Social Choice and Welfare

, Volume 40, Issue 1, pp 263–284 | Cite as

The two-party system under alternative voting procedures

  • Arnaud DellisEmail author
Original Paper


Countries that elect their policy-makers by means of Plurality Voting tend to have a two-party system. This observation can be explained by the strategic behavior of voters. This article derives two broad classes of voting procedures under which strategic voting behavior induces a two-party system under standard assumptions on voter preferences. One class consists of the voting procedures with unique top-score, i.e., under which a voter can cast a top-score vote for only one candidate (e.g., Plurality Voting, Borda Count). The other class consists of the voting procedures that permit truncated ballots, i.e., under which voters do not have to cast all their votes (e.g., Approval Voting). This analysis suggests that the key for strategic voting behavior to induce a two-party system is that voters can always cast a different score for the two candidates they rank first and second on their ballots.


Median Voter Approval Vote Vote Procedure Voter Preference Borda Count 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Université Laval and CIRPEEQuébecCanada

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