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Reading history forward: the origins of electoral systems in European democracies.(The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies)(Author abstract)

Ahmed, Amel

Comparative Political Studies, August-Sept, 2010, Vol.43(8-9), p.1059-1088 [Periódico revisado por pares]

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  • Título:
    Reading history forward: the origins of electoral systems in European democracies.(The Historical Turn in Democratization Studies)(Author abstract)
  • Autor: Ahmed, Amel
  • Assuntos: Electoral Systems -- History ; Democracy -- History ; Democratization -- History
  • É parte de: Comparative Political Studies, August-Sept, 2010, Vol.43(8-9), p.1059-1088
  • Descrição: This article reexamines the reconfiguration of electoral systems in European democracies in the first age of democratization. Rather than asking why some countries maintained the status quo whereas others "switched" to proportional representation (PR), the author argues that both single-member plurality (SMP) and PR were departures from the predemocratic electoral institutions in most of Europe. At the time they were introduced, SMP and PR were understood as two functionally equivalent alternative safeguards of the position of right parties against the consequences of suffrage expansion. The choice of either system depended not on the level of threat that democratization posed (because both were designed with this threat in mind) but instead on the compatibility of each system with right parties' preexisting broader strategies to contain the rise of socialist parties. The author illustrates these points by analyzing two paradigmatic cases: the United Kingdom, the first to formally adopt SMP, and Belgium, the first to adopt PR. This perspective provides new insights into the overall process of democratization.
  • Idioma: English

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