Neither Representative nor Accountable: First-Past-the-Post in Britain

  • John Curtice
Part of the Studies in Public Choice book series (SIPC, volume 13)

At first glance Duverger's law is simply an empirical proposition. Use of the single member plurality electoral system results in political representation being dominated by just two parties. Regarded in this way, we can assess the validity of the law simply by considering whether representation in the legislature is usually dominated by - or even exclusively reserved to - two parties in countries where the single member plurality system is in place.

But Duverger's law is more than an empirical proposition. For if it is true, it also helps to provide a foundation for a normative justification of single member plurality. At first glance it would seem difficult to defend an electoral system that discourages voters from voting for anyone other than one of two parties and then fails to represent those who do decide to support someone else. It would certainly appear unlikely that the legislature produced by such a system would be a reasonable reflection - and thus representative - of the...


Electoral System Vote Share Opposition Party Large Party Electoral Bias 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

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  • John Curtice

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