POLSCI 1G06 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Plurality Voting System, Direct Democracy

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Political Science 1G06 2014 Lecture 10a: Institutionalizing Democracy
-Our political system is a Representative Democracy rather than a
Direct democracy
-Elected representatives in government are supposed to give voice to
the will of the people
-Question:
-How do you link the will of “the entire people” to a government of
just a few of those people?
-How do you filter down from the votes of millions into the voices of
the few?
-The institutional mechanism chosen to sort millions of votes into a
few hundred representatives is profoundly political
-Dickerson and Flanagan: “The result obtained from an election
depends upon the method that is employed”
-Electoral systems are political
-There are a number of different electoral mechanisms in use amongst
the world’s democracies
-1. Single Member Plurality System – First past the post – Winner
takes all
-This is the institutional procedure used in Canada, Britain, US
- It is marked by a distortion between the votes cast and the electoral
outcomes produced
- 1. Parties with geographically concentrated support may see their
influence magnified
- 2. Parties with support that is spread too thin geographically may see
their influence reduced
-Some problems with respect to the democratic character of the
results:
- It tends to produce “artificial majorities”
- It tends to suppress the political power of minorities
- It tends to lead to voter disenchantment with the act of voting
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