International Election Reports
International Snapshot: Japan 2009November 24, 2009
The Japanese parliamentary elections in August 30, 2009 marked a turning point in Japan’s political history. Since 1955, Japan has been dominated by one party, with the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) as the governing party for all but 11 months. But in these elections the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) defeated the LDP, winning 308 seats to 109 for the LDP in the 480-seat House of Representatives.
Universal Voter Registration: An International PerspectiveApril 21, 2009
The United States is one of the few democracies in the world where the government does not take any responsibility in registering its citizens. This one-of-a-kind, self-initiated voter registration process acts as a major barrier to voter turnout and leads to often inaccurate voter rolls.
International Snapshot: Australia 2007January 1, 2008
On November 24th 2007, Australia elected its House of Representatives with instant runoff voting (IRV), as it has for more than eight decades. After four straight election defeats, the Labor Party won a landslide majority of seats. Under IRV, Labor's initial 44% of first choices turned into a clear majority after considering the choices of supporters of third party candidates with too little support to win seats. The Green Party's 7.79% share of the national vote largely went to Labor in House races; that share earned several senate seats elected by proportional voting. Due in large part to compulsory voting, turnout was 94.77%; Australians rank near the top of national comparisons of voter satisfaction with their government.
International Snapshot: Scotland 2007July 11, 2007
On May 3, 2007, Scottish voters used two proportional voting systems simultaneously: for the first time ever, choice voting (or the single transferable vote) for local councils, and once again, mixed member proportional voting for the Scottish Parliament. The local council elections saw increased participation and broadly representative results. Despite the first-time use of choice voting alongside a completely different voting system, error rates were, on average, remarkably low. The MMP elections ensured proportionality in seat shares and arguably prevented a wrong-winner result. There was early controversy over error rates allegedly around 10%, but actual error rates were lower. Later research moreover confirmed that voter error was due to critical ballot design flaws.
International Snapshot: PolandAugust 1, 2006
Poland held elections to its parliament in September 2005. Its lower house, the Sejm, is elected proportionally from closed lists. The Senate is elected in two- or three-member winner-take-all districts. While this feature of Senate elections should discourage small parties from running candidates, more and more parties contest elections with each passing cycle. Despite a relatively high threshold of 5% to enter the Sejm, small, ideologically similar parties proliferate, and coalition-building remains a challenge. This paper looks the intersections of Poland’s electoral system and party behavior, coalition-bulding, and turnout. It also considers the potential implications of a change to the formula used to allocate Sejm seats.
Majority Rule in International Presidential ElectionsJune 6, 2006
Of the 28 freest presidential democracies, 21 require the president to win with a majority of votes. Two more mandate presidents be elected with relatively high minimum pluralities. Only five allow pure plurality winners. One of them, the United States, permits the winner of the popular vote to lose the election through an Electoral College system. The 23 countries with majority and minimum plurality requirements all employ runoff elections. 22 use delayed runoff elections and one, Ireland, builds both rounds into one with instant runoff voting (IRV).
Each method has implications for voter choice, quality of campaigning and respect for majority rule. This report examines each system and its implications by way of description and case studies.