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How electoral systems matter for democratization

Abstract

Electoral rules delimit the democratic game, but are also part of the game. In conjunction with political culture and skills they lead to an electoral system. This overview first addresses their effect in mature democracies, especially on the number of parliamentary parties and deviation from proportionality. The results are cautiously extended to early democratization. The main advice is to keep the electoral rules simple, so that world-wide empirical and analytical experience can be used to obtain somewhat predictable outcomes. Once chosen, keep the same rules for at least three elections, so that an electoral system has time to develop. For scholars the main lesson of the newly democratizing countries is modesty in prediction.

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