What Kind of Electoral Outcome do People Think is Good for Democracy?

André Blais, Damien Bol, Shaun Bowler, David Farrel, Martial Foucault, Annika Fredén, Emmanuel Heisbourg, Romain Lachat, Ignacio Lago, Peter John Loewen, Miroslav Nemcok, Jean-Benoit Pilet, Carolina Plescia

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There is perennial debate in comparative politics about electoral institutions, but what characterizes this debate is the lack of consideration for citizens’ perspective. In this paper, we report the results of an original survey conducted on representative samples in 15 West European countries (N = 15,414). We implemented an original instrument to elicit respondents’ views by asking them to rate “real but blind” electoral outcomes. With this survey instrument, we aimed to elicit principled rather than partisan preferences regarding the kind of electoral outcomes that citizens think is good for democracy. We find that West Europeans do not clearly endorse a majoritarian or proportional vision of democracy. They tend to focus on aspects of the government rather than parliament when they pass a judgment. They want a majority government that has few parties and enjoys wide popular support. Finally, we find only small differences between citizens of different countries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 9 Oct 2021


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