Economic Globalization and the Change of Electoral Rules

Christian W. Martin (University of Kiel) /Nils D. Steiner (University of Mainz)

This paper investigates the link between economic globalization and the change of electoral rules. It is argued that the likelihood of electoral rule changes increases with levels of integration in the world economy. At the same time, this change should tilt the electoral system towards more proportionality.

The paper draws on a micro model of the distributive effects of increased economic integration. Because more proportional systems are more credibly able to commit to compensate the losers of globalization processes, there will be increased demand to change the electoral system towards more proportionality under economic circumstances that increase the costs of maintaining a closed economy.

We empirically test the implications of our model using a data set on electoral rules changes in developed democracies. We draw on an empirical model of electoral rules change to assess our hypotheses and find a positive association between a) proportionality of the voting system and trade integration, b) proportionality and social spending, and c) global integration levels and the probability of electoral rules changes that render voting rules more proportional.

Economic Globalization and the Change of Electoral Rules