Electoral Competition: New Measures and Applications

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Splinter, James Gordon Ross




The thesis presents three papers on electoral competition. In the first chapter, a quantitative measure of political competition is computed for Canadian parliamentary elections over the history of the modern Canadian state from 1867 to 2011. The measure of political competition, electoral risk, measures the probability that the incumbent government will lose the next election. The extent to which the economic indicators can be used in an explanation of electoral success is investigated. Current measures of electoral competition are improved upon and demonstrated to be robust. Amongst conflicting recent literature, this paper offers evidence of the continued existence of the 'economic voter' in Canada. In the second chapter, I examine the length of a Canadian parliament. The methodology employed uses survival analysis, allowing for the estimation of the dynamic probability that an incumbent government will call an election. The analysis incorporates principal components, along with other covariates, such as measures of political competition, to accurately estimate when an election is called. An optimal stopping rule is employed for the election decision and a Cox proportional hazard model is used to estimate the hazard function. The results show that Canadian governments engage in election timing and they are influenced by the prevailing level of electoral competition as measured by the probability of losing the next election. In the third chapter, I examine several indexes of political competition. I consider these indexes as reflecting different dimensions of an underlying degree of competition using a multiple-indicators multiple-causes model (MIMIC). A variety of economic and socio-political causal variables are employed in the models and investigated for significance. The resulting index of political competition for Canada shows that competition was highest from the 1950s to the early 1980s, before the level of competition decreased for 20 years until the early 2000s. In addition, the estimated indexes show that political competition has been elevated for the period of 2004 to 2015.






Carleton University

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Theses and Dissertations

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