Public Choice

, Volume 121, Issue 3–4, pp 487–506 | Cite as

A Neo-Downsian Model of the Alternative Vote as a Mechanism for Mitigating Ethnic Conflict in Plural Societies

  • Jon Fraenkel
  • Bernard Grofman


Among those advocating the use of particular electoralmechanisms to reduce the prospects for conflict and strengthendemocracy in societies that are deeply divided in ethnic orreligious terms, there are two main approaches, one associatedwith Arend Lijphart, one with Donald Horowitz. Lijphartadvocates using electoral rules such as list PR thatstrengthen the power of ethnically or religiously definedpolitical elites in the context of implementing power-sharingmechanisms at the elite level that institutionalize norms suchas proportional allocation and mutual veto across ethnies.Horowitz advocates using a preferential voting method, thealternative vote (AV), within constituencies thatare multi-ethnic in character, to allow for voting acrossethnic lines and to increase the likelihood of electingcandidates whose perceived obligations are wider than theirown ethnic group and/or to foster the creation of coalitionsthat are multi-ethnic in character. The main focus of thisessay is the reformulation of Horowitz’s approach in terms ofideas adapted from the neo-Downsian literature on median votermodels. We illustrate Horowitz’s approach with illustrationsinspired by the predominantly biracial political competitionin Fiji between native Fijians and those of Indian descent.


Ethnic Group Public Finance Main Approach Plural Society Preferential Vote 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jon Fraenkel
    • 1
  • Bernard Grofman
    • 2
  1. 1.Economics Department, School of Social and Economic DevelopmentUniversity of the South PacificSuvaFiji
  2. 2.Department of Political Science and Institute for Mathematical Behavioral ScienceUniversity of CaliforniaIrvineU.S.A.

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