POL201Y1 LECTURE 5 on February 5, 2013
ELECTORAL SYSTEM AND REPRESENTATION
Voting lodges sovereignty 'in the people'
-it legitimates government, leaders, and legislation
-obligates citizens to abide by government laws and policies
-it implies rights to criticize and you and I are responsible for government
-if you've participated in election, you can criticize within the government, not to overthrow the
-citizenship includes both rights and responsibilities to abide by the laws.
-voting elections and representation are features of modernization... it is not the direct democracy. We
have to move from direct democracy to represented democracy. As population has grown, we are
unable to apply direct democracy. The most common incident of direct democracy is the referendum. It
is submitted to public for rejection or approval. Ex. California: proposition 8. They need certain numbers
of partitions (signatures of public) to pass the policies. Most propositions are not that popular and well-
known, and it is difficult for people to think about certain issues. The purpose is to educate the public on
these issues. But, it is difficult to know what you should think about the public issues, and realize that
you would need represented democracy.
-in represented democracy, voters choose the leaders and these leaders make decisions on your behalf.
By this way, democracy is much easier.
-historically, democracy was extending the franchise and slow process. Different segments of population
were included in the franchise. Ex. male, white property owners were right to vote. We're excluding the
gender, race and class. But, property ownership (class) was diminished and it allowed white men to vote.
Then, race was disappeared. Finally, around ww1, many countries extended votes to women and
included all adult citizens.
-democratization has operated in this way,, gradual extension of franchise who were excluded along
these lines: class, race and gender.
-but, it is no longer work in franchise. It is either democratic or it isn't. For example, in South Africa,
there were regular elections but they didn't consider it as democratic bc they didn't include non-white
people to vote.
Types of electoral systems -there is no electoral mechanisms that are completely neutral. It will be beneficial for particular groups
and disadvantageous for particular groups.
-none of electoral systems preclude the possibility that anyone can be won. It must include that any
groups could win. Elections have to provide uncertainty. Otherwise, it is not a valid electoral mechanism.
-there are 2 different types of electoral system: majoritarian and proportional representation.
-1993: 83/150 countries used majority ruled electoral system
-they're plurality system: party does not need majority to win the election. You need more than any
other party/ candidate (aka past-the-post system). It is winner-takes-all system. If you have a single seat,
you automatically have winner-takes-all system. Candidates with most votes win and others lose. There
is no way to divide one sit in proportional way.
-countries are divided into single member states: in Canada, we call it as 'ridings'. Each riding is
represented in a parliament.
-ridings are drawn to equalize based on population. "equal representation" in in-put side.
-a first past the post system over-represents the winning party -example: October 2008 election:
-winning party shares of seats will be higher than the popular vote.
-the spatial concentration is absolutely crucial.
-Canada has strong regional voting which becomes a problem. A party will do poorly if the party has the
spatial dispersed supports. Even if party has lots of popular support, if they don't have a spatial
concentration and support, they won't win the election.
-all you need is more votes than your opposite party. If you need 35% of votes but you won by 90% this
causes a problem bc 55% of votes are being wasted where they could be helpful in other ridings to win
-ex. majority black district.
-votes tend to be cl