This paper explores the causes and consequences of evaluations of the political system and support for electoral system change. In 1993, New Zealand voters adopted a referendum that fundamentally changed the way representatives are elected, moving from a plurality to a proportional (PR) electoral system. We examine the role of cynicism about the political system in adopting PR and how electoral change may shape evaluations of the political system. We expect that political minorities and those dissatisfied with the current performance of government are more likely to be cynical about the fairness of the political process and that these evaluations are related to support for PR. In turn, supporters of the referendum should judge the political system more favorably once the reform is implemented. Using panel data from the 1993 and 1996 New Zealand Election Studies, we find that support for PR is based on more general evaluations of the fairness of the political system and partisan self-interest. Those who supported PR and are politically aware are also more likely to have an increase in favorable evaluations of the political system.
Political Behavior – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 28, 2004
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