French Politics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 126–130 | Cite as

Is Duverger’s law valid?

  • André Blais
Review Article


I show that, contrary to Duverger’s law, three or four parties receive at least 5 per cent of the votes in most districts in British and Canadian elections. This is so because the voters and the parties are not necessarily short-term utility maximizers as the theory assumes. Still, the basic intuition that fewer parties obtain significant support under single-member district plurality elections is absolutely correct. Duverger also makes an important contribution instressing the impact of electoral formulas, a fruitful antidote to the exclusive emphasis that recent research has given to district magnitude.


Duverger electoral formula district magnitude plurality electoral system 



The author would like to thank Jean-François Daoust for excellent research assistance.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • André Blais
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de science politique, Université de MontréalMontréal (Québec)Canada

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