Skip to main content
Log in

The merits of Neo-Downsian modeling of the alternative vote: A reply to Horowitz

Public Choice Aims and scope Submit manuscript


In Professor Horowitz’s rejoinders (2004, 2006) to Fraenkel and Grofman (2004, 2006a), he mischaracterizes our formal results, retreats from previous claims about the conditions for the alternative vote electoral system to generate centripetal outcomes, renders explicit his dubious assumptions about voter behavior in divided societies, and greatly exaggerates the global evidence in support of pro-moderation outcomes under the alternative vote. Here we respond to Horowitz's (2004), criticism in this journal of the formal model of Fraenkel and Grofman (2004) and to the broader defense in Horowitz (2006) of majoritarian vote pooling arrangements as means of mitigating ethnic conflict in deeply divided societies.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions


  • Baker, L. (2005). Political Integrity Laws in Papua New Guinea and the Search for Stability. Pacific Economic Bulletin, 20(1).

  • Black, D. (1958). The theory of committees and elections. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Bowler, S., & Grofman, B. (2000). Introduction. In: S. Bowler, & B. Grofman (Eds.), Elections in Australia, Ireland and Malta under the single transferable vote (pp. 1–14). Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press.

  • Cox, G. (1997). Making votes count: Strategic coordination in the World's electoral systems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Duverger, M. (1959). Political parties, their organization and activity in the modern state (Translated by Barbara and Robert North) (2nd edition). New York: Wiley.

  • Dinnen, S. (1998). Weakness and strength – state, society and order in Papua New Guinea. In: P. Dauvergne (Ed.), Weak and strong states in Asia-Pacific societies (pp. 38–59). Allen & Unwin & ANU.

  • Elliot, S. (2003). North Vote sees over 80 per cent of Transfers Stay within Party. Irish Times.

  • Fraenkel, J. (2000). The triumph of the non-idealist intellectuals? An investigation of Fiji's 1999 election results. Australian Journal of Politics and History, (46), 1.

  • Fraenkel, J. (2001a). The alternative vote system in Fiji; electoral engineering or ballot-rigging? Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 39(2), 1–31.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraenkel, J. (2001b). The clash of dynasties and the rise of demagogues; Fiji's Tauri Vakaukauwa of May 2000. Journal of Pacific History, 35(3).

  • Fraenkel, J. (2005). The political consequences of Pacific Island electoral laws. SSGM, ANU, Discussion Paper

  • Fraenkel, J., & Grofman, B. (2004). A Neo-Downsian model of the alternative vote as a mechanism for mitigating ethnic conflict in plural societies. Public Choice, 121(3–4), 487–506.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraenkel, J., & Grofman, B. (2005). Editor's introduction: Political culture, representation and electoral systems in the Pacific Islands. Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 43(3), 261–275.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraenkel, J., & Grofman, B. (2006a). Does the alternative vote foster moderation in ethnically divided societies? The case of Fiji. Comparative Political Studies, 39(5), 623–651.

    Google Scholar 

  • Fraenkel, J., & Grofman, B. (2006b). The failure of the alternative vote as a tool for promoting ethnic moderation in Fiji: A reply to Horowitz. Comparative Political Studies, 39(5), 663–666.

    Google Scholar 

  • Gelu, A. (2005). The failure of the organic law on the integrity of political parties and candidates (OLIPPAC). Pacific Economic Bulletin, 20(1), 83–97.

    Google Scholar 

  • Grofman, B. (1999). Preface: Methodological steps toward the study of embedded institutions. In: B. Grofman, S.-C. Lee, E. Winckler, & B. Woodall (Eds.), Elections in Japan, Korea and Taiwan under the single non-transferable vote: The comparative study of an embedded institution (pp. ix–xvii). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.

  • Grofman, B., & Feld, S. L. (2004). If you like the alternative vote (a.k.a. the instant runoff), then you ought to know about the Coombs rule. Electoral Studies, 23, 641–659.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horowitz, D.L. (1985). Ethnic Groups in Conflict. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (1989). Incentives and behaviour in the ethnic politics of Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Third World Quarterly, 10(4), 18–35.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (1991). A democratic South Africa? Constitutional engineering in a divided society. Berkeley: University of California Press.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (1997). Encouraging electoral accommodation in divided societies. In: B.V. Lal, & P. Larmour (Eds.), Electoral systems in divided societies: The Fiji constitutional review. Canberra: ANU.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (2000). Some realism about peacemaking. Paper delivered at the conference “Facing Ethnic Conflicts'' Center for Development Research: Facing Ethnic Conflicts, Bonn, 14–16 December 2000, pp.~1–17.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (2002). Constitutional design: Proposals versus process. In: A. Reynolds (Ed.), The architecture of democracy; Constitutional design, conflict management and democracy (pp. 15–36). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Horowitz, D.L. (2003). Electoral systems: A primer for decision makers. Journal of Democracy, 14(4), 115–127.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horowitz D.L. (2004). The alternative vote and interethnic moderation: A reply to Fraenkel and Grofman. Public Choice, 121(3–4), 507–516.

    Google Scholar 

  • Horowitz, D.L. (2006). Strategy takes a holiday. Comparative Political Studies, 39(5), 652–662.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jansen, H.J. (2004). The political consequences of the alternative vote: Lessons from Western Canada. Canadian Journal of Political Science, 37(3), 647–669.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ketan, J. (2004). The name must not go down; Political competition and state-society relations in Mount Hagen, Papua New Guinea. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies, USP.

  • Laponce, J.A. (1957). The protection of minorities by the electoral system. The Western Political Quarterly, 10(2), 318–339.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lijphart, A. (1991). The alternative vote: A realistic alternative for South Africa? Politkon, 18(2), 91–101.

  • Lijphart, A. (1997). Disproportionality under alternative voting: The crucial – and puzzling – case of the Australian Senate Elections, 1919–1946. Acta Politica, 32(1), 9–24.

    Google Scholar 

  • May, R. (2003). Disorderly democracy: Political turbulence and institutional reform in Papua New Guinea, state, society & governance in Melanesia. Discussion paper, 2003/3.

  • May, R. (2006 forthcoming) Political parties in Papua New Guinea. In: R. Rich, L. Hambly, & M. Morgan (Eds.), Political Parties in the Pacific Islands. Canberra: Pandanus Press.

  • Okole, H. (2005). The fluid party system in Papua New Guinea. Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 43(3), 362–381.

    Google Scholar 

  • Punnett, R.M. (1986). The alternative vote with optional use of preferences: Some Irish Lessons for Britain and Australia. Journal of Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, xxiv, 1.

  • Regenwetter, M., Grofman, B., Marley, A.A.J., & Tsetlin, I. (2006). Behavioral social choice: Probabilistic models, statistical inference, and applications. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  • Reilly, B. (2001). Democracy in divided societies; Electoral engineering for conflict management. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Sharman, C., Sayers, A.M., & Miragliotta, N. (2002). Trading party preferences: The Australian experience of preferential voting. Electoral Studies, 21, 543–560.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sisk, T. (1996). Power sharing and international mediation in ethnic conflict. Washington, D.C: United States Institute of Peace.

  • Standish, B. (2002). Papua New Guinea politics: Attempting to engineer the future. Development Bulletin, 60, 28–32.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wright, J.F.H. (1986). Australian experience with majority-preferential and quota preferential systems. In: B. Grofman, & A. Lijphart (Eds.), Electoral laws and their political consequences (pp. 124–138). New York: Agathon Press.

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Bernard Grofman.

Additional information

We are indebted to Clover Behrend-Gethard for bibliographic assistance.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Fraenkel, J., Grofman, B. The merits of Neo-Downsian modeling of the alternative vote: A reply to Horowitz. Public Choice 133, 1–11 (2007).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: