Democracy and the Politics of Electoral System Choice: Engineering Electoral Dominance
By: Amel Ahmed (author)Hardback
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Amel Ahmed brings new historical evidence and a novel theoretical framework to bear on the study of democratization. Looking at the politics of electoral system choice at the time of suffrage expansion among early democratizers, she shows that the electoral systems used in advanced democracies today were initially devised as exclusionary safeguards to protect pre-democratic elites from the impact of democratization and, particularly, the existential threat posed by working-class mobilization. The ubiquitous use and enduring nature of these safeguards calls into question the familiar picture of democracy moving along a path of increasing inclusiveness. Instead, what emerges is a picture that is riddled with ambiguity, where inclusionary democratic reforms combine with exclusionary electoral safeguards to form a permanent part of the new democratic order. This book has important implications for our understanding of the dynamics of democratic development both in early democracies and in emerging democracies today.
Amel Ahmed is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
1. Introduction: contradictions and ambiguities of democratization; 2. Strategies of containment: the role of repression and accommodation; 3. Strategies of competition: the logic of electoral system choice, single member plurality (SMP) vs. proportional representation (PR); 4. The United States: pre-industrial democratization and the origins of SMP; 5. The United Kingdom: safeguarding the Reform Acts with SMP; 6. France: the tumultuous path of electoral system choice in the Third Republic; 7. Belgium: minimizing the existential threat with PR; 8. Conclusions: rethinking democracy's determinisms; Appendix: the existential threat - electoral viability and ideological radicalism.
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- ID: 9781107031616
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