From Polls to Cabinets in the Netherlands

To follow up on two themes from yesterday, Eric Voeten has a very interesting post about the looming election in the Netherlands. One point is that in their system the election results underdetermine political outcomes because coalition-formation is hard to predict. They have polls that tell you how many seats different parties are likely to get, but prediction markets have no idea what the resulting government will look like:


Voeten observes:

Some voters are trying to anticipate how their choice will affect the coalition formation process: about one-fifth of all voters says that they will vote strategically. This will mean different things to different people. For example, some may allocate their vote in a way that they think will maximize the probability of keeping the PVV and Geert Wilders out of office whereas others are motivated by keeping the PvdA out. If all of this illustrates one general point, it may well be that Andrew Gelman is right that “elections are inherently more unstable when more than two candidates are involved”.

That in turn serves as a reminder that contrary to what I sometimes here people say, proportional systems don’t necessarily eliminate strategic voting. Instead, they change the nature of the strategic calculus.