Insights and Analysis

New Article Explores Electoral Systems in Emerging Democracies

January 25, 2012

“The choice of an electoral system must not be taken lightly. … Far too often in transitional or developing settings, the choice of a system is the work of a lamentably small group of people who then enshrine their decision in a constitution adopted after a sketchy public debate held in a context where few have a full grasp of the long-term significance of electoral-system design,” writes The Asia Foundation’s director for Elections and Political Processes, Timothy M. Meisburger, in a new article, “Getting Majoritarianism Wrong,” published in the January issue of Journal of Democracy. Meisburger, who wrote the article while on sabbatical as a World Learning Democracy Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), challenges popular assumptions around electoral systems, particularly that emerging democracies are better off with an electoral system based on proportional representation. Written just as the Arab Spring unrest erupted in the Middle East, Meisburger draws on previous experience with similar democratic transitions in South Africa, Indonesia, and Timor-Leste to examine developing democracies in the Middle East and North Africa. Download the full article.

Related programs: Elections


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