Bras. Political Sci. Rev.. 01/Sep/2015;9(3):42-63.
The Capital Mistake: Local Information and National Electoral Reforms
Electoral reforms are often portrayed as strategic decisions by rational actors. However, expectations about the electoral consequences of reforms are not always realized ex post. I argue that these strategic mistakes occur because of information failures. Even though electoral reforms are decided at a national level, electoral information is geographically concentrated at a local level, where elections take place. At the time of reforms, members of the National Congress need to gather local level information. When deciding whether to support or oppose reforms, information varies across actors. Well-informed actors make better decisions, while ill-informed actors end up as “strategic fools”. A statistical analysis of the Argentine electoral reform in 1912 supports my theoretical expectations.