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    Electoral Systems

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    Electoral System

    Many forms but we can use a simple classification SMD/plurality systems

    PR systems Mixed systems

    Impacts: Party system: numbers & competition

    Proportionality: votes to seats

    Returning single-party/ coalition governments

    Style of representation (agency v. trusteeship)

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    SMD/plurality systems

    How the system works: District Magnitude (DM) = 1

    Candidate names listed next to party on the ballot Votes apply directly to candidate totals

    Candidate with the most votes wins seat

    Tends to create two-party competition based onstrategic choices of voters and party officials Social cleavage structure may produce exceptions

    Political culture may produce exceptions

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    Political Party System in the UK

    Political party: an organization that seeks to place theirdesignated representatives in public office

    Number of parties: (2005) 58 parties gained access to the ballot

    13 parties gained seats

    Labour Party received 55% seats with 35% of the vote

    US (2008) Democrats won 59 % seats with 53% of the vote

    Number of effective parties: Number that have significant impact on public policy

    In UK, 2-3 historically (depending on the election)

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    US Presidential Elections

    Electoral College:Electors = US representatives for the state

    Must return a majority decisionOtherwise, Congress decides

    Intention was to produce a state-based,citizen-derived nomination system that

    would be decided in the Congress

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    Two-round majoritarian system

    DM = 1 but if a candidate does not receive

    a majority mandate in the first round of

    voting, a second round is held

    Tends to build electoral alliances within a

    multi-party system

    French party system began coalescing

    around the two-round system

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    PR systems (with party list)

    DM greater than one

    Parties (without candidate names) listed on ballot

    Seats distributed in district according to the

    relative proportion of votes received

    many formulas available (commonly DHonte or Hare) some countries use layered districts so that remainder

    votes bump up to a higher district level (e.g. Hungary)

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    Assume an Election Produces the

    Following Results in a District% of Vote Seats Seats

    Liberal Party 46% 5 (4.6) 9 (9.2)

    Social Democrat 34% 3 (3.4) 7 (6.8)

    Green Party 16% 2 (1.6) 3 (3.2)

    National Party 4% 0 (0.4) 1 (0.8)DM = 10 20

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    PR systems (with party list)

    As the DM increases, results become more

    proportional (votes to seats more closely aligned)

    It is possible to have only one national district Israel: DM = 120; Netherlands: DM = 150

    PR electoral systems tend to produce multiple

    parties in the system

    Voters perceive opportunity to win a seat

    Parties remain more independent of one another

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    German Mixed Electoral System

    for the Bundestag Voters are presented with two ballots

    One ballot contains candidates for the SMD

    One ballot contains party names (list voting)

    Voters have no control over slating (no primary


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    Votes to Seats for the Bundestag

    The SMD/plurality votes are counted first

    Seats are awarded for SMD through plurality

    Then all ballots (SMD/plurality and PR list) are

    combined and counted

    SMD candidates are associated with their party

    PR system distributes seats accordingly

    The SMD seats already won are the first counted out

    through the PR system

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    Votes to Seats for the Bundestag

    If a party wins more seats from SMD seats

    than can be awarded from the PR count,

    they keep these overhang seats

    2002: 4 SPD & 1 CDU overhang seats

    (603 total seats in 2002)

    2005: 9 SPD & 6 CDU overhang seats

    (613 total seats in 2005)

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    Mixed Electoral System Outcomes

    System builds incentives for two large anchoringparties to emerge

    System grants incentives for small parties to gainrepresentation Smaller parties focus on PR campaign

    Voters tend to split their votes (ballots)

    Normal electoral outcomes forced coalitions oneither the left or right

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    Example of Overhang Seat

    PR district = Lander with DM = 6030 SMD seats and 30 PR seats

    Party X (a larger anchoring party)Wins 22 of 30 SMD seats (42% of SMD vote)

    Combined with PR ballots = 35% of total vote

    Should receive 21 seats total but gets to keep its22 SMD seats (and wins no PR seats)

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    Example of Smaller Party

    Party Y in same Lande as above

    Wins 3 of 30 SMD seats with 16% vote

    Combined with PR ballots = 20% total vote

    Should receive 12 total seats from Lander

    9 of these seats will be PR

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    2005 German Election Results

    CDU = 180 seats: 106 / 74 (7 overhang)

    CSU = 46 seats: 44/ 2

    SDP = 222 seats: 145 / 77 (9 overhang)

    FDP = 61 seats: 0 / 61

    LP = 54 seats: 3 / 51

    Green = 51 seats: 1 / 50

    Total seats in Bundestag = 614