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Centellas on electoral reform in Bolivia

Abstract: This paper considers the effects of electoral system reform in Bolivia. In 1995, Bolivia shifted away from a list-proportional to a mixed-member proportional electoral system. One of the most noticeable changes in the intervening years has been a growing regional polarization of politics and a collapse of the existing party system, particularly after October 2003. Using statistical analysis of disaggregated electoral data (at the department, municipality, and district level), this paper tests whether electoral system reforms contributed to the current political crisis. Though research findings show that regional cleavages existed prior to electoral system reform, they also suggest that reforms aggravated their effects. Such a finding gives reason to question the recent popularity of mixed-member proportionality.

Miguel Centellas (2007), “Electoral Reform, Regional Cleavages and Party System Stability in Bolivia (1985-2005),” unpublished paper. Available here.

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