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F O U R T E E N Electoral System Reform in the United Kingdom* ANDREW REYNOLDS The First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), single-member constituency elections, which are so strongly associated with Great Britain, did not in fact come into widespread use for House of Commons elections until 1884-1885—a full fifty years after the First Reform Act of 1832, which marked the begin- nings of representative democracy in the UK. Up until 1867 most members of the British House of Commons were elected from two-member districts by the Block Vote, which served to compound the seat

A P P E N D I X Electoral Systems in the Democratic World* Plurality-Majority Systems FIRST-PAST-THE-POST: (FPTP) The distinguishing feature of plurality-majority systems is that they almost always use single-member districts. In an FPTP system, sometimes known as a plurality single-member district system, the winner is the candidate with the most votes, but not necessarily an absolute majority of the votes. When this system is used in multi-member districts it becomes the Block Vote. Voters have as many votes as there are seats to be filled, and the high- est

1. Introduction We know at least since the classical study of Duverger (1951) that elec- toral systems influence the distribution of seats as well as the behaviour of parties and voters. Political actors anticipate the consequences of the rules used to transform the votes cast into seats (Cox 1997; Lijphart 1994). Three effects of electoral systems usually are distinguished: a mechanical effect and two psychological effects. The mechanical effect of an electoral system is a direct consequence of the electoral formula. Depending on the distribution of votes

F O a U R New Challenges Demand New Thinking About Our Antiquated Electoral System* LAWRENCE LEDUC The first-past-the-post (FPTP), single member district electoral system, which we inherited from Britain rather than choosing for ourselves, has produced a startling record of distortion, misrepresentation, and impaired governance in Canadian federal elections. Its ill effects on our political system are well known and well documented, yet we seem chronically unable to initiate a serious and sustained national debate on possible alter- natives.1 By contrast, newly

higher levels of support for political systems with more proportional election rules and expansive party systems. On the other, a long-standing concern in com- parative politics has been with the corroding effects of polarized and fragmented party systems, which often are thought to be the natural by-product of proportional electoral systems. Who, if anyone, is right? To answer the question of whether fragmented and polarized party systems are good for or inimical to democratic support requires that we differentiate the key dimensions of electoral supply and

SIX The Alternative Vote: An Electoral System for Canada TOM FLANAGAN I agree with other contributors to this book that changing the federal elec- toral system in Canada would be a good thing. My reasons, however, are, in part, not the same as those of some observers, and, as a result, my pro- posal differs from some of those advanced here. First, I care not at all for the complaint that women and visible minori- ties find it hard to get elected under our single member plurality or first- past-the post (FPTP) system. That situation has been changing gradually and

6 From Barriers to Ballots: Participating in Electoral Systems Electoral participation is foundational to liberal democracies and to our understanding and lived experiences of political rights of citizen- ship. Voting is about many things, participation in elections to be sure, but also choosing representatives through a legitimate process, con- necting with parties and the wider political and governmental systems, exercising democratic rights, as well as learning about, and debating social issues and public policy choices. If certain groups, because of

TEN Will Canada Seriously Consider Electoral System Reform? Women and Aboriginals Should DONLEY STUDLAR For some time, Canada's first-past-the-post electoral system has been sub- jected to criticism for increasing the regional distinctiveness of the party caucuses in Ottawa1 and contrasted unfavourably with PR, which attempts to maintain a closer correspondence between the percentage of votes for a party and its seats. Although academics and political commentators have periodically raised the electoral system question, only rarely has FPTP been seriously

T W E L V E From Westminster Plurality to Continental Proportionality: Electoral System Change in New Zealand PETER AIMER For more than 150 years, New Zealand's political institutions and processes—its political culture—have been essentially British. The only notable departure from British practice was the creation in 1867 of four ter- ritorial Maori electorates1 spanning the entire country and constituting a second tier of representation superimposed on the single-member elec- torates characteristic of Westminster politics. With the advent of universal voting

deci- sions for a society – is divided vertically between a central and state/ provincial governments, both of which relate to citizens directly. Federal and state/provincial governments cannot abolish each other without ceasing to be a federation. Each of the three federations discussed in this book began as groups of British settler colonies and each has a common law legal system, albeit with French civil codes in Quebec in Canada and Louisiana in the United States. Each also has a single-member electoral system but in Australia the system is not ‘first