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POL101Y1 Chapter Notes -Direct Democracy

Political Science
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SEPTEMBER 10, 2012
The choice of an electoral system hinges on two sets of judgments:
empirical judgments about the likely consequences of the various options
normative judgments about how "good" or "bad," and "important" or "trivial"
these consequences are.
Electoral system: set of rules which govern the process by which citizens' opinions about
candidates and parties are expressed in votes and by which these votes are thereafter
translated into the description of decision-makers
An electoral system comprises
constituency structure (how many representatives are to be elected in each
ballot structure (how are electors supposed to express their opinions?)
electoral formula (what conditions must be fulfilled in order to be elected?)
Why democracy:
policies adopted by elected representatives are more likely to reflect the views of
the majority.
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conflict is more likely to be dealt with peacefully in a democracy.
Why elections?
holding of elections increases legislators' sensitivity to public opinion: there will
be congruence between what citizens want and what governments do.
Accountability: to be elected they will propose policies that correspond to
the views of the greatest number of electors and they will implement
these policies if they are elected in order to increase their probability of
being re-elected next time.
Reflection: If electors vote for candidates who best represent their views,
the legislature is likely to reflect the overall distribution of: resemble those
that citizens would have made in a direct democracy: our interests are
more likely to be defended by legislators who are similar to us
Allow citizens to resolve their conflicts peacefully.
they believe that some basic rights will not be infringed upon by the
they believe that even though they may have lost this time there is a real
possibility that they will win another time
even though they do not like the outcome, they recognize that the
procedure is legitimate
Does each vote count equally?
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