Maximal modularity and the optimal size of parliaments

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An important question in representative democracies is how to determine the optimal parliament size of a given country. According to an old conjecture, known as the cubic root law, there is a fairly universal power-law relation, with an exponent close to 1/3, between the size of an elected parliament and the country’s population. Empirical data in modern European countries support such universality but are consistent with a larger exponent. In this work, we analyse this intriguing regularity using tools from complex networks theory. We model the population of a democratic country as a random network, drawn
from a growth model, where each node is assigned a constituency membership sampled from an available set of size D. We calculate analytically the modularity of the population and find that its functional relation with the number of constituencies is strongly non-monotonic, exhibiting a maximum that depends on the population size. The criterion of maximal modularity allows us to predict that the number of representatives should scale as a power-law in the size of the population, a finding that is qualitatively confirmed by the empirical analysis of real-world data
Original languageEnglish
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 22 Jun 2021


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