How Political Institutions Shape Losers' Consent

Christopher J. Anderson, André Blais, Shaun Bowler, Todd Donovan and Ola Listhaug

in Losers' Consent

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199276387
Published online July 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602719 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

 How Political Institutions Shape Losers' Consent

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The authors examine how formal political institutions mute or amplify the impact of losing on attitudes toward the political system. They can do so in one of several ways: by defining the rules of the process by which losers are produced in the first place, usually through the electoral system; by determining the substance of government policy, and how close policy is to the preferences of the losers; and, finally, by determining the boundaries of how power, once allocated, can be exercised by the winners, that is, the constraints on the ability of the winners to bring about policy change. We find that specific institutions, and not just combinations of institutions, help to shape the response of losers. Losers express less negative views about the political system than winners when electoral rules are more proportional, when the political system has a greater number of veto players, and when power is shared within the political system. We also show that federalism allows losers some say in the system, and therefore helps make losers more positive towards the system.

Keywords: coalition government; election outcomes; elections; electoral rules; federalism; legitimacy; losers; political institutions; proportional representation; system support; veto players; winners

Chapter.  8986 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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