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    Blais, André Guntermann, Eric and Bodet, Marc A. 2016. Linking Party Preferences and the Composition of Government: A New Standard for Evaluating the Performance of Electoral Democracy. Political Science Research and Methods, p. 1.


The Effectiveness of the Plurality Rule


Plurality (first-past-the-post), majority and proportional electoral formulae all translate vote shares into seat shares in different ways. The consequences of these differences are the subject of a large literature, and the virtues and vices attributed to the plurality rule are particularly numerous. That is not surprising given the discrepancies between seat and vote shares it generates. What is surprising is that the literature has not examined the plurality rule's effectiveness, that is the extent to which it achieves its intended goals. We take effectiveness to be a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for an electoral rule's acceptability. At the very least, a given rule ought to produce the consequences it is designed to create. This short Note is intended to assess the extent to which the plurality system passes this minimum test.

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T. Mackie and R. Rose , eds, The International Almanac of Electoral History (London: Macmillan, 1982).

A. Blais and R. K. Carty , ‘The Impact of Electoral Formulae on the Creation of Majority Governments’, Electoral Studies, 6 (1987), 209–18.

Alan C. Cairns , ‘The Electoral System and the Party System in Canada’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, 1 (1968), 5580.

R. Taagepera , ‘Reformulating the Cube Law for Proportional Representation Elections’, American Political Science Review, 80 (1986), 489505.

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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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