one institutional parameter - district magnitude - that some researchers regard as the most important characteristic of an electoral system. Aside from the usual caveats about the limitations of our data, our primary conclusion is that district magnitude is not merely an important determinant of the number of parties that compete in a political system, but that it can offset the tendency of parties to multiply in heterogeneous societies.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemPublished Version
Additional Information:This research was supported by grants from the U.S. Institute of Peace and the University of Maryland's IRIS program. The authors also wish to thank John Petrocik and Rod Kiewiet for their many suggestions, and Arend Lijphart for access to his data. Published as Ordeshook, Peter C., and Olga V. Shvetsova. "Ethnic heterogeneity, district magnitude, and the number of parties." American journal of political science (1994): 100-123.
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Subject Keywords:Political parties, District magnitude, Election laws, Voting, Linear regression, Mathematical dependent variables, Electoral systems, Single member districts, Electoral districts, Ethnicity
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:809
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170828-163253963
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:80880
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:28 Aug 2017 23:45
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:36

Repository Staff Only: item control page