Mafalda Pratas

Political Scientist

Curriculum vitae

Department of Government

Harvard University


"Polarization and the decline of electoral accountability" working paper available

Experimental and observational evidence showing that higher polarization makes voters more likely to forgo accountability when they go to the polls. Comparative data from 63 elections in 26 countries and original experimental data from the United States, United Kingdom and Spain (N=4200).

"Forgoing Accountability: rational trade-offs or motivated reasoning?" working paper available

Voters do not always sanction poorly performing incumbents when they go to the polls. Many researchers have worried that this breakdown of accountability is a major normative failure of real democracies. However, I show that partisan motivated reasoning plays a limited role and many voters consciously decide to forgo accountability to satisfy other goals. Moderates are the least likely to forgo accountability. The result replicates experimentally in three advanced democracies.

"Geographic Inequalities in Proportional Representation"
(with J.Fernandes and M.Won), under review  (R&R at European Journal of Political Research)

Do representatives provide equal representation to each place in their district or do they favor some places, creating winners and losers of representation? While the impact of geography on representation has been extensively examined in majoritarian systems, we know little about the geographical losers of representation in PR systems. Using 20 years of legislative speeches in Portugal, cross-referenced with Google Places data, we show that there are significant deviations from the proportional ideal.

"Descriptive representation of the working-class and its trade-offs: evidence from Brazil"  (with A.Yakter and J.Fernandes). Experimental design in progress.

"U.S. Republican voters cherish political outsiders" in progress

Republican voters are much more likely to vote for political outsiders than voters who identify as Democrats, independents, non-partisans, and voters from other advanced democracies. For Republicans, outsider-ness is a positive valence advantage, as valuable as other indicators of quality office-holders. Conjoint experimental evidence.

"Elected outsiders and the quality of democracy"
(with F. Bizzarro and A.Watanabee) in progress  
We separate the consequences of electing political outsiders from the secular trends that also make their success more likely. Estimates of the effect of elected outsiders on democratic quality along multiple dimensions.

"Parties and Party Systems"
in Oxford Handbook of Portuguese Politics (with F. Bizzarro). 2022. Oxford University Press.

In-depth analysis of the Portuguese party system, including its origins, evolution, party organizations, and dimensions of competition, in the last 50 years, in comparative perspective with other European and third-wave democracies.

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