I recently attended a talk by Dan Kselman about the relationship between electoral systems and corruption; a draft of the paper is available here. In the paper, Dan develops a model that includes the assumption that legislators in PR systems will identify a particular region within their district to target particular attention. There was a bit of a spirited discussion about the merits of that particular assumption, so I thought it might be interesting to throw the question out to the readers of the Monkey Cage. For those of you who have closely studied party competition in PR systems, does this sound like something you have observed in practice? Conversely, does this sound like something that does not happen in the country(ies) you have observed? Either way, please let us know in the comments section, especially if there are published works documenting either type of campaign strategies.
I also asked Dan to provide a brief synopsis of the argument for the readers of the Monkey Cage, and this is what he sent along:
The posted paper draft (not quite complete…) develops a game theoretic model to study legislators’ incentives to provide constituents in their electoral districts with particularistic goods and services (pork, social services, ombudsman services, etc). In single-member district systems, identifying the ‘target’ of such legislative particularism is fairly straight-forward: incumbents target such projects and services to residents of their single-member district.
In multi-member district systems, specifying theoretically the set of voters whom incumbents may target to receive particularistic goods and services is less straight-forward. For example, studies of clientelism in countries as varied as Brazil, Argentina, and Turkey have emphasized that clientelistic targeting requires ‘deep’ constituency relationships, and that incumbents have no way of maintaining such relationships with all voters in larger multi-member districts. As such, incumbents tend to maintain personal relationships in regional or municipal strongholds within larger electoral districts (aka bailiwicks). Similarly, research on Japanese politics suggests that incumbents often maintain personalistic relationships with particular professional subgroups within larger electoral districts.
On the other hand, one could also think of legislators in larger multi-member districts building a bridge which pleases all voters in that district, and not simply those in a well-defined geographic or professional strongholds. So, the question is this: how do legislators in multi-member district systems choose the subset of district constituents to which they will target their particularistic efforts? In the attached paper, the assumption is that legislators can choose (or choose not…) to develop personalistic relationships with subsets of voters in multi-member districts. Does anyone have examples outside of those mentioned above where this type of ‘carving out’ occurs? Or, does anyone have examples of situations in which particularistic efforts are targeted to the entirety of voters in a multi-member district?