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Proportionality in two dimensions: resolving an old dilemma of political (mis)representation


Lüscher, Sandro (2021). Proportionality in two dimensions: resolving an old dilemma of political (mis)representation. In: SVPW-Kongress, online, 3 February 2021 - 4 February 2021, s.n..

Abstract

The contemporary idea that a parliament acts as a mirror of voter’s party preferences is historically still very young. At the dawn of modern representative government, parliamentary elections were held within small, territorially confined communities. Legislators appeared as agents of their local electorates. While local representation implies a multitude of small districts, the realization of proportional party representation on the other hand requires a small quantity of large districts. Given the apparent incompatibility of the two concepts, representative democracies are faced with the challenge of finding a middle ground between the two antipodes. Through the interaction of legal coercion and horizontal transfer, eight of the Swiss cantons moved to a new, so-called biproportional apportionment method, which reconciles the two antithetical concepts. The new method constitutes a remarkable innovation both, theoretically and methodically. While several electoral researchers devoted themselves to studying the methodical side of the new system, the community has so far failed to engage into a discussion of its contributions on a theoretical level. The paper aims at closing this gap by putting the biproportional method in a context of the history of representation theory and by outlining its undervalued innovations that become particularly e˙ective in a heterogeneous federal state such as Switzerland.

Abstract

The contemporary idea that a parliament acts as a mirror of voter’s party preferences is historically still very young. At the dawn of modern representative government, parliamentary elections were held within small, territorially confined communities. Legislators appeared as agents of their local electorates. While local representation implies a multitude of small districts, the realization of proportional party representation on the other hand requires a small quantity of large districts. Given the apparent incompatibility of the two concepts, representative democracies are faced with the challenge of finding a middle ground between the two antipodes. Through the interaction of legal coercion and horizontal transfer, eight of the Swiss cantons moved to a new, so-called biproportional apportionment method, which reconciles the two antithetical concepts. The new method constitutes a remarkable innovation both, theoretically and methodically. While several electoral researchers devoted themselves to studying the methodical side of the new system, the community has so far failed to engage into a discussion of its contributions on a theoretical level. The paper aims at closing this gap by putting the biproportional method in a context of the history of representation theory and by outlining its undervalued innovations that become particularly e˙ective in a heterogeneous federal state such as Switzerland.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Speech), not_refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Uncontrolled Keywords:biproportional apportionment, political representation, Swiss cantons
Language:English
Event End Date:4 February 2021
Deposited On:28 Sep 2021 09:00
Last Modified:17 Aug 2023 13:17
Publisher:s.n.
Additional Information:A previous version of this paper was presented at the ECPR Virtual General Conference 24-28 August 2020
OA Status:Green
Related URLs:https://eshop.svpw-assp.ch/en/ (Organisation)
  • Content: Accepted Version
  • Language: English