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SEPTEMBER 10 2012.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science

POL101 NOTES FROM SEPTEMBER 10, 2012 READINGS ELECTORAL INSIGHTS: ALL 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 constituency?) 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. 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 government 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? four criteria for assessing electoral systems: accountability, representativeness, fairn
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