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Political Science 1020E Lecture Notes - Party System, Proportional Representation, Australian Senate

Political Science
Course Code
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

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June 17, 2008
Types of Electoral Systems
First Past the Post (Single-Member Plurality System) Canada, the U.K
One-seat districts
Winner is one who wins a plurality of votes in a district
System tends to overcompensate winning parties or parties that are strongly
oEx: Bloc-Quebecois in Quebec
System penalizes small parties and independents
Often produces “landslide” victories for parties with less than 50% of the popular
Can tempt politicians to draw up electoral districts in such a way as to favour
certain parties
oUsually produces “majority governments”
Those with more than 50% of seats in the legislature
oDoes not usually give small, extremist parties parliamentary power
oIn a party system with more than 2 major parties, it tends to poorly reflect
the popular vote
oEncourages regional parties instead of broad-based parties
oMay encourage “gerrymandering”
oA country has 100 ridings
100 ridings = 100 seats in legislature
o4 main parties run in each riding
Riding 16 Results
Party A: 35%
Party B: 31%
Party C: 26%
Party D: 8%
Party A candidate is elected in Riding 16
oAll ridings decided like this, and this is the outcome:
Party C: 56 seats (38% of vote) MAJORITY
Party A: 34 seats (32% of vote)
Party B: 4 seats (24% of vote)
Party D: 6 seats (6% of vote)
o**NOTE**: popular vote (all votes for a party across the country) may not
reflect the percentage of seats
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In Canada
oHouse of Commons = 308 seats
Run-Off System France
Like “first past the post”, winner must win a majority of votes in district
oMajority = 50% +
If no candidate has a majority, lowest ranking candidate is dropped and another
ballot is held
oBallots continue to be held until one candidate has a majority
oBetter reflects the popular vote
Ex: In France, they have a maximum of 2 rounds of voting
All except top 2 candidates dropped for 2nd round
oRiding 87
Candidate #1: 40%
Candidate #2: 37%
Candidate #3: 23%
oNo winner, so Candidate #3 is dropped
oNew Results for Riding 87 after 2nd Ballot:
Candidate #2: 57%
Candidate #1: 43%
o**NOTE**: Candidate #2 won because most of the supporters of
Candidate #3 switched to her
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