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Final Progress Report

Progress Report of the project

“Voting Rules and Strategic Behavior.

Field and laboratory experiments in the Romanian context (VRSB)”

 

 

The main objective of the project was to study the impact of different voting rules on voters and on candidate behavior in the Romanian context. The expected results of the project are related to its specific objectives which were designed in order to achieve the more general objective, as follows:

Specific objective 1: To study the impact on behavior of specific voting rules – plurality, two round majority, proportional representation, approval voting and the Borda rule – in the context of the real 2012 Romanian local and general elections, using field experiments.

Specific objective 2: To test the robustness of field findings in the laboratory using experiments and computer simulations.

Specific objective 3: To draw wider conclusions regarding the impact of existing theoretical models on voting behavior and their applicability in specific situations.

 

            In order to achieve the first specific objective we took advantage of the opportunity to conduct field experiments during the 2012 local and general elections; the field experiments were carried out in order to analyze voter behavior under different voting rules in real life circumstances.

            On June 10th 2012 a pilot study was conducted with a field quasi-experimental methodology. In order to test the impact of different voting rules on voter behavior, a questionnaire with different scenarios was used. For the local elections, the voting rules under study were first past the post, proportional representation, approval voting, limited voting, two-round majority rule, the Borda rule, the alternative vote, the Romanian electoral system and the majority judgement system. The study was conducted in six locations in Bucharest (each in a different district) and in two other locations close to the city (a small town called Răcari and a commune called Conțești).

             We made some chances in the research design used in the second study, conducted on December 9th  2012 during the general elections. First of all, voter behavior was analyzed under only five voting rules: first past the post, proportional representation, approval voting, alternative voting and the majority judgement system. The study was conducted in two locations in Bucharest and three more locations outside Bucharest from three different counties: Dâmbovita, Ialomiţa and Buzău. In each county we chose one locality and surveyed all voting polls that were set up by the authorities. Thirdly, we designed a leaflet containing explanations and  small scale examples for each rule we studied and disseminated this leaflet in all the locations in which we ran the study, one week before the elections. Finally, we asked people to administer the survey themselves, trying to come as close as we could to our original idea of having people vote on experimental ballots under different voting rules.

            During the first field experiment conducted during the local elections 309 responses were collected (278 in Bucharest, 13 in Răcari and 18 in Conțești).

            During the second experiment far more responses were collected. This is due, first of all, to the expansion of the number of locations where the study was conducted. While the pilot study was conducted in 6 polling stations in Bucharest, one in Răcari and one in Conțești, the field experiment organized during the general elections on December 9th 2012 covered two polling stations in Bucharest, four in Buzău County, six in Ialomița County and ten in Dâmbovița County. The other reason was the fact that there were only 5 voting rules under study (first past the post, approval voting, alternative voting, proportional system and the scoring system), as opposed to the nine rules used during the pilot study. Thus, given the fact that the questionnaire used was shorter, 1212 responses were gathered.

            On May 25th 2014, on the same day with the European Parliament elections, early elections to fill the vacancies in the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate were also held. One of the vacancies was in one of the single-member districts where field experiments were organized during both the local elections and the general elections in 2012. Thus, the partial elections provided the perfect opportunity to replicate the experiment conducted in 2012. For an accurate replication of the experiment the same experimental design and the same data collection instrument as in the general election from December 9th 2012 were used. The only difference between the two questionnaires was the introduction of a question regarding the new Romanian electoral system.

             While during the general elections of 2012 it was enough to ask people how they voted in the real elections (because the electoral system was the new mixed-member one) during the partial elections a new question was necessary, because the partials take place under plurality, not under the mixed system. Thus, during the experiment of May 25th  2014 six voting rules were studied: first past the post rule, alternative vote, approval voting, the 2008 Romanian electoral system, proportional representation and the majority judgement system. The order of the questions regarding the voting rules, as in the experiments of December 2012 was randomized to avoid consistency effects. During this replication of the experiment 146 responses were gathered.

            Given the extension of the project in 2016 the field experiment was also replicated during the local elections held on June 5th. Like in the case of the studies conducted during the general elections in December 9th 2012 and the partial ones in May 25th 2014, the same instrument was used for this last experiment. The main difference between the questionnaire and the previous ones was the removal of the 2008 Romanian electoral system from the study. We opted for setting this vignette aside firstly because these elections were local ones and secondly due to the fact that the electoral system for the general elections changed starting with the 2016 elections by returning to the closed-list proportional system used before 2004. Thus, in June 2016 we tested the voter behavior under the first past the post rule, alternative vote, approval voting, proportional representation   and the majority judgement system. We also added a vignette concerning the two-round majority system. As in the previous experiments the order of the questions regarding the voting rules was randomized to avoid consistency effects. During this replication of the experiment 149 responses were gathered.

 

            In order to achieve the second specific objective we conducted a series of laboratory experiments in order to test the candidate behavior under different voting rules. The main objective of the first laboratory experiment conducted through the project was the analysis of the effects that the new Romanian mixed-member electoral system has on candidate behavior and upon the intra and interparty interactions. Thus, the design simulated elections in a mixed-member district (MMD) with 5 SMDs, where 3 parties with 5 candidates each run for office. In order to identify the effects of the new electoral system on the candidates’ behavior, we also simulated elections under the plurality voting rule, using the same setting. The design was pretested in late 2011 with MA students and afterwards the experiment was conducted with first and second year BA students from the National School of Political and Administrative Studies.

             In January, 2013 the lab experiment was adjusted and replicated in order to check the robustness of the results of the experiment conducted the previous year. As in the case of the first one, the main objective of the lab experiment was the analysis of different voting rules on candidates’ behavior. The adjusted experiment, similar to the previous one, consisted in simulating elections in a mixed-member district (MMD) with 5 SMDs, where 3 parties with 5 candidates each run for office. However, this time the rules under study not only consisted in the new Romanian system and the plurality vote, but also in proportional representation. The replication of the experiment was conducted with the participation of BA and MA students from Transilvania University of Brașov.

             Also with regard to the second specific objective, building on the results of the lab and field experiments we decided that it would be most fruitful to focus on just three voting rules, as they are expected to elicit the most promising results: plurality, simple majority and absolute majority. Thus, we conducted a round of simulations which aims to comparatively examine the evolution of electoral outcomes in three different societies, where each uses a different voting rule.  

 

           Concerning the third specific objective, throughout the timeframe of the project, the members of the research team published the following scientific papers:

-          Andra-Maria Roescu, 2012, Studying Causal Inference In Political Science. The Case Of Experiments, in “Analele Universitatii Oradea, International Relations and European Studies”, pp. 98-112.

-          Adrian Miroiu, Axiomatizing the Hirsch Index: Quantity and Quality Disjoined in „Journal of Infometrics” vol. 7 (2013), pp. 10-15

-          Adrian Miroiu, 2013, Responsiveness axioms and the majority rule, in „Economics Bulletin”, vol. 33, no. 1, pag 740-746.

-          Andra-Maria Roescu - Competiția intra și interpartinică în alegerile parlamentare din 2008 și 2012 din România [in Romanian; Intra and interparty competition in the 2008 and 2012 Romanian parliamentary elections], in Adrian Miroiu, Șerban Cerkez (coord.) Competiția politică în România, ed. Polirom, Iași.

-          Dana Irina Ioniță - Formarea guvernelor minoritare în Europa Centrală și de Est [in Romanian; The formation of minority goverments in Central and Eastern Europe], in Adrian Miroiu, Șerban Cerkez (coord.) Competiția politică în România, ed. Polirom, Iași.

-          Adrian Miroiu, How Many Athletes Qualified for the London Olympic Games?, in “Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology”, 65  (2014), p. 1728

-          Miroiu, Adrian Many-Valued Logic and Social Choice Theory: the Case of the Majority Rule, în Pârvu, I. et al.  (eds.), Romanian Studies in Philosophy of Science, Springer, Dordrecht, 2015

-          Adrian Miroiu, Mihai Păunescu, Gabriel-Alexandru Vîiu: Ranking Romanian academic departments in three fields of study using the g-index in “Quality in Higher Education”, 21(2), 2015, pag. 189-212, DOI: 10.1080/13538322.2015.1051794

-          Adrian Miroiu,2015, Despre rolul experimentelor în științele sociale. Cazul științei politice, in Flonta, M. et al. (eds.) Filosofia științelor umane. In memoriam Mihail Radu Solcan, University of Bucharest Publishing House, Bucharest, 2015, ISBN  978-606-16-0612-2.

-          Adrian Miroiu, Introducere, in Miroiu, Adrian and Iris Patricia Golopența, (coord.) Acțiune colectivă și bunuri comune în societatea românească, [in Romanian: Collective action and common goods in the Romanian society] Iași, Polirom.

-          Gabriel-Alexandru Vîiu, A theoretical evaluation of Hirsch-type bibliometric indicators confronted with extreme self-citation, “Journal of Informetrics”, 10/2 (2016), pp. 552–566.

-          Gabriel-Alexandru Vîiu, Mihai Păunescu, Adrian Miroiu Research-driven classification and ranking in higher education: An empirical appraisal of a Romanian policy experience, “Scientometrics”, 107/2 (2016), pp. 785– 805.

 

Also with regard to the third specific objective, the members of the research team presented the following scientific papers at national and international conferences:

-          Andra-Maria Roescu, Adrian Miroiu, Dana Irina Ioniță, Mirela Vlăsceanu - Candidate behavior under the 2008 Romanian electoral system. Evidence from the lab paper presented by  Andra-Maria Roescu and  Mirela Vlăsceanu at „5th Annual NYU-CESS Experimental Political Science Workshop” New York, United States of America, 1st – 5th of March, 2013.

-          Andra-Maria Roescu - Consequences of the 2008 Romanian electoral reform: candidates, parties and mechanical effects of the new electoral system, paper presented at “Political Theories And Electoral Practices In A Changing World” conference, at University of Oradea on 25th of May, 2012

-          Dana Irina Ioniță - Electoral Rules And Coalition Formation In Central And Eastern Europe paper presented at “Political Theories And Electoral Practices In A Changing World”  conference, at University of Oradea on 25th of May, 2012

-          Andra-Maria Roescu, Adrian Miroiu - Constraints and implications of a multilevel electoral system. Evidence from Romania paper presented by  Andra Maria Roescu at  „2nd Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association”, Berlin, Germany 21st – 23rd of June, 2012

-          Andra-Maria Roescu, Adrian Miroiu - The Effects of the new Romanian Electoral System on the Electoral Behavior of the candidates paper presented by Andra-Maria Roescu at „XXI World Congress of Political Science” organized by International Political Science Association, Madrid Spain 9th-12th of July, 2012

-          Dana Irina Ioniță - Coalition Formation at the Regional Level in Romania paper presented at „XXI World Congress of Political Science” organized by International Political Science Association, Madrid Spain 9th-12th of July, 2012

-          Adrian Miroiu - Choosing A Committee With A Non-Fixed Size  paper presented at „11th Meeting of Society for Social Choice and Welfare, 2012”, New Delhi, India, 15th – 21st of  August, 2012

-          Andra-Maria Roescu – Psychological effects of different voting rules. Evidence from Romania paper presented at  „3rd Annual General Conference of the European Political Science Association”, Barcelona, Spain, 20th – 22nd of June, 2013

-          Adrian Miroiu, The Majority Rule In A Three-Valued Logic Framework, paper presented at “The 12th Meeting of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare”, Boston USA, 18th – 21st June, 2014

-          Andra-Maria Roescu, The psychological and mechanical effects of voting rules. Evidence from the Romanian parliamentary elections paper presented at “The 12th Meeting of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare”, Boston USA, 18th – 21st June, 2014.

-          Gabriel-Alexandru Vîiu, Adrian Miroiu, Rank reversal in university league tables: a social choice approach, paper presented at Joint Conference on “Logic, Game Theory, and Social Choice 8” and “The 8th Pan-Pacific Conference on Game Theory”, Taipei, Taiwan, May 16-24 2015

-          Adrian Miroiu, Individuals, individual concepts and social choice, paper presented at Joint Conference on “Logic, Game Theory, and Social Choice 8” and “The 8th Pan-Pacific Conference on Game Theory”, Taipei, Taiwan, May 16-24, 2015

-          Gabriel-Alexandru Vîiu, Adrian Miroiu, Research-driven classification and ranking in higher education: An empirical appraisal of a Romanian policy experience, paper presented at “15th International Society of Scientometrics and Informetrics Conference”, Istanbul, Turkey, June 26th – July 4th 2015, published in  Salah, A.A., Tonta,Y., Salah, A.A.A., Sugimoto, C., Al, U. (Eds.): Proceedings of ISSI 2015 Istanbul (2015), Istanbul: Boğaziçi University Printhouse (ISBN 978-975-518-381-7), pp. 622–633

-          Adrian Miroiu - Aristotle’s Social Choice Function paper presented at “The 13th Meeting of the Society for Social Choice and Welfare”, in Lund, Sweden, 26.06 – 02.07.2016.

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