POLI 1F90 Lecture Notes - Universal Suffrage, Secret Ballot, E-Democracy

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Thursday January 17th, 2013
Poli Lecture Elections
Slide 1: Elections
- most obvious and important manifestation of democracy
- about 2/3s if humanity pick their own leaders
- authoritarian states have elections too
- Soviet Union, China, Iraq
- Mexico “electoral alchemy” ensured 70 year rule of PRI
- In the US the people don’t pick the president, the electoral college does
- The electoral commission in mexico would manipulate it so that one part
would win every election
Side 2: 2013 elections (not on exam)
- Iran
- Pakistan
- Israel (next week)
- Kenya
- Germany
- Italy
- British Columbia (Ontario)
- Australia
- Chile
Slide 3: types of democracy
- direct democracy : exemplified by 5th century BCE Athens
- representative democracy: emerges in 18th century Europe
- digital democracy??
o Worry about whether or not stuff works
o Fraud
o Intergenerational gap (older people use computer less)
o Not everyone has a computer or wifi
Slide 4: Why representative democracy?
- expansion of franchise
- citizens lack time for legislation
- idea is indirect rule through elected agents representative democracy
- 18 million Canadians wont fit in the House of Commons
Slide 5: Digital democracy??
- a return to the Greek ideal?
- Used in leadership contests
- But… technological problems, favors wealthy
- 2.1 billion internet users (30% of world population)
- china has their own internet
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Slide 6: Purpose
- elections are a technology for converting the preferences of the electorate
into sitting governments
- current issue:
o what electoral system is best?
o Turnout
o Depends on your normative
o What are the 2 main types of electoral? Which one is best? (exam
question)
Slide 7: features of electoral systems in democracies
- accountability
- universal adult franchise
- (theoretically) competitive
- conduct of actual election: no bribes or threats; secret ballot; accurate and
speedy counting; appeal possible…
Slide 8: what do elections do?
- Positive view: allows citizens to select government; influence public policy;
acquire representation
- Sinister view: elections used to channel dissent; participation limited to
occasional, sanctioned ceremony, legitimize ‘the system’
Slide 9: do elections perform these functions?
- in many democracies voters don’t directly select executive (US presidential
election; Canadian PM)
- accountability; undermined by party discipline in Canada. On what basis
does MP vote? As trustee? Party loyalist? Constituency representative?
Slide 10: Do elections perform these functions?
- legitimacy: ‘ we have a mandate to govern’
- 1988 federal election: A mandate to negotiate FTA? Only 43% of votes
- 1993 federal election: Liberals elected but did not get rid of GST
Slide 11: Electoral rules (p.269)
- change rules, change outcome
- rules govern timing elections, term limits, proportion of vote needed for
victory, size of nature constituencies…
- who gets to vote?
o 18 adults
o some countries have people aged 17, 21
Tuesday January 22nd, 2013
Slide 12: Countries where 16 year-olds can vote
- Australia
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