Electoral rules and voting behaviour: Australia in comparative perspective

Elliot Samson

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The academic literature has long acknowledged that electoral rules have important consequences for voter attitudes and behaviour. However, few studies have analysed these consequences in comparative perspective, while no detailed, cross-time analysis has been conducted on the attitudinal and behavioural impact of Australia's unique institutional milieu. Composed of a bicameral parliament that uses preferential voting system in the lower house, and a single transferable vote form of proportional representation in the upper house, the Australian system also involves compulsory voting – all eligible citizens being required to attend the polls. Of the relative few studies that have cast light on the effect of this electoral context, most focus on a single pattern of electoral behaviour, are based on a limited sample of election studies, or were undertaken between 10 and 20 years ago. No study has pursued an in-depth, longitudinal analysis of the influence of Australia's electoral environment on voter attitudes and behaviour. An evaluation of the connection between Australian voters and their political context that is able to transcend election-specific factors requires a larger study that examines several patterns of electoral behaviour across multiple elections. This study systematically examines the influence of electoral rules on voter attitudes and behaviour using data from eight separate Australian election studies across a period of 20 years. It re-examines American and British minor party, economic and leader-oriented models of voting in the context of Australian electoral rules. To highlight the influence of Australian electoral rules, it compares and contrasts the Australian findings for these three patterns of electoral behaviour with long accepted published results in the United States and Great Britain.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012


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