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Voter turnouts, voting rules and the abolishment of run-off elections

Salvatore Barbaro ()

No 2025, Working Papers from Gutenberg School of Management and Economics, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Abstract: Due to low election turnouts, the debate on run-off elections to fill a mayor’s office flames up again and again. On average, roughly 37% cast a vote in recent local run-off elections to fill the office of mayors and district chief executives. A recent attempt by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia to substitute the strict-majority voting cum run-off by the plurality rule failed in court. The reasons given for the ruling by the state’s constitutional court were that the considerations were not sufficient with regard to the “democratic principle of majority decision” However, by taking the “principle of majority decision” as a basis, neither the strict majority voting cum run-off nor the plurality rule meet its requirements. By using the methods of social choice theory, we show that only the simple-majority rule is appropriate to comply with the principle of majority decision. Aside its axiomatic superiority, we show that by using the simplemajority rule a second-round run-off is dispensable. Thus, if run-off elections should be abolished, then the strict-majority rule should be replaced by a superior voting scheme (which identifies the Condorcet winner) rather than by an inferior one.

Pages: 20 pages
Date: 2020-09-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
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