This is a very simple post about the association of political diversity with good or bad outcomes.
Elections took place recently in Portugal and Spain. In these elections the public voted for a more diverse parliament than usual. A frequent scare tactic that political parties at the center use is to claim that disperse voting will lead to lots of small parties in parliament and as a result the country will be ungovernable. I decided to have a very simple and quick look to see if the claim holds up.
For measures of political diversity I looked up the most recent electoral results (vote percentage) of the majority of EU countries (by looking at wikipedia reports of the elections). Then I calculated the diversity as the “Inverse Simpson Index” – the more diverse the political voter turnout is the higher the index will be. For measures of good political outcomes I looked at the Human Development Index (HDI) data from the United Nations. The test is simple: if higher diversity is bad for governance, then the diversity measure and the HDI will have a negative correlation. Do they?
So here is the first order result:
The plot shows only a weak association – but the opposite of the one predicted by the claim. In this data, the more electoral diversity, the higher the human development index score. It’s obvious this proves nothing rigorously, but if anything more electoral diversity is associated with more human development in a set of reasonable comparable countries (i.e. the EU). This may be because political concentration leads to corruption, it may be because a culture for diversity is also associated with a culture that leads to development, or the data may be confounded for many other variables that matter. However at the very least then, the claim that “votes should be concentrated to avoid problematic governance and bad outcomes” can be discarded if no better evidence is produced.