Identifying Majority Preferences: Median or Plurality Voter?

Ian Budge, Hans Keman, Michael McDonald and Paul Pennings

in Organizing Democratic Choice

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654932
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741685 | DOI:

Series: Comparative Politics

Identifying Majority Preferences: Median or Plurality Voter?

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In building an alternative representational theory to cope with party divergence we have to start again from the base, with a new interpretation of the interactions between voters, electors and parties. A major insight from deconstructing the convergence model is that electors are not voters. Electors are relatively free to state general public policy preferences on any topic pollsters care to ask them about. Voters are constrained to express their preferences, in general elections, by voting for one of the parties – and its policy programme. Party votes are the authoritative expressions of opinion in party democracies but rarely produce a majority for any one party. This raises the question of whether the median or the plurality party are ‘carriers’ of the popular preference. In practice the question is resolved because their policy preferences generally point the same way and both tend to participate in government. The consequences of joint representation are examined spatially for the United States.

Keywords: electors; voters; popular majority; preference carriers; median party; plurality party

Chapter.  13158 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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