Losing and Support for Institutional Change

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

 Losing and Support for Institutional Change

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Examines the question of whether electoral losers will try to change the rules of the game or will stop participating in politics altogether. Expectations of future loss are likely to have an important impact when citizens are asked to consider replacing the current status quo institutions with another set. Examining proposed and enacted institutional reforms in a variety of areas and countries, we find that losers by and large are more likely to support changes in institutional practices. The findings help to demonstrate that losing is an important part of the motor that drives institutional change. While losing does not presage a disaster or an abrupt end to democratic practices, it does seem to be one of the first steps in the direction of change and reform. One of the difficulties facing the design of democratic institutions is to have institutions that make losers, but not permanent losers, and to allow current losers some reasonable chance of winning in future periods.

Keywords: election outcomes; elections; electoral rules; legitimacy; losers; political institutions; reform; system support; United States Electoral College; winners

Chapter.  7442 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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