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Electoral systems and conflict management: Comparing STV and AV systems

Reilly, B. (2004) Electoral systems and conflict management: Comparing STV and AV systems. Economic and Social Research Council, Swindon, U.K..



In recent decades, the possibilities of explicit “electoral engineering” -- designing electoral systems to encourage cooperation, bargaining and inter-dependence between rival politicians and the groups they represent – has become increasingly attractive for promoting democracy in divided societies. This article looks at one strategy of electoral engineering that I call “centripetalism”: the use of preferential, vote-pooling electoral systems such as the Single Transferable Vote and the Alternative Vote to encourage cross-ethnic vote-transfers, inter-ethnic bargaining and the development of broad, multi-ethnic political parties. This paper examines the empirical record of elections in a range of countries that use preferential voting systems – including Northern Ireland, Estonia, Australia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea. It finds that centripetal strategies can influence the trajectory of democracy in divided societies, but that its application is dependent on some important facilitating conditions, including social and demographic factors.

Item Type: Report
Series Name: ESRC Devolution & constitutional Change Programme
Publisher: Economic and Social Research Council
Copyright: The Author
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