Constitutions and Constitutional Trends since World War II: An Examination of Significant Aspects of Postwar Public Law with Particular Reference to the New Constitutions of Western Europe

By Arnold J. Zurcher | Go to book overview

3
Electoral Changes after World War II

By Edward G. Lewis UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS

H OW people vote and how their representatives speak for them are vital aspects of democracy, because while democracy is an idea, it is also machinery. And a democracy built out of faulty machinery is itself faulty. So a study of the electoral process and of the representative legislature of a state is, actually, a study of how democratic that state is.

The constitution-builders in postwar democracies knew that this was true, so, they built their electoral and representative systems most carefully. In only a few countries have the electoral and legislative systems been twisted away from democracy -- from majority rule. South Africa is one of these. But the over-all trend is toward improved representation.

Different countries have become a part of this trend by different routes. This is to be expected, because governments are a part of the tradition of the country -- of its way of life, its customs, and its aspirations. But, fortunately, there are not as many routes to improved legislative representation as there are democratic countries. Instead, there are mainly two: those used in the so-called two- party parliamentary countries and those used in the multiparty parliamentary countries.

In the two-party countries, mainly Great Britain and the Commonwealth countries, the route to improved representation has been, with few exceptions, through slight changes and improvements in the existing system.

In Great Britain itself, in the postwar period, there was no major change in the underlying idea of the representational system. It is

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