Working Paper No. 1002

Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden

Published: January 17, 2014Pages: 32Keywords: Preferential Voting; Accountability; Regression Discontinuity DesignJEL-codes: H70

Preferential Voting, Accountability and Promotions into Political Power: Evidence from Sweden Olle Folke, Torsten Persson and Johanna Rickne

Preferential voting has been introduced in a number of proportional election systems over the last 20 years, mainly as a means to increase the accountability of individual politicians. But most of these reforms have been criticized as blatant failures. In this paper, we discover a genuinely new fact, which calls into question this negative evaluation. We show that preferential voting in a general election can operate as a stand-in internal primary election for top party positions. To do this, we rely on a unique data set from four waves of Swedish local elections, which includes every nominated politician in each of 290 municipal assemblies.

We use a natural-experiment (regression-discontinuity) approach to estimate the causal effect of winning the most preferential votes on becoming the local party leader, and find that narrow "list winners" are over 50 percent more likely to become party leaders than their runner-ups. Comparing across politicians, the effect of list winning is the strongest for competent politicians, who are also more likely to draw preferential votes than mediocre politicians. Comparing across municipalities, the response to narrow list winning is the strongest within unthreatened governing majorities, where voters also use the preferential vote the most frequently.

Johanna Rickne


Mob: +46 70 433 7388

Olle Folke


Mob: +46 70 367 0242

Sick of Inequality?

An Introduction to the Relationship between Inequality and Health

Sick of Inequality.jpg

In this book Andreas Bergh, Therese Nilsson, IFN and Lund University, and Daniel Waldenström, IFN and Paris School of Economics, France, review the latest research on the relationship between inequality and health. What does inequality mean for our health? Does increasing income inequality affect outcomes such as obesity, life expectancy and subjective well-being?


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

Research Institute of Industrial Economics, Grevgatan 34 - 2 fl, Box 55665, SE-102 15 Stockholm, Sweden | Phone: +46-(0)8-665 45 00 |