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The Politics of Electoral Reform


  • Page extent: 328 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.66 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 324.6
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: JF1001 .R394 2010
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Elections
    • Voting
    • Representative government and representation

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521765305)

Elections lie at the heart of democracy, and this book seeks to understand how the rules governing those elections are chosen. Drawing on both broad comparisons and detailed case studies, it focuses upon the electoral rules that govern what sorts of preferences voters can express and how votes translate into seats in a legislature. Through detailed examination of electoral reform politics in four countries (France, Italy, Japan, and New Zealand), Alan Renwick shows how major electoral system changes in established democracies occur through two contrasting types of reform process. Renwick rejects the simple view that electoral systems always straightforwardly reflect the interests of the politicians in power. Politicians' motivations are complex; politicians are sometimes unable to pursue reforms they want; occasionally, they are forced to accept reforms they oppose. The Politics of Electoral Reform shows how voters and reform activists can have real power over electoral reform.

• An overview of the study of electoral reform around the world, providing a valuable launch pad for those wishing to investigate particular aspects in more detail • Features case study chapters on France, Italy, Japan and New Zealand and provides in-depth comparison of such diverse countries • Written without jargon and includes a glossary to explain technical terms


1. Introduction; Part I. Building Blocks: 2. What motivates actors?; 3. From motivations to outcomes: exogenous factors; 4. The reform process: endogenous factors; Part II. Elite Majority Imposition: 5. France: the recurrent game of electoral reform; 6. Italy: the search for stability; 7. Japan: the persistence of SNTV; 8. Elite majority imposition: comparative analysis; Part III. Elite-Mass Interaction: 9. Italy: diluting proportional representation; 10. Japan: the abandonment of SNTV; 11. New Zealand: MMP in a Westminster setting; 12. Elite-mass interaction: comparative analysis; 13. Conclusions and implications; Appendix: Glossary of electoral system terminology.


Review of the hardback: 'Renwick's creative application of rational-choice inspired theoretical frameworks to electoral system choice is both innovative and enlightening. Theoretically-informed qualitative analysis of this sort is rare, and this volume provides a much-needed complement to the many quantitative studies of electoral system design.' Sarah Birch, University of Essex

Review of the hardback: 'This is an agenda setter for the next generation of electoral systems research. Renwick makes a major contribution by combining recognition that there is more than one path to electoral reform with a schema that enables us to move beyond a series of narratives to more systematic understanding.' Richard S. Katz, Johns Hopkins University

Review of the hardback: 'Alan Renwick has produced a well-argued study of “the long and winding road” to electoral system change. Thoughtful and original, this is a well-told tale of miscalculation and misadventure, certain to be much cited. A fine contribution.' Stephen Levine ONZM, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Review of the hardback: 'The past two decades have witnessed an explosion in research on electoral systems, telling us pretty much all we could ever hope to know about how they impact on our wider political institutions - in other words about electoral systems as independent variables. This book is the first major cross-national study of its type to turn the tables on electoral systems, to examine them as the dependent variables, as the things to be explained. In this definitive work, Renwick closely scrutinises, compares and explains the electoral reform processes of key industrialised democracies over the past twenty years.' David Farrell, University College Dublin

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