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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: June 2012

PART II - ELECTORAL SYSTEMS AND INSTITUTIONS

Summary

Electoral system choice, especially the distinction between proportional representation and the plurality forms of electoral rules, is widely regarded by political scientists as one of the fundamental institutional decisions made by a democratic polity. Part II is made up of contributions that examine the operation of the systems and institutions of representation. Grofman and Reynolds provide an overview of the current state of knowledge and of the cutting-edge areas of research. This includes a panoramic view of such issues as votes–seats relationships, party proliferation and government stability, as well as the nature of partisan bias, incentives for strategic misrepresentation of preferences, incentives for voter turnout, and incentives for localism and corruption.

Mudambi and his colleagues take a practical look at the effects of electoral rules on coalition strategies in the context of Italian national elections. The rules in question are an attempt to move away from a proportional system toward one incorporating elements of plurality. Since elements of both systems are present, their effects on political coalition strategies can be studied. Paul and Wilhite, on the other hand, examine the plurality system in U.S. congressional elections, focusing on effects of campaign finance considerations.

Many important characteristics of government are not included in formal constitutions. These include the organization of public administration and its relationship with the polity and, in many federal systems, with the local and regional government. It is generally argued that voters are neither interested in nor capable of exerting influence on these aspects of government.