Public Choice

, Volume 158, Issue 3–4, pp 483–497 | Cite as

Picking a loser? A social choice perspective on the Danish government formation of 1975

  • Peter Kurrild-KlitgaardEmail author


All democratic systems are theoretically open to so-called election inversions, i.e., instances wherein a majority of the decision makers prefer one alternative but where the actual outcome is another. The paper examines the complex 1975 Danish government formation process, which involved five rounds of negotiations and at least five competing alternatives. We demonstrate that in terms of party preferences the final outcome was not the Condorcet winner but rather one that could have been beaten by at least three other government alternatives in head-to-head comparisons. The Danish procedural system of “negative” parliamentarism combined with simple plurality rule to produce the electoral inversion.


Social choice Voting paradoxes Election inversions 



I am grateful to Lars Bille, Flemming Juul Christiansen, Jørgen Elklit, Jacob Hariri, Michael Munger, Mogens N. Pedersen, and especially Bill Shughart for discussions, suggestions and helpful comments related to this paper. The paper was written as an Academic Visitor at Nuffield College, Oxford, 2012.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dept. of Political ScienceUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagen KDenmark

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