Book

The Politics of Electoral Systems

Edited by Michael Gallagher and Paul Mitchell

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199257560
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603280 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199257566.001.0001
The Politics of Electoral Systems

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Electoral systems are the central political institution in representative democracies. They convert votes into seats and structure the choices facing voters. They also affect the behaviour of political parties, individual MPs, and candidates. This book looks at three kinds of issues. First, it focuses on the ‘political science of electoral systems’, that is, it joins the canon of works that have attempted to explore various relationships between electoral systems on the one hand and ‘outputs’ such as government formation, the behaviour of political actors, the representativeness of parliaments, and the quality of governance. Second, while quite a lot is known about generic families of electoral systems, such as ‘plurality rule’ or ‘proportional representation’, much less is known about variation within these broad types and how exactly a given electoral system ‘really works’ in a particular country. Thus, the book includes detailed studies of the operation of electoral systems in 22 countries. Third, it studies the ‘politics of electoral systems’. It treats each country’s electoral system as, potentially at least, constituting a political issue in its own right. It establishes the reasons behind the initial adoption of an electoral system and discusses who supports the current electoral system and who opposes it, who benefits from it and who loses out, reviewing the current debate in each country on the question of electoral reform. This highlights issues relevant to normative debates about which electoral systems ‘work well’ and which do not, which ones operate uncontentiously, and which ones are a focus of division in the countries employing them. It reviews these questions by in-depth studies of 22 countries – chosen to represent a range of different electoral systems and located in all continents of the world – along with a number of chapters supplying comparative analysis.

Keywords: electoral systems; elections; votes; parliaments; political parties; representativeness; electoral reform; political institutions; party systems

Book.  688 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Electoral Systems in The Politics of Electoral Systems

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France: Stacking the Deck in The Politics of Electoral Systems

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The United Kingdom: Plurality Rule Under Siege in The Politics of Electoral Systems

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