• Christopher Kirkland


Elections are the most visual and engaging part of democracy. Yet not all elections are equal. Different elections have different rules relating to who can participate and in what contexts the interactions between voters and other institutions/groups operate. This chapter demonstrates some means by which different elections have hitherto been classified by introducing Reif and Schdmitt’s first- and second-order distinctions. It establishes how this became the dominant means of understanding elections following the introduction of the first European elections in 1979 and how such means of classification have been developed to incorporate new elections such as those introduced as part of New Labour’s devolution agenda.


Elections First-order elections Second-order elections 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher Kirkland
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities, Religion and PhilosophyYork St John UniversityYorkUK

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