Why care at all about elections?
– Democratic Legitimacy
– Reveal Democratic preferences
It is the voters chance to voice their opinion and vote for a party whom they believe will best represent
their interests in parliament. If we don't care, elections become a way for people to legitimize themselves
Why care about specific electoral rules?
– Cairns 1968: The electoral system is to the politician like the price system is to the business
– Electoral rules translate votes into seats
– create distortions
The key thing to realize that no translation is perfect. When you change the votes into seats, there will be
distortions. The best we can do is approximate through the rules we create.As citizens you are electing
between different menus of distortions. You have to chose the menu you believe is the least bad or the
one you believe has the proper distortions.
How to pick between electoral rules?
– which is best?
Those who are in charge are those who have one under the existing system, this is what makes it difficult
to change the system because no winning party wants to change the system which allows them to
succeed. British Columbia has had a referendum to change the election system however it failed just as in
Ontario and PEI. The example of success is New Zealand, they have moved from our system to a mixed
proportion system, they recently had another referendum and decided to continue with the new system.
Proportional or Non-Proportional
– winner takes allegiance
– Plurality rule (FPTP/SMP)
– who do I like the most
– Majority rule
– Run off (you have a number of elections, if no candidate has a majority, you have another
– preferential voting (IRV[instant run off voting]/AV)
– Usually single member districts
– Pure FPTP: (first past the post)
– French Presidential Election (run off, rank your candidates)
Majority: you need at least 50% plus 1Plurality: you need more votes than the next candidate
Pros and Cons: You will get a majority government with a plurality rule election. If you care about
representation this is a problem but it is not if what you want is stability. Direct line of accountability
between MP and voter. Plurality systems reward geographic support. Major parties become regional
parties and not a green party (winning seats under a non proportional system than under a proportional
system) con is the idea of strategic voting, the voter does not vote for his first preference. Voting for
someone to ensure the party you do not like does not win. The problem is that elections are supposed to
reveal voter preferences, this system does not.
– Allocate seats in