Comparative Politics

Pre-Electoral Coalitions: Insights into the Boundaries of Political Parties



Finnish elections use an open-list proportional representation system, and parties may form pre-electoral coalitions (PECs) in the form of joint lists. We document that PECs are more common between parties of equal size and similar ideology, and when elections are more disproportional or involve more parties. Using difference-in-differences and density discontinuity designs, we illustrate that voters punish coalescing parties and target personal votes strategically within the coalitions, and that PECs are formed with the particular purpose of influencing the distribution of power. They increase small parties' chances of acquiring leadership positions, lead to more dispersed seat distributions, and sometimes prevent absolute majorities. We discuss the implications of these findings for the boundaries of political parties.

Version notes

Revised manuscript.


Thumbnail image of HVMT_manuscript_20220719.pdf


Log in or register with APSA to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting and Discussion Policy [opens in a new tab] – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here [opens in a new tab] .