In light of the Australian result, Patrick Dunleavy with the London School of Economics surveys the world’s major Westminster parliaments, the state of governance and the possibility of electoral reform.
Although Duverger’s Law is clearly dead, and the idea of using a voting system to artificially create Parliamentary majorities is on its deathbed. But in all five these countries, the executive is still in a powerful position relative to the legislature … Yet although ‘Westminster model’ countries continue to share a powerful institutional heritage, it seems doubtful that the electoral aspects of the model can ever be the same again. For the UK’s forthcoming referendum on adopting the Alternative Vote, this recognition that the world as a whole is changing towards more complex and multi-party politics may sway some more voters and politicians towards backing reform.
Then again, since the Australian system, like ‘first past the post’ elections, has now failed to produce a clear electoral outcome, those who hanker after artificial majorities may take it as further reason for opposing change.