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The United Kingdom: Reforming the Westminster Model

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Abstract

Plurality rule voting has historically lain at the heart of the Westminster system and of British ‘exceptionalism’ from its European counterparts. Throughout most of the twentieth century, the fundamental British conceptions of how liberal democracy should link citizens to their governments and political representatives have been based on customary ways of counting votes, have sought only very limited information about people’s preference structures, and have been strikingly unresponsive in many different ways to wider patterns of social and political change. Political representation and accountability to citizens have been interpreted in a minimal way, within a long-lived and arguably ‘primitive’ conception of the scope of accountability and the meaning of citizens’ representation. This approach survived intact for virtually the whole century — despite the transformative impacts of two world wars, massive economic and social class changes and the shift from Fordist and patriarchal social structures to ‘postmodern’ patterns of social life.

Keywords

  • Electoral System
  • Liberal Democracy
  • Vote Share
  • Plurality Rule
  • European Election

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Further reading

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  • Farrell, David M. and Michael Gallagher (1999) ‘British Voters and Their Criteria for Evaluating Electoral Systems,’ British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 1: 293–316.

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  • Hart, Jeniffer (1992) Proportional Represerttation: Critics of the British Electoral System, 1820–1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

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  • Linton, M. and M. Southcott (1998) Making Votes Count: The Case for Electoral Reform. London: Profile Books.

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© 2004 Patrick Dunleavy and Helen Margetts

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Dunleavy, P., Margetts, H. (2004). The United Kingdom: Reforming the Westminster Model. In: Colomer, J.M. (eds) The Handbook of Electoral System Choice. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230522749_16

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