LibLink: every key Westminster model country is hung

A blog post from Prof Patrick Dunleavy at the LSE on the Australian election results points out that, for the first time in history, every key Westminster Model country – the UK, India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand – has a hung parliament.

For the first time in history, the Australian outcome means that every key ‘Westminster model’ country in the world now has a hung Parliament. These are the former British empire countries that according to decades of political science orthodoxy are supposed to produce strong, single party government. Following Duverger’s Law their allegedly ‘majoritarian’ electoral systems (first past the post and AV) will typically produce reinforced majorities for one of the top two parties.

Dunleavy, who lectured me on political systems when I was an undergraduate at the LSE rather longer ago – I suspect – than either of us would care to remember, wonders whether

For the UK’s forthcoming referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote, this recognition that the world as a whole is changing towards more complex and multi-party politics may sway some more voters and politicians towards backing reform.

…or whether all these coalitions will lead people to reject reform as they hanker after the sort of strong, decisive government we saw under prime ministers like Major and Brown.

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8 Comments

  • John Richardson 23rd Aug '10 - 7:35pm

    as they hanker after the sort of strong, decisive government we saw under prime ministers like Major and Brown.

    You owe me a new keyboard, Sir! LOL.

  • NZ is holding a referendum on its voting system in 2011. Currently MMP (as in Wales/Scotland). One of the options is to go back to FPTP.

    http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/survey-shows-changes-wanted-voting-system-3688300

  • paul barker 23rd Aug '10 - 7:54pm

    Isnt it arguable that the UK is Federation too, with 4,5 or 6 different political set-ups ?

  • With the greatest respect to the authors this makes no sense at all. What constitutes a “key” country? Why does the definition exclude the world’s sixth most popular country: Pakistan but include the tiny island of New Zealand (population considerably smaller than the East Midlands)? Also India does not have a hung parliament – the UPA has an outright majority – and New Zealand has PR.

    Also this seems to be declaring Duverger’s law dead based upon:

    One country (the UK) where the two main parties hold 564/649 seats
    One country (India) where one party has an absolute majority
    One country (Australia) where the two main parties look set to hold 145/150 seats
    One country (New Zealand) which has PR so Duverger’s doesn’t apply
    and Canada

    So basicly this seems declaring Duverger’s law dead solely on the basis of one election in Canada?

  • Apologies – populous not popular.

  • I also don’t follow the second piece of logic which effectively says “For the UK’s forthcoming referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote, this recognition that AV and First Past the Post systems no longer perform adequately may sway some more voters and politicians towards backing AV”

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