The Export of Electoral Systems

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie


This lecture, I am afraid, is concerned primarily with some rather dry questions about the tactics of research in politics, and I hope therefore that you will excuse me if I begin by indicating, in a more personal way, the situation which may give these some present interest. Through the kindness of various sponsors I was able last summer to pay a brief visit to East and Central Africa. There are seven British territories there;1 in all of these, and in the Sudan too, discussion about the development of elections lies close to the centre of politics. Indeed, there exists already a surprisingly large number of separate electoral systems, because of the introduction of separate electorates for separate communities. I can reckon at least fifteen of them, and this takes no account of the ingenuity of District Commissioners in devising new systems to fit local circumstances, as they are urged to do under the policy of ‘democratising tribal institutions. These home-made electoral systems vary a good deal, and include some useful devices which are not in the textbooks.2


Electoral System Social Anthropology American Political Science Review Electoral Study Gold Coast 
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  1. 8.
    John Stuart Mill, Representative Government (1861 ed.), p.4.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    W.H. Auden, Making, Knowing and Judging, p.24.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Kahin, Pauker, and Pye, ‘Comparative Politics of Non-Western Countries’, American Political Science Review, vol. xlix (1955), p. 1022.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    M. Duverger, Political Parties, published in French in 1951, in English translation, 1954; and (ed.) M. Duverger, L’Influence des systèmes électoraux sur la vie politique (1950).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© W. J. M. Mackenzie 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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