Rules, Choice and Strategy

Rules, Choice and Strategy

The Political Economy of Italian Electoral Reform

The Locke Institute series

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

This topical book analyses the change of electoral rules in Italy from proportional representation toward plurality. While Italy is used as the illustrative case, the analysis has far-ranging theoretical and practical implications, and will therefore be of interest to academics and researchers of political economy, constitutionalism and public choice.

Chapter 4: Electoral Systems, Electoral Formulae and Italian Electoral Rules

Ram Mudambi, Pietro Maria Navarra and Giuseppe Sobbrio

Subjects: economics and finance, public choice theory, politics and public policy, public choice


The choice between different electoral rules is widely regarded by political scientists as one of the three fundamental institutional decisions made by a democratic polity.1 In the literature on electoral systems, the distinction between proportional, semi-proportional and majoritarian/plurality systems is standard (Grofman, 1975). The geographical distribution of electoral systems across continents is presented in Tables 4.1 and 4.2 (Grofman and Reynolds,1997). As can be seen, the threefold distinction pointed out above is simplified here as we focus on just two groups of electoral systems: PL systems and PR systems, including what are commonly known as semi-proportional systems. Table 4.1 PL electoral systems across geographical areas2 PL SYSTEMS FPTP Africa Americas Asia CIS & Post Communist States Western Europe Middle East Oceania Total Notes: FPTPϭFirst Past The Post system BVϭBlock Voting AVϭAlternative Voting TRSϭTwo round System Source: Lijphart (1994). Detailed definitions of all these systems are available in this source. BV 2 (4%) 2 (4%) 5 (23%) 0 0 3 (30%) 1 (4%) 13 AV TRS 18 (33%) 19 (40%) 10 (45%) 1 (4%) 4 (14%) 3 (30%) 13 (60%) 68 0 10 (18%) 0 6 (12%) 0 1 (5%) 0 8 (30%) 0 2 (7%) 0 2 (20%) 2 (9%) 2 (9%) 2 31 76 Electoral systems, electoral formulae and Italian electoral rules 77 As Table 4.1 illustrates, FPTP systems make up approximately 30-45 per cent of the total in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas. This system is less common...

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