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The theory of democracy revisited by Giovanni Sartori, , Chatham House Publishers edition, in English. In Defense of Democracy as a Way of Life: A Reply to Talisse's Pluralist Objection .Shane J. Ralston - - Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society The theory of democracy revisited / Giovanni Sartori. Later Title. Journal of forensic odonto-stomatology (Online). Former Title. International journal of forensic.
Praise The second edition of this pathbreaking, highly innovative comparative study in state-building by a major political scientist is a fully updated examination of the problems of making democratic government work. Sartori begins by assessing electoral systems. He attacks the conventional wisdom that their influence cannot be predicted and also disputes the view that proportional representation is always best and will deliver 'consensus democracy'. He argues that the double-ballot formulas deserve more consideration for their ability to facilitate governability in adverse circumstances. His comparative assessment of presidential and semi-presidential systems and the variety of formulas that are categorized, sometimes misleadingly, as parliamentary, looks at the conditions that allow a political form to perform as intended.
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Indeed, this remedy is likely to boomerang. A third warning is that electoral alliances —the French apparentement—should be prohibited whenever an electoral system has thresholds or premiums. For, clearly, alliances circumvent thresholds of exclusion and defy the aggregative intent of majority premiums. In the case of Israel, for example, I would recommend a PR system that provides majority premiums for the first two parties in this proportion: 20 percent to the first, 15 percent to the second.
While this system is especially intended to reinforce the second-place finishers, the minimal size of the constituencies does crush the smaller parties even though Chile permits electoral coalitions. Misunderstood Electoral Systems Up to this point I have dealt with the effects of electoral systems. But what about the causal factor itself? Is everything clear at this end of the argument?
Not really. Moreover, the understanding of electoral systems leaves much to be desired. For a number of voting methods are both misclassified and misunderstood. Electoral systems are fundamentally divided into majoritarian and proportional and thus defined by reciprocal exclusion: All majoritarian systems are not proportional and, conversely, all proportional systems are not majoritarian. So far, so good. But PR systems have been devised by mathematicians and a respectable mathematician must seek perfect proportionality.
Thus mathematicians have ignored ordinal proportionality and have confined PR to equal quotas or quotients , that is, to systems that allocate seats to equal shares of the voting returns. Assume, however, that we encounter—as was the case in Japan until —four-member constituencies average that elect the first four most voted candidates. What kind of system is that?
For Lijphart and others, it is a variety of the limited vote the voter has fewer votes than there are seats in which each voter has only one vote. First of all, it makes no sense at all to wonder whether the Japanese system may be considered a plurality system, for it is certainly not. Secondly, in all standard PR systems voters have fewer votes than there are seats, and with PR, it is normal for voters to have just one nontransferable vote.
Thirdly, under what criterion is Japan best considered semiproportional? This is a purely impressionistic assessment. PR systems have always been considered more-or-less pure or impure. The answer is no, and therefore this notion has no classificatory value. In my opinion, 98 The Party Effects of Electoral Systems the Japanese system was quite simply an ordinal proportional system characterized by personalized voting in lieu of list voting and by small constituencies and thus of the impure, least proportional variety.
So why does this straightforward understanding of the case escape us? The reason is the mathematical bias that establishes that proportionality can be achieved only via equal quotas, whereas proportionality can also be achieved, I submit, by having candidates elected in multimember constituencies on the basis of the highest portion proportion of the returns. Nor is it a foregone conclusion that ordinal proportionality is necessarily more imperfect impure than quota-based proportionality.
For this matter the degree of correspondence of votes to seats is decided far more by the constituency size than by algorithms.
Moving on, double-ballot systems also called two-round systems represent both a neglected and highly misunderstood area of electoral systems. An expert of the stature of Richard Rose assimilates and indeed subordinates the double ballot to the alternative vote. The difference between the Australian and French forms of alternative vote is limited, but of practical importance.
Both systems. Both ask voters to state more than one preference. But the Australian system leaves it to the voter to decide his preference, ordering candidates all at once in a single ballot. By contrast the French system also gives an initiative to the candidates and parties after the results of the first ballot are in.
Firstly, it is the double ballot that has many variants, not the alternative vote. If anything, then, the double ballot should be the genus of which the alternative vote is a species. Anyway, the double ballot is not necessarily a single-member majoritarian-plurality system; it can also be an ordinal proportional method of electing candidates in multimember if small constituencies. Furthermore, the similarities perceived by Rose are, if anything, dissimilarities.
The alternative vote requires an absolute majority. So why assimilate the double ballot to something else? All other electoral systems are one-shot; the double ballot, and the double ballot only, is a two-shot system. With one shot the voter shoots very much in the dark; with two shots he or she shoots, the second time, in full daylight.
Note, moreover, that when the voter is pressured in the run-off to vote for less preferred candidates, this constraint largely becomes the constraint of actual voting distributions not, as in the single-ballot plurality system, of the electoral system.
The notion originates with the German electoral system, and its popularity is largely due to a misunderstand- ing. For the German system is mixed, in the sense that half of the mem- bers of the Bundestag obtain a personalized vote in single member constituencies , but is proportional in the far more important respect that the seats are all allocated proportionally on the basis of the PR list voting. Alleged electoral experts are equally misguided in attributing importance to the German additional member system AMS , that is, to its variable Bundestag membership.
Let it be added that the German system is not mixed in outcome since it produces a fully proportional parliament. It is equally wrong to assume that Germany displays a three-party format because it mixes PR with plurality. German parties have been reduced by the Constitutional Court—which has outlawed communists and neo- Nazis—not by the electoral system. Germany and its false witnessing aside, when is a mixed system veritably mixed?
And what are the merits of plurality-PR mixes? But are mixed systems a solution that combines, as the claim goes, the best of both worlds? Let me first provide this definition: A veritable mixed system is such if and only if both the voting method and the allocation of seats are in part majoritarian and in part proportional. Thus a veritable mixed system must combine a proportional with a majoritarian translation of votes into seats.
The current Italian, Japanese, and Russian electoral systems qualify as mixed under the aforesaid criterion. In Italy since , 75 percent of the seats are filled via plurality districts, while the remaining 25 percent of the seats are filled according to proportional criteria.
In The Party Effects of Electoral Systems Japan the mix is 60 percent plurality to 40 percent proportional , whereas in Russia the mix is an even Other countries are equally called mixed, albeit misleadingly, for here we fail to distinguish between two different kinds of mixtures.
In the first kind the one that is correctly called mixed we have plurality-proportional mixes both in input and in output, as we know to be the case of Italy, Japan, and Russia. Indeed, in Germany as well as in New Zealand, a proportional compensation is provided in parliamentary seats for any disproportionality arising from the plurality elections. Hence the systems in question unequivocally perform as proportional systems based, in part, on personalized voting.
The interesting case in this category is New Zealand, in that here we have a switch from plurality to PR. Hence all the mixed systems, including the incomplete ones, are objectionable in that they confuse voters and, secondly, require parties to become Janus-faced. To require an ordinary voter to engage simultaneously in sincere proportional and in strategic majoritarian choices is a sure way of blurring them. By the same token, parties too are prompted to engage in schizophrenic behavior.
For parties that coalesce in the plurality contests fight against each other in the PR setting. So are we looking at the best of two worlds or, instead, at the best way of producing a bastard, a parliament that serves no purpose?
For the ultimate question always is: Electoral systems to what end? The ultimate end of PR is representative justice. The ultimate end of majoritarian elections is governing capacity. Clearly these are contrary goals. To be sure, these goals are amenable to trade-offs: more governability in exchange for less proportionality, or, more proportional Giovanni Sartori justice for less governability.
But these trade-offs should not lead to solutions that are neither fish nor meat, that is to say, to non-solutions. One of the two ends—representativeness or governability—must have clear priority and prevail over the other.
Note that I do not hold that one goal is intrinsically superior to the other. Unfortunately we hardly know how to do that. The Influence on Parties Let me turn to the last item on my agenda.
Thus far I have dealt with the impact of the electoral system on the voter and with its effects on the party system. As I have indicated at the outset, this is the causal path that we are logically required to follow. Yet it is clearly the case that the electoral system also shapes parties per se. When the whole is affected, its parts are affected; and, conversely, the parts affect the whole to which they belong. Note, firstly, that with a majoritarian system, one either wins or loses in each constituency, whereas in a proportional system, winning and losing are only a matter of greater or smaller shares.
And if the very notion of winning is different, at the very least the tactics of party com- petition must be different. In one case the loser loses all; in the other it just loses something perhaps just one or two percentage points. So dif- ferent electoral systems bring about different ways of competing, and this affects how parties are, that is, their competitive nature.
A similar point can be made with regard to the notion of responsibility. When an electoral system maintains or brings about two-partyism, by the same token it brings about single-party government, and thus an identifiable responsibility: who is responsible, in governing, for what. When, instead, electoral systems cause multipartyism, by the same token, they generally bring about coalition governments.
If so, the more numerous the coalition partners for example, in Italy with PR they have generally been five , and the more frequent the coalition changes, the less the voter can attribute responsibility to any specific party. With coalition governments, responsibility becomes fuzzy. However, the single most important direct effect of the electoral system The Party Effects of Electoral Systems on parties per se bears on whether party splitting is penalized and party aggregation rewarded. As we have seen, when a nation-wide two-party system is in place, a plurality system is a powerful factor in maintaining two-partyism.
And we have also seen that double-ballot systems can be rendered strongly aggregative. Conversely, unless they are extremely impure, PR systems hardly penalize party fragmentation and party splits, thus allowing for small-to-minute parties. Therefore, whether we have few large parties or a host of small-sized parties is a direct consequence of the electoral system.
In short, electoral systems control party numbers in the manner indicated by my laws. On the same grounds, majoritarian systems are assumed to lead to constituency-based local politics and thus to decentralized parties, whereas PR is assumed to up- hold centralized and stronger parties. Yet these seemingly obvious expec- tations turn out to be fraught with exceptions.
This is so because we are now dealing with indirect or derivative effects and thus, with distal causality. And the more a causal trajectory or a causal linkage is lengthened, the more it allows for intervening variables. Yes, on its own accord, a single-member-district system does enhance person-based and locality-centered politics.
But this tendency can be effectively counter- acted by party strength as in England. And another decisive intervening variable here is who controls the financing of politics: the party as a centralized entity or the candidates themselves. The general point is, then, that the more we move into the area of indirect effects, the more we enter into multicausality and thus the more the electoral system turns out to be one of many causal factors. And I cannot unravel multicausal complexities here.
Are parties in decline? If they are, electoral systems have little say on that. The enfeeblement of parties cannot be ascribed to voting methods. But the effects of electoral systems remain unchanged, as stated, regard- less of whether the nature and centrality of parties change.
NOTES 1. Paris: Armand Colin, , , my translation. Giovanni Sartori 4. It is apparent that my relevance criteria apply to parliamentary systems. The number of parties is of lesser importance in presidential systems. For reasons explained later, I deliberately avoid specifying whether the plurality system in question is of the single-ballot or double-ballot variety. Here the assumption is that one of the two will perform as predicted. To illustrate sketchily, Rule 3 applies nicely to the Canadian case.
That is, the rule accounts for the fact that, despite plurality, Canada has a three-four-party format, whereas Rule 4 applies nicely to Ireland and Japan with small three-to-five member constituencies , to Greece, Spain, and Austria which also have relatively small constituencies of, respectively, five, six, and seven members , and also helps explain on account of the exclusion clause the format of the German Federal Republic.
This typology is developed at length in Giovanni Sartori, Parties and Party Systems, — and —