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Voters, Leaders, and European Integration : The Impact of Voting Institutions

Voters, Leaders, and European Integration : The Impact of Voting Institutions

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BETTECKEN, Julia, 2021. Voters, Leaders, and European Integration : The Impact of Voting Institutions [Dissertation]. Konstanz: University of Konstanz

@phdthesis{Bettecken2021Voter-56775, title={Voters, Leaders, and European Integration : The Impact of Voting Institutions}, year={2021}, author={Bettecken, Julia}, address={Konstanz}, school={Universität Konstanz} }

Bettecken, Julia Voters, Leaders, and European Integration : The Impact of Voting Institutions Political decisions are sometimes made by voters directly and sometimes delegated to their elected or appointed representatives. Do political leaders make better choices than voters? This work takes into account both economic and procedural dimensions to answer this question by evaluating the performance of different voting institutions. The economic dimension allows me to assess the extent to which the decision-making outcome is efficient (i.e., maximizing social welfare). The procedural dimension allows me to assess the extent to which the decision-making rule is perceived as fair. Both dimensions matter but may come into conflict with each other when fair procedures do not result in efficient decisions and vice versa.<br /><br />Specifically, Chapter 2 presents evidence from a lab experiment showing that elected representatives make better choices (maximizing social welfare) than groups deciding by majority vote. Turning to mechanisms, I show that elected leaders do not care whether the information based on which they are elected is meaningful or not. The finding suggests that leaders make better choices not because they feel they were chosen based on their competence but rather because they feel they are pivotal in the decision-making process. Pivotality increases both their visibility and responsibility to act in the best interest of all voters. By contrast, the majority vote leads to the diffusion of pivotality fostering selfish behavior.<br /><br />The second lab experiment (Chapter 3) picks up this finding and shifts the attention to the selection procedure: if political selection as such has a positive effect, does it also matter how that person was selected? My co-author and I find that, against our theoretical expectation, appointed leaders and their followers perform better (maximizing social welfare) than elected leaders and their followers. Turning to mechanisms, we show that appointed leaders feel more connected to their followers. The finding suggests that appointed leaders perform socially optimal because they espouse a more holistic view of representation, keeping the interests of all followers in mind (not just their voters’).<br /><br />Finally, in Chapter 4, I present evidence from a quasi-experimental analysis of Eurobarometer data collected shortly before and after the 2005 Constitutional Treaty referendum in France. Contrary to what theory suggests, I show that the popular vote has a dampening effect on voters’ legitimacy perceptions and that this effect is primarily driven by the winners of the referendum. In spite of their victory, they experience a large and significant drop in their legitimacy perceptions. I explain this surprisingly fatalist view of the electoral winners by the past experience of repeated EU referendums in cases where the electorate had initially rejected further integration steps to eventually accept them in a second referendum.<br /><br />Taken together, I provide novel empirical evidence that could change the way we think about political participation (more is not always better), political selection (the how matters), and representation (appointed leaders espouse a more holistic view). The contribution of my dissertation is twofold. First, I advance theory building by developing a new argument on the positive effect of political selection that explores expressive or intrinsic channels (e.g., feeling pivotal, competent, or connected to voters). Past research, by contrast, has focused on instrumental or extrinsic motives (e.g., reelection). Second, the combination of lab experiments and surveys provides for a more comprehensive and robust test of hypotheses than would be possible by relying exclusively on either one of the two data sources. Bettecken, Julia 2022-03-08T10:53:25Z 2021 terms-of-use 2022-03-08T10:53:25Z eng

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