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The Political Consequences of Electoral Laws, 1945–85

  • Arend Lijphart (a1)

A systematic analysis of the relationships between the main electoral system variables (electoral formula, district magnitude, and ballot structure) and electoral outcomes (the degrees of disproportionality and multipartism) in the 20 Western democracies from 1945 to 1985—representing 32 distinct electoral systems (an electoral system being defined as a set of elections held under basically the same rules)—shows that the effects of both formula and magnitude on proportionality are very strong, much stronger than Douglas W. Rae and subsequent researchers have suggested; that on the other hand, their effects on the number of parties participating in elections is surprisingly weak; and that ballot structure affects the degree of multipartism only in single-member district systems. These findings suggest that strategic behavior by politicians and voters plays a less important role in reducing multipartism than is usually assumed.

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Jürgen Dittberner . 1987. FDP–Partei der zweiten Wahl: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der liberalen Partei und ihrer Funktionen im Parteiensystem der Bundesrepublik. Opladen: Westdeutscher.

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Arend Lijphart . 1985. “The Field of Electoral Systems Research: A Critical Survey.” Electoral Studies 4: 314.

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Thomas T. Mackie 1985. “General Elections in Western Nations during 1984.” European Journal of Political Research 13: 335–39.

Thomas T. Mackie 1986. “General Elections in Western Nations during 1985.” European Journal of Political Research 14: 695–97.

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Rein Taagepera , and Bernard Grofman . 1985. “Rethinking Duverger's Law: Predicting the Effective Number of Parties in Plurality and PR Systems–Parties Minus Issues Equals One.” European Journal of Political Research 13: 341–52.

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American Political Science Review
  • ISSN: 0003-0554
  • EISSN: 1537-5943
  • URL: /core/journals/american-political-science-review
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