Electoral System Design in New Democracies

29 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2016 Last revised: 30 Sep 2020

Date Written: July 22, 2016


Elections in the wake of dramatic transitions from authoritarian regimes to democracy may confront voters with choices that are unattractive or bewildering, or both. This paper examines the conditions that produce tractable sets of party options for voters, presents cross-national data on the choice sets and competitiveness in elections after dramatic transitions, and examines how the electoral formula used in proportional elections can affect electoral outcomes. The paper argues that, in transitional contexts characterized by high uncertainty, electoral rules that reward economies of moderate scale, such as the Hare Quota formula, can encourage the development of attractive choice sets. As democracies and party systems develop, however, the case for electoral rules that confer representational bonuses on winning parties gains traction.

Keywords: elections, electoral systems, Tunisia, Hong Kong, Peru, Spain, Poland

JEL Classification: D72

Suggested Citation

Carey, John Michael, Electoral System Design in New Democracies (July 22, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2821688 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2821688

John Michael Carey (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College ( email )

Department of Sociology
Hanover, NH 03755
United States
603 646 1130 (Phone)
603 646 2154 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~jcarey

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