Title: Crashing the Gate: The Effects of Parliamentary Fragmentation on Democratic Outcomes
Abstract: The upsurge in parliamentary representation for electorally marginal parties with extreme or anti-system platforms has generated concern over the effects that such representation can have on party system efficiency and representativeness. In this paper, I use an expansive collection of elections from European parliamentary democracies and a series of regression discontinuity designs to test whether the addition of what I term ``gate-crashing" parties undermines parliamentary stability or significantly alters the perceptions and behaviors of voters. I find that such an addition has no discernible causal effect on traditional measures of parliamentary stability, including the size of the governing coalition, the size of the largest party, or even future levels of parliamentary fragmentation. However, the inclusion of a gate-crashing party does lead to a dramatic increase in wasted votes in the following elections. This effect is normatively worrisome, given the strong connection between wasted votes and dissatisfaction with democracy.