Electoral systems

Authored by: Iain McLean

The Routledge Handbook of Elections, Voting Behaviorand Public Opinion

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138890404
eBook ISBN: 9781315712390
Adobe ISBN:


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In general, there is no best electoral system, but some are worse than others. Each electoral system appeals, openly or implicitly, to a concept of representation. There are two of these, explained in the second section of this chapter, namely the principal-agent concept, and the microcosmic concept. Both are valid, but they are incompatible with one another. Therefore, electoral system designers must choose a system appropriate for the context in which it is to be used. They must also decide whether the system is to aggregate judgments or to aggregate preferences, and whether it is to elect one person or a multi-member assembly.

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