The Politics of Electoral Systems


It is impossible to appreciate the variety of electoral systems used to select legislative bodies without taking a comparative perspective. We will begin this course with a brief consideration of what goals political founders and reformers are pursuing when they design an electoral system. Then we will define the conceptual dimensions along which electoral rules can vary. With these basic concepts in hand we can then study specific national cases to assess the impact of electoral laws on party systems, legislator behavior, and interbranch relations. After completing a series of case studies, we will return to a comparative perspective to discuss recent scholarly research in this field. This research conceives of electoral systems as incentive structures for voters, candidates, parties, and politicians. To wrap up the course, we will return to the question of what founders and reformers can hope to achieve when selecting electoral systems.
Course Attributes: EN S; BU BA; AS SSC