POLS 120 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Closed List, Unimodality, Proportional Representation

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19-03-2018
1
Legislatures in Democratic Political Regimes
Unicameral: one chamber
o Ex. Israeli Knesset, Swedish Riksdag
Bicameral: two chambers of equal or unequal powers.
o Ex. U.S. Congress, British Parliament
Why two?
o Loer haer:
Representation of smaller geographical localities (electoral districts)
Ideologial sapshot of soiet espeiall uder PR sstes
Responsiveness to voters (ex. more members, more frequent elections)
o Upper haer:
Federalism (i.e. representation of larger sub-national political units, such
as U.S. states or German länder).
Represetatio of the estalishet e. the British house of Lords,
which once consisted of hereditary nobles and Church of England
bishops; today, most of its members are appointed).
“oer seod thought i.e. part of sste of heks ad alaes
Legislative Elections
Frequency:
o Fixed (ex. election every 4 years) vs. Variable terms (government chooses
election dates).
Purpose:
o Representative democracy and majority rule (hence the goal of winning >50% of
seats, because most decisions inside legislatures are made by majority vote).
Method:
o Franchise (i.e. who can vote, who can be elected)
o Ballot type
Categorical: the voter chooses one option; either one candidate or a
group list of adidates.
Ordinal: voter can rank options in order of preference.
Combination: several different ways of choosing.
o Districting
Size: one-member vs. multi-member vs. country-wide
Boundaries: fixed vs. subject to gerrymandering (i.e. drawing of
boundaries for partisan advantage)
Formula (i.e. translation of votes into seats)
There are various formulas that countries may uses.
Single-Member District Systems (SMDs)
Categorical ballot
o Each party submits one candidate per district
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19-03-2018
2
o Voters choose one candidate only
The winner in each district is decided by the plurality of votes (i.e. whoever wins the
largest number of votes not necessarily the majority wins the single parliamentary
seat for that district).
A part’s atioal eletio result is a siple su of its district victories (i.e. the number
of districts won = the number of seats this party will have in parliament).
Duerger’s La
“MD eletios ill, oer tie, result i to-part sstes.
Why?
o The Mehaial Effet: the atheatial proess of alulatig seat shares
from vote shares (as shown in previous slides) is advantageous to larger parties
ad disadatageous to saller oes, hih leads to…
o Psychological effects:
Voters do ot at to aste their otes o sall parities that are ot
likely to win aa, so the ill ote strategiall for oe of the large
parties, tpiall oe the regard as the lesser eil.
Elites abandon smaller parties (do not want to stand for election, or
provide financing, or otherwise support them) because such parties are
unlikely to win; over time, the smaller parties decline and disappear.
Likewise, elites will not start new parties due to presumption that they
will fall against the large, established ones.
Nowadays, this law seems to work only in the U.S.
In other large countries that use SMD (ex. Britain, Canada, India) we see 3, 4, or multi-
party systems.
Why?
o Perhaps politics in countries like Britain have changed in important ways since
Duerger’s tie e. the uer of diesios of opetitio a hae
increased).
o Perhaps the U.“. eeptio has to do ith “MD plus other features of its
political system (ex. presidentialism, federalism, checks and balances, private
financing of parties and election campaigns).
o Perhaps victory or defeat in elections is not the only thing that voters care about.
“oe people a ote epressiel to ake a stateet aout their
values.
o Perhaps Duverger mistook the direction of causality (i.e. it may be that party
sstes ause eletoral sstes, ot the other a aroud; eletoral rules are
consciously designed to serve party interests).
o Perhaps Duverger focused on less important variable (i.e. maybe it is social
cleavages, not electoral systems, that shape the character of party systems).
SMD Systems: Summary
Pros:
o Usually (not always) produces decisive outcomes.
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