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Democratic design and democratic reform: the case of Australia

Reilly, B. (2016) Democratic design and democratic reform: the case of Australia. Taiwan Journal of Democracy, 12 (2). pp. 1-16.

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Distinctive aspects of Australian democracy-high levels of participation, aggregative voting systems, and a utilitarian preference for government to play the role of both rulemaker and arbiter-are rooted in the institutional configuration of Australian politics. This essay argues that Australia’s unique combination of majoritarian and proportional preferential electoral models has seen the emergence of a political system which, for the most part, has balanced the need for strong government in the lower House of Representatives with broader representation in the Senate. Preferential voting also has tended to push Australian politics toward the center, avoiding the polarization found in comparable democracies such as the United States. As a result, Australian electoral institutions are increasingly being examined, advocated, or adopted elsewhere.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs
Publisher: Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
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