Dissertation Defense: Jon Santucci

Candidate Name: Jon Santucci

Major: Government

Advisor: Hans Noel, Ph.D.

Title: Three Articles on Proportional Representation in American Cities

This dissertation gives the first quantitative account of the adoption and repeal of proportional representation via the single transferable vote (PR-STV, STV, or PR) in American cities. Who enacted it and why? Who repealed it and why? Did party discipline vary predictably with known features of the STV rule?

Minority parties and incumbent-party defectors colluded to impose PR elections. Both sought direct access to power, and defectors sought to end direct primaries. PR was stable in a city as long as its second-largest party had a veto in government. In cities whose legislatures had plenary power, this veto flowed from control of the median council vote. In New York City, veto power flowed from control of either executive office or the “local law” threshold in council. When the second-largest party did not control a veto, it colluded with the largest party to repeal PR. It did so to absorb smaller parties’ voters.

Further, legislative discipline flagged when parties endorsed more than one popular candidate. I give circumstantial evidence that low party discipline resulted from a party’s accumulation of popular incumbents.

Consistent with other literature, I find that an increase in the number of parties precedes the adoption of PR. A difference is that incumbent-party defection takes place at the same time as PR’s adoption. Furthermore, I find that legislative side-switching in a multi-party coalition is not sufficient to cause PR’s repeal. Rather, the second-largest party can switch legislative sides because parties smaller than it want to keep PR in place. When a small party or fragment of the largest party switches sides, however, the second-largest party attempts to repeal PR.

I draw on two new sets of data. One comprises election and referendum returns in three similar cities that chose different electoral rules. The second comprises 5,127 roll-call votes, 126 unique legislators, 1,011 rounds of STV vote-counting, 1,001 candidates, and their party affiliations over 25 elections in three representative cities: Cincinnati (1929-57); New York City (1937-47); and Worcester, Mass. (1949-61).

Monday, May 15, 2017 at 1:00pm to 3:00pm

Edward B. Bunn, S.J. Intercultural Center, 662
37th and O St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events, Dissertation Defense


Georgetown College, Government, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences



Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Paula Evans

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