On the Manipulability of Proportional Representation
Series/Report no.Cahier de recherche #2006-20
This paper presents a new model of voter behaviour under methods of proportional representation (PR). We abstract away from rounding, and assume that a party securing k percent of the vote wins exactly k percent of the available seats. Under this assumption PR is not manipulable by any voter aiming at maximisation of the number of seats in the parliament of her most preferred party. However in this paper we assume that voters are concerned, first and foremost, with the distribution of power in the post-election parliament. We show that, irrespective of which positional scoring rule is adopted, there will always exist circumstances where a voter would have an incentive to vote insincerely. We demonstrate that a voter’s attitude toward uncertainty can influence her incentives to make an insincere vote. Finally, we show that the introduction of a threshold - a rule that a party must secure at least a certain percentage of the vote in order to reach parliament - creates new opportunities for strategic voting. We use the model to explain voter behaviour at the most recent New Zealand general election.