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Parties, Electoral Systems, and Governance

Reilly, B. (2013) Parties, Electoral Systems, and Governance. In: Diamond, Larry, Plattner, Marc and Chu, Yun-han, (eds.) Democracy in East Asia: A New Century. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, Maryland, pp. 16-30.

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One of the patterns familiar to students of comparative politics is the clustering of specific forms of democracy in different world regions. Thus, continental Europe is typified by the combination of parliamentary government and proportional-representation (PR) electoral systems, Latin America is almost entirely presidential but with PR legislative elections, and the Anglosphere is mostly parliamentary (the rather large exception of the United States aside) but also determinedly majoritarian in using plurality or majority electoral systems (with the somewhat less large exception of New Zealand).

The democratization of East Asia is producing a similar effect, with a distinctive form of electoral majoritarianism emerging in the region’s new democracies. However, there is strong subregional variation between Northeast and Southeast Asia, and increasingly between mainland and maritime Southeast Asia as well. Thus the “third wave” Northeast Asian democracies of Mongolia, South Korea, and Taiwan are distinguished by their combination of (semi)presidential government, mixed-member electoral systems, and nascent two-party politics. In Southeast Asia, by contrast, two countervailing clusters prevail: one-party-dominant parliamentary systems in the “semidemocracies” of Cambodia, Malaysia, Singapore, and possibly Thailand; and more complex electoral models and fragmented party systems in the presidential or semipresidential Southeast Asian democracies of Indonesia, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
Copyright: Johns Hopkins University Press and the National Endowment for Democracy
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