A+ Notes: Electoral Systems

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1 Oct 2011
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Electoral Systems
single member plurality sys (Can, USA, UK)
proportional representation
single transferable vote
An electoral sys is a set of institutions, the rules of the game, which translates votes in #
of seats
SMP is better for accountability, PR is better for representation
SMP
country divided into constituencies
one member per constituency
candidate with plurality of votes wins in each constituency
diff b/w majority (50% +1 vote) vs plurality (no single other person has more votes)
Criticism : distorts will of the electorate (discrepancy b/w popular vote & #seats)
rewards regionally concentrated support (ex. Bloc quebecois)
punishes non-territorial support
ex. 1993 election PC 16% of vote & 2 seats, Bloc 14.5% of vote & 54 seats
in Can, would be difficult to change sys b/c Bloc has regional support
PR (most common)
% of seats = % of popular vote
Party List PR: Each party prepares a list & members are elected from that list
(not on exam)Mixed Member PR: some seats elected by SMP, others assigned to parties to
rectify any distortions
Criticism : empowers fringe parties (typically need min. threshold to get any seats)
minority gov’t leads to coalition gov’t (concessions to fringe parties w/ bal. of power)
reduces accountability of gov’t to voters – no MP for particular constituency, coalitions
(hard to remove)
Benefits: distorts regionally concentrated support
gages party commitment to minority groups (in Party List, can alternate male/female)
STV
preferential voting sys
candidates are ranked ordered – less likely that the least favourite candidate wins
threshold, often (votes/seats) +1 = 1 seat
wasted votes are transferred
Criticism : complicated
cycling majorities (Arrow’s Paradox)
person 1: A>B>C
person 2: B>C>A
person 3: C>A>B
majority preference?
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