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Josep Colomer

Distinguished Visiting Professor, Prince of Asturias Chair in Spanish Studies
Georgetown University
Research Professor, Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), Barcelona

“Institutional Design: The Federal-Proportional Trade-Off”

Thursday, September 13, 2012
4:00 pm - C103 Hesburgh Center

Durable democracies display a huge variety of combinations of basic institutional formulas. A quantitative logical model shows that while there are multiple equilibrium sets of institutions, each involves some trade-off between the size of the country, the territorial structure of government, and the electoral system. Specifically, the larger the country, the more important is federalism in comparison to proportional representation electoral rules for the durability of democratic institutions. The explanatory power of the model is positively tested on all current durable democratic countries. It is also illustrated with a few both fitting and deviant cases. A relevant implication is that the room for manipulation of the choice of institutions is large, but not unlimited, as the choices for a durable democracy are constrained by bounded trade-offs between the values of major institutional variables.

Josep M. Colomer is a scholar, professor, and author in political science and political economy. Using game theory and social choice theory for applied analyses, he has published theoretical and comparative studies on voting and elections as well as political institutions and institutional change. He is the author or editor of 37 books (including 11 in English), 74 book chapters, and 128 scholarly articles (including 60 in refereed and ISI journals), which have been published in English, Spanish, Catalan, French, Italian, and Russian. His most recent book is The Science of Politics: An Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2010).




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