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Election Laws, Disproportionality and Median Correspondence: Implications for Two Visions of Democracy

    • Published online: 01 July 2000

Comparative studies of election rules and legislative representation have focused intensively on vote–seat disproportionality as an indication of poor representation. Beginning with citizens' preferences, rather than votes, has important advantages and is especially more appropriate for a majoritarian vision of democracy. We analyse the effect of election rules on both vote–seat correspondence and median left–right correspondence in seventy elections in seventeen countries. We show theoretically the stringent conditions necessary to reduce vote–seat disproportionality in high threshold systems and empirically their high variance (and higher levels) of distortion. Although good median correspondence could be created, in theory, under a wide range of electoral systems, our empirical results suggest that proportional representation (PR) systems tend to outperform single-member district (SMD) systems by this criterion also.

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British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
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