220 American Government and Politics
Kenneth Janda, Instructor
Week 5: Elite-Mass Linkage
Lecture 1: Varieties of Electoral Systems
Differences between the US and Europe in institutional mechanisms
- Trias Politica (defined in Slomp, 50-51)
- Latin for the executive, judicial, and executive powers of government
- These powers are separate in the US
- They are united in Europe
- The European style of democracy is "parliamentary democracy"
- The executive resides in parliament, which is dominant
- The judiciary plays a limited role, with limited powers of judicial review, if any.
- Parliamentary elections are the important elections in Europe
- They are general elections in the sense that they choose all seats in the national parliament
- They usually don't choose regional or local offices
- They are usually unpredictable, so not carefully planned in advance.
- They usually require only a simple choice by the voter.
- The electoral systems themselves vary widely
- Only Britain has a system remorely similar to ours.
- The basic difference is between electoral systems that emphasize majority representation
- United States
- To a lesser extent, France
- And electoral systems that try to achieve proportional representation
- To explain differences in methods of voting, we must first consider district magnitude--the number of members elected to parliament from each district
SINGLE-MEMBER DISTRICTS: Only one representative is elected from each district.
- Simple plurality vote ("first-past-the-post"):
- The candidate who receives the largest number of votes wins.
- I.e., a person may win with less than a majority.
- [The U.S. & Britain use this system.]
- Majority vote:
- Requires a majority of the vote (50% plus 1) to win.
- May require repeated ballots to produce a winner.
- Simple plurality usually decides the second ballot:
- If no candidate wins a majority on the first round, a second vote is taken (usually within a couple of weeks) and the plurality rule applies.
- [France and Russia use this. Similar to the run-off primary in the south.]
- Alternative vote:
- The voter indicates a 1st choice, 2nd choice, and so on.
- [Used in Australia]
- Approval voting:
- Voters vote for all the candidates they prefer, without ranking choices.
- [A recent favorite of some political scientists.]
MULTI-MEMBER DISTRICTS: N representatives are elected in each district (where N > 1).
- Simple plurality vote:
- The N candidates who receive the most votes win.
- This usually results in one party sweeping all the seats to be elected.
- [Used in 1964 to elect 177 members to the Illinois House of Representatives.
- Each party agreed to nominate 118 candidates (2/3 of the House of 177).
- The Democrats won all 118 from their list.
- he Republicans elected the top 59 from their list.
- Methods for ensuring some minority representation:
- Single vote:
- Every voter is given only one vote.
- A concerted minority can elect one of the N candidates if can reach the Droop quota:
Droop quota = size of the electorate
N + 1
- Limited vote:
- The voters are given more than one vote but a number less than the number of candidates to be elected. [
- Used perviously in Japan.]
- Cumulative vote:
- Each voter has N votes, and these votes may all be cast for one candidate or apportioned among the candidates.
- [Used in Illinois until 1970.]
- Extra votes:
- This is the logical conclusion of the possibilities:
- each voter has more than N votes, which can be apportioned as the voter wishes.
- [Because this method is possible, it's probably used somewhere.]
- Methods for producing proportional reporesentation (called PR).
- List systems:
- Each party offers a list of N candidates for the N seats elected in the district.
- In some countries (e.g., in Israel and Holland), the entire country is the district.
- In other countries, districts may range in size from 5 to 20 or so.
- But multi-member districts are needed for list PR.
- The voter chooses the party rather than the candidates.
- Seats are awarded to parties in proportion to the popular vote they receive.
- Hence, the term proportional representation.
- [Used in most European countries.]
- Mixed systems:
- Part elected in single-member districts using simple plurality rule.
- Part of the parliament elected in multi-member districts using a list system
- Seats are awarded to parties in parliament according to the proportion of votes won in the list voting.
- All candidates who won in districts are seated.
- Other candidates are chosen from the top of party lists to round out the membership.
- [Used in Germany, Hungary, and Russia]
- Single transferable vote (STV)
- As in the alternative vote, voters express preferences among candidates by ranking them.
- Each candidate who gets enough votes to surpass the Droop Quota is elected.
- The candidates' second preferences are distributed among the remaining candidates.
- As each candidate, surpasses the Droop quota, that candidate is elected, and the candidate's "extra" votes are distributed among the remaining candidates.
- If no one else gets enough to surpass the Droop Quota after each counting,
- the candidate with the lowest number of votes is dropped and
- that candidate's second preferences are distributed among the remaining candidates, and so forth.
- [Used in Ireland.]: