Electing the President - Electing the President An American...

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Electing the President An American Anachronism? D. Jason Berggren University of Georgia Spring 2008
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Those Anachronistic Americans “In the age of the Internet, we still rely on a horse-and-buggy election system…a relic of the past. ..[we are] stuck in a time warp… The Electoral College [is] a curious vestige of the eighteenth century…It’s time to bring our elections into the twenty-first century” --- Carolyn Jefferson-Jenkins, President of the League of Women Voters (2001, 149-150)
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Those Anachronistic Americans “If the [Electoral College] scheme is so good, why doesn’t any U.S. State, or any foreign nation, copy it?” --- Akhil Amar, Professor-Yale Law School (2001, 146)
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Those Anachronistic Americans “Argentina, Finland, and Taiwan have all recently abolished electoral colleges, leaving the United States with the world’s last electoral college to select a [non-ceremonial] president” (Shugart 2004, 638)
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Those Anachronistic Americans “The United States is now…one of only two [countries] in which a candidate can become president without having obtained the highest number of votes in the sole or final round of popular voting” (Shugart 2004, 647)
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U.S. Electoral Outlier United States first to separate election of president from legislature (independent survival) obviously, prime ministers are dependent on parliamentary majority for survival and lack fixed terms United States first to institute popular election in general and nomination stages (involvement of voters-1824 & 1912) for rest of “pure” presidential systems popular component for general elections not until late 19th and 20th century and since 1990s for party nomination contests
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U.S. Electoral Outlier for general elections, norm in presidential systems is nationwide direct popular vote second round runoff commonly held if no majority winner US has No Runoff between top two candidates; voters 2nd preferences not considered
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U.S. Electoral Outlier Most common presidential methods are popular and direct majority vote/runoff (France, Brazil, Chile, Taiwan) qualified plurality/runoff (Argentina) 40% vote minimum/runoff (Costa Rica) few use plurality vote any longer (Mexico) few have presidents handpicking successors Russia (2008): Vladimir Putin’s selection of Dmitri Medvedev ruling PRI party in Mexico before 2000
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Majority Vote w/Runoff France 2007 1st Round 2nd Round Union for a Popular Mov’t 31.2% 53.1% Nicholas Sarkozy Socialist Party 25.9% 46.9% Segolene Royal Union for French Democracy 18.6% National Front 10.4% Revo. Communist League 4.1% Movement for France 2.2% Communist Party 1.9% Greens 1.6% Others 4.1% Other Examples: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Uruguay; Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Taiwan
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Qualified Plurality Vote w/Runoff Argentina 2007 1st Round Front for Victory Alliance 44.9% Cristina Fernandez Civic Coalition Confederation 23.0% Elisa Carrio An Advanced Nation
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course POLIS 1101 taught by Professor Berggren during the Spring '08 term at University of Georgia Athens.

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Electing the President - Electing the President An American...

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