Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Political Science


Susan L. Woodward

Committee Members

John Bowman

Charles Tien

Subject Categories

Political Science


electoral rules, new democracies, old democracies, institutional strength, informal institutions, context


Comparative research on electoral systems has focused on the generalizability of the effects of electoral institutions, such as plurality rules in single member districts leading to two party systems. However, exceptions have been noted in new democracies. So, do electoral rules have the same effects across all democracies? Challenging the conventional wisdom that simply links electoral systems and their effects, I claim that whether a democracy is new or old does not systematically explain variations in party systems across all democracies. Instead, I argue that institutional strength, informal institutions, and context variables along with the traditional predictor variable, electoral systems explain the electoral systems, such as party system. Thus, new democracies may, but do not always, hold to generalizations like “Duverger’s Law”.

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