Elections Abroad

Elections Abroad

Elections Abroad

Elections Abroad

Excerpt

This volume chronicles a decisive recent event in the political life of each of four countries. The importance of elections is too great and the study of them too well-established for any defence of the subject-matter to be necessary. But it is reasonable to ask why the experience of four such diverse states as France, Poland, Ireland, and South Africa should be treated under one cover. Can the electoral process in different parts of the world be usefully compared? Are these four countries particularly suited to comparative treatment?

Each of the studies that make up this volume stands as a self- sufficient attempt to provide, within given limits of space, a full report upon a national election. Their main common element (apart from their being financed, in whole or in part, by Nuffield College) lies in their conformity to the broad tradition of description and analysis set by the four studies of British General Elections which the College has sponsored since the war.

Psephology has taken different forms in different countries. The French, under the influence of M. Siegfried, have tended to devote themselves to a statistical-cum-sociological approach through which, by comparing election returns with census data, they have built up a picture of religious, regional, and occupational variations in the make-up of the right- and left-wing vote in France. The Scandinavians have tended to follow suit. American political scientists, taking advantage of sample surveys, have concentrated on the voter in a different way, seeking out the influences to which he is subject and the factors which make him change his allegiance. In Britain, the technical provisions of the Ballot Act render the French approach impossible, while cost and academic conservatism have prevented any extensive following of the American example. The British emphasis has been less on the voter and more on the efforts to influence him, and has concentrated on . . .

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