Vote-earning strategies in flexible list systems: Seats at the price of unity

Brian F. Crisp, Santiago Olivella, Michael Malecki, Mindy Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


In theory, flexible list systems are a compromise between closed-list and open-list proportional representation. A party's list of candidates can be reordered by voters if the number of votes cast for an individual candidate exceeds some quota. Because these barriers to reordering are rarely overcome, these systems are often characterized as basically closed-list systems. Paradoxically, in many cases, candidates are increasingly earning individual-level preference votes. Using data from Slovakia, we show that incumbents cultivate personal reputations because parties reward preference vote earning candidates with better pre-election list positions in the future. Ironically, the party's vote-earning strategy comes at a price, as incumbents use voting against the party on the chamber floor to generate the reputations that garner preference votes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)658-669
Number of pages12
JournalElectoral Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2013


  • Flexible-list proportional representation
  • Party unity
  • Preference vote
  • Slovakia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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