Election laws, disproportionality and median correspondence: Implications for two visions of democracy


Journal Article

Comparative studies of election rules and legislative representation have focused intensively on vote-seat disproportionality as an indication of poor representation. Beginning with citizens' preferences, rather than votes, has important advantages and is especially more appropriate for a majoritarian vision of democracy. We analyse the effect of election rules on both vote-seat correspondence and median left-right correspondence in seventy elections in seventeen countries. We show theoretically the stringent conditions necessary to reduce vote-seat disproportionality in high threshold systems and empirically their high variance (and higher levels) of distortion. Although good median correspondence could be created, in theory, under a wide range of electoral systems, our empirical results suggest that proportional representation (PR) systems tend to outperform single-member district (SMD) systems by this criterion also.

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Powell, GB; Vanberg, GS

Published Date

  • January 1, 2000

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 30 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 383 - 411

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0007-1234

Citation Source

  • Scopus