'Persistent losing' and electoral democracy in three world cities
This thesis proposes a new analytical framework by which to assess electoral democracy and tests this theory in three world cities. Asserting that any investigation of electoral democracy requires a tight coupling of philosophical concepts and measurement methods, the first section shows that very few studies genuinely attempt to accommodate both elements and those that do contain significant normative and empirical inconsistencies. Combining this preferred 'tip-to-tail' approach with the contractualist writings of Thomas Scanlon and Brian Barry produces a new theory by which to evaluate electoral fairness. The theory of persistent losing argues that electoral rules can be reasonably rejected if they consistently impose higher participation costs for some-and-not-other community members committed to collective action. The theory is operationalized and tested on local election results in Stockholm, London and New York. Detailed statistical measures show that some small parties can reasonably reject the electoral formula in all three cities as these parties are permanently or almost permanently disadvantaged in how votes are converted to seats. Voting stage tests reveal that where persistent losing is unlikely in Stockholm, it is probable in New York and is shown to exist in London boroughs where participation costs are frequently higher for some geographically-based groups. Finally, prevoting stage results show that where women are persistent losers in Stockholm, their disadvantage is very slight and likely to go unchallenged. Although women's absence from New York City Council is persistent, this absence cannot be directly linked to discriminatory rules. The rules by which parties select candidates in London can be reasonably rejected as women's persistent absence is tied to institutional bias.