Lecture 8 %28March 8%29.doc

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18 Apr 2012
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Thursday, March-08-12
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POL111: Lecture 8
Canada in a Comparative Perspective
Elections and Electoral Systems:
Classifying Democracies
o How they hold elections and how elections work
o Electoral systems are different from systems of government.
Electoral systems are what determine who goes to get into
government
o They are a collection of laws that set the game between politicians
and voters or parties and candidates
o They are rules that determine the types of choices the voter makes,
the types of candidates that are elected and say something about the
values of the countries in terms of what is important in its elections
Why does it matter
o More countries are becoming democratic around the world
o It’s about three times more, and elections are booming as well
Are elections simple
o it is a period of time in which politicians stand before people and
make arguments as to why they should have their support
o And on election day the voters respond by casting ballots to show
their support for particular parties or candidates
o The votes are counted and seats in the legislature/power are
distributed
o this applies to Canada with major parties at the federal level have
massive campaigns and on election day eligible citizens vote, the
votes are counted and the candidates are sent to the parliament
Are elections simple
o The electoral system can be seen as an exchange rate between votes
and seats, ex. when you want to exchange Canadian dollars to euro,
for each dollar, you get some amount of money back that equals to
that value
o When you hand over a certain number of votes how many seats does
the party get
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Thursday, March-08-12
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o There are questions about how many votes did you get and the types
of votes, and how many are needed for seats. As a result there are
different electoral systems that indicate different values
Three Dimensions
o District magnitude-the number of seats in a geographic area, the
number of politicians that will get elected in the area
o electoral formula-Mathematical formula to count votes
District Magnitude
o In Canada the number of electoral districts is 308 in the federal level
o 1 politician gets elected from each district
o The district magnitude in Canada is one
o In proportional systems, the degree to which it matches seats to
votes is limited to the number of representatives, in Netherlands the
whole country is one district
o In Canada the vast majority select one politician but some times in
the prairies multiple politicians were selected from a district hence
DMs do not have to be the same in every electoral system
o Determines relationship between voters and politicians, where the
DM is one there is one politician who answers you
o It is useful to have more than one politician to respond to you
because they compete to get people support them, so they would
provide you with better government services
o The bad thing is that it is hard to hold them accountable for
government actions, which one do you blame?
Ballot structure
o In Canada at every province there is a ballot and you choose one
politician as indicated by their names and parties
o In other cases you can say which you don’t like, or the order of the
parties or candidates
o If there is a ballot in which the parties decide who the candidates are
then the voter has less say, but if the voter decides the candidates
they have more say
o Party discipline-if you rely on party label the politician will do what
the leader wants*
Electoral Formula
o Determines how votes are turned to seats
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