Electoral systems matter. They are a crucial link in the chain connecting the preferences of citizens to the policy choices made by governments. They are chosen by political actors and, once in existence, have political consequences for those actors. They are an important object of study for anyone interested in the political process, and in this book we subject them to systematic analysis.
In addition to some comparative chapters, the book contains full accounts of the operation of electoral systems in 22 countries: in addition to 11 from Western Europe, the book includes, Hungary, Russia, Australia, Canada, India, the USA, Japan, New Zealand, Israel, Chile and South Africa.
The book provides detailed analyses of the operation of a diverse set of electoral systems in their national context. Each chapter explains how the electoral system really works in the given country, examining the strategic incentives the system provides to voters, candidates, and parties. All country chapters have a common format and structure. Successive sections analyse: the institutional context; how each electoral system was chosen historically; how the current electoral system operates (the rules, mechanics, and ballot structure); and the political consequences of the current system (the impact on the party system, the internal life of parties, and the impact on parliament and government formation). Each country chapter then contains a final section which focuses on the politicization of electoral institutions. In recent years many countries have changed their electoral systems, either entirely or in part so there is a strong focus on the processes of electoral reform, both historically and prospectively. The book concentrates on the real world 'politics', as well as the 'political science' of electoral systems.
The book will be of interest to those concerned with the practical political business of electoral reform. The book contains a wealth of evidence about the performance of various kinds of proportional representation and of non-PR systems. This will be invaluable for anyone interested in the question: 'What would be the best electoral system for my country?
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Michael Gallagher is an Associate Professor of Political Science, Trinity College, University of Dublin. Paul Mitchell is a Lecturer in Government, London School of Economics and Political Science.Review:
It is a valuable and important work of reference for anyone in academia or policy development with a serious interest in comparative electoral systems * Representation * political science and politics of electoral systems are treated in an understandable and at the same time comprehensive manner for a wide range of national electoral systems ... it is a very useful handbook of electoral systems for both specialists and students alike * Acta Politica * It is a treasure trove of information about electoral systems and comprehensively examines how votes get translated into seats across the democratic world * Times Higher * This is a very useful book which, not only for its biblical proportions, could justly claim to be a bible of electoral systems * Irish Political Studies * In the foreword to the Gallagher and Mitchell collection, Arend Lijphart describes the book as "an outstanding contribution to the electoral systems literature". It is difficult to disagree with this judgement' * Political Studies Review * 'Overall, this is a superb collection, produced by scholars who know their subject matter and can present it in a very accessible form ... this is a book for which much praise is due. * Parliamentary Affairs * covers a wide variety of electoral systems from theoretical and empirical perspectives - and it does so excellently. This brand new work is destined to become no less than the bible of electoral systems ... this anthology is already a classic * Canadian Journal of Political Science * This excellent book highlights much of the best in electoral systems research. With top-quality authors, rigorous attention to some key issues and first-rate comparative overviews to introduce and summarize the chapters on individual countries, this book will be one of the first to be read by both experts and newcomers to electoral systems. * Party Politics * 'This is not just any book on the politics of electoral systems; it is probably the book on the politics of electoral systems ... The authors of these studies are all highly talented scholars, who usually know the comparative literature as well as their countries. In other words, they know what they are talking about, and they have been given reasonably generous space and good editorial guidance with which to do it. The result is truly impressive * West European Politics *
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