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The Logic of Institutional Preferences: German Electoral Law as a Social Choice Outcome

Kathleen Bawn
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 37, No. 4 (Nov., 1993), pp. 965-989
DOI: 10.2307/2111539
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111539
Page Count: 25
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The Logic of Institutional Preferences: German Electoral Law as a Social Choice Outcome
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Abstract

Institutions determine the results of social decision processes, yet institutions are themselves endogenous products of earlier social choices. This paper explores the hypothesis that participants in the choice of institutions seek alternatives that favor their desired policies. The choice of institutions can be analyzed in terms of bargaining between individuals or parties, where preferences derive from preferences over policy and bargaining is structured by existing institutions. This approach is used to study the choice of an electoral system in Germany after World War II. The hypothesis that parties choose electoral institutions to maximize their future policy influence explains both the adoption of proportional representation in 1949 and the switch to a two-vote ballot in 1953.

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