Normative Balance and Electoral Reform: A Finnish Puzzle and a Comparative Analysis

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


The Finnish electoral system has recently been changed to slightly increase proportionality, but nothing has been done to make cabinet alternatives more ‘identifiable’ before the election. This outcome poses a major puzzle for one important theoretical approach to electoral system change. This approach sees normatively ‘unbalanced’ systems as vulnerable to reform and would have expected a significant increase in the pre-electoral identifiability of competing cabinet options. The article explains the Finnish case by embedding it in a comparative model of normative tradeoffs in democratic design. Based on Finnish case evidence and a statistical analysis of 100 elections in 32 democracies (from 2001 to 2011), the article argues that the type of democracy exemplified by Finland is not normatively unbalanced. In particular, the lack of pre-electoral identifiability is compensated for by an unconstrained multidimensionality of partisan preferences. While it may be true that normatively balanced designs are more stable, there is more than one way to be balanced.
ZeitschriftWest European Politics
Seiten (von - bis)53-72
Anzahl der Seiten20
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 25.01.2015
Extern publiziertJa