Preference vote and intra-party competition in open list PR systems

José Antonio Cheibub, Gisela Sin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Open list proportional representation (PR) systems require that candidates seek personal votes in order to be successful. This feature of the system is considered to lead to intense competition among co-partisans and, ultimately, to weak electoral and legislative parties, narrow public policies, localism, clientelism, and corruption. We examine the distribution of personal votes among candidates from the same party for seven elections to the Brazilian national chamber of deputies (1990–2014). These elections are widely seen as hyper-competitive, particularly among candidates from the same list. Yet, the patterns in the data are not compatible with such a view. We find that the level of overall competition is considerably lower than the absolute number of parties and candidates competing would suggest. More significantly, we find that the number of viable candidates within party lists is limited and that their votes are distributed in such a way that indicates a contained competition among co-partisans during the election. These findings add to recent work that builds a more nuanced view of ballot structure, competition, and personalism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)70-95
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Theoretical Politics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • Proportional representation
  • elections in Brazil
  • electoral systems
  • intra-party competition
  • open list PR
  • personal vote

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Preference vote and intra-party competition in open list PR systems'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this