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Title: Policy Responsiveness in Different Electoral Regimes: Majoritarian vs. Proportional Representation in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic
Authors: Negron-Reichard, Diego
Advisors: Londregan, John
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Certificate Program: Latin American Studies Program
Class Year: 2018
Abstract: There are two main approaches to choosing legislators in a representative democracy, one majoritarian and the other proportional. However, each approach to democracy implies a tradeoff between two desirable political features: accountability and representativeness. The existing literature has demonstrated that differences in policy outcomes across nations can be explained in part by their respective constitutional designs, including their electoral systems, and that these differences mirror the accountability-representativeness tradeoff. Within this broader academic inquiry, the specific research question guiding this thesis is: how do electoral rules in majoritarian and proportional democracies mediate policy outcomes? To study this, I use a dichotomous case study model between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The overall case study is divided into three component parts. The first one is a review and analysis of the 2016 general elections in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. The next two cases focus on disaster-related scenarios, beginning with the Zika viral outbreak and then examining several hurricanes affecting the islands. The thesis provides persuasive evidence that simple plurality systems allow electoral challengers to have a previously underappreciated policy impact, and that these systems tend to respond to crisis scenarios better than proportional systems. In Puerto Rico, even though the electoral challenger did not win the general elections, some of her policies were later adopted by the party in power. On the contrary, while the electoral challenger in the Dominican Republic secured seats in the National Assembly, this did not translate to a substantive policy impact. In the context of natural disasters, Puerto Rico performed better than the Dominican Republic. The responses to the Zika and different hurricanes highlighted how parties in the Dominican Republic mobilized their entire militancy and engaged in a level of political bickering that hampered the central government's response. In Puerto Rico, the central government offered a coordinated response that was not mediated by opposition parties. Policy makers should give serious considerations to these outlined findings, for the constitutional design they adopt will shape and restrict their future policy outcomes. The thesis concludes by outlining a set of policy recommendations that attempt to bridge the accountability-representativeness gap in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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