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Linking Party Preferences and the Composition of Government: A New Standard for Evaluating the Performance of Electoral Democracy*

  • André Blais, Eric Guntermann and Marc A. Bodet

We propose a new standard for evaluating the performance of electoral democracies: the correspondence between citizens’ party preferences and the party composition of governments that are formed after elections. We develop three criteria for assessing such correspondence: the proportion of citizens whose most preferred party is in government, whether the party that is most liked overall is in government, and how much more positively governing parties are rated than non-governing parties. We pay particular attention to the last criterion, which takes into account how each citizen feels about each of the parties as well as the intensity of their preferences. We find that proportional representation systems perform better on the first criterion. Majoritarian systems do better on the other two.

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André Blais is Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, C. P. 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3J7, Canada ( Eric Guntermann is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Université de Montréal, Pavillon Lionel-Groulx, C. P. 6128, succ. Centre-ville, Montréal, Québec, H3C 3J7, Canada ( Marc. A. Bodet is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval, Pavillon Charles-De Koninck 1030, avenue des Sciences-Humaines, local 4437, Université Laval, Québec, Québec, G1V 0A6, Canada ( The authors would like to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship for their support. To view supplementary material for this article, please visit

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Political Science Research and Methods
  • ISSN: 2049-8470
  • EISSN: 2049-8489
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