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Title: Electoral system reform in early democratisers : strategic coordination under different electoral systems
Author: Rottwilm, Philipp Moritz
ISNI:       0000 0004 6062 4317
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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On the basis of case studies of 19th and early 20th century Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, I address the question of how and when incumbent right elites reformed electoral systems under a rising political threat from the left. Some states adopted proportional representation (PR) earlier than others. Why did different states adopt PR at different times? One important factor was the existing electoral system before the adoption of PR. This has been missed in academic research since most scholars have assumed that the electoral system in place before the adoption of PR in most Western European states was single-member plurality (SMP). I show that the system in place prior to PR in most Western European states was not SMP but a two-round system (TRS). TRS effects are still poorly understood by political scientists. I argue that both PR and TRS were used as safeguards by the parties on the right against an electoral threat from the left, which originated from the expansion of suffrage. PR was used as a last resort after other safeguards had been exhausted. I state that in the presence of a strong left threat, countries with TRS could wait longer to implement PR than countries with SMP in place. Under TRS, the adoption of PR was considerably delayed since electoral coordination between parties could be applied more effectively than under SMP systems. This was largely due to the increase of information and time after the first round of TRS elections, which was used by right parties to coordinate votes around the most promising candidate before the second round. First round results under TRS were used as an "electoral opinion poll". Based on these results, the right could react more effectively than the left in order to improve outcomes in round two.
Supervisor: Capoccia, Giovanni Sponsor: SDW (Foundation of German Business) ; DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Democracy--History--20th century ; Proportional representation--Case studies ; Comparative government ; Elections--Case studies ; Representative government and representation--European Union countries ; Germany--Politics and government--20th century ; Sweden--Politics and government--20th century ; Netherlands--Politics and government--20th century