A Caltech Library Service

Electing Legislatures

Austen-Smith, David (1987) Electing Legislatures. Social Science Working Paper, 644. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF (sswp 644 - May 1987) - Submitted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


A "legislature" is defined to be an assembly of at least two elected officials which selects final policy outcomes. Legislative elections therefore concern the electoral choice of such an assembly. The classical two-candidate, single-district, model of electoral competition is not a legislative election in the sense of this essay. In the classical model the legislature comprises the winning candidate: this agent has monopolistic control of the legislative decision-making machinery, and implements his winning policy. With this system, voters have a straightforward "best" voting rule for any pair of candidate positions offered in the election: vote sincerely. In the multi-stage legislative electoral system, final outcomes depend on the entire composition of the legislature and the specifics of legislative decision-making. With such a system, voters' decisions are considerably less straightforward, which in turn complicates candidates' strategic choices. This paper presents a fairly technical review of the spatial-theoretic literature on legislative elections. The paper was commissioned by Norman Schofield for the conference on Coalition Theory and Public Choice (Fiesole, Italy: May 1987). On the one hand, the task was easy: the literature is small and much of it involves my own work. On the other hand, the task was difficult: the literature is small and much of it involves my own work. In any event, I am grateful to Professor Schofield for giving me the opportunity and incentive to raise some issues with which I have long been concerned. He is in no way responsible for any errors or omissions the paper might contain. I feel perfectly free, however, to blame him for the appearance of self-indulgence that the essay surely has.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Group:Social Science Working Papers
Series Name:Social Science Working Paper
Issue or Number:644
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20170908-163132276
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:81277
Deposited By: Jacquelyn Bussone
Deposited On:11 Sep 2017 18:36
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 18:40

Repository Staff Only: item control page