Maurice Duverger (5 June 1917 – 16 December 2014) was a French
jurist, sociologist and politician. He was born in Angoulême,
Starting his career as a jurist at the University of Bordeaux,
Duverger became more and more involved in political science and in
1948 founded one of the first faculties for political science in
Bordeaux, France. An emeritus professor of the Sorbonne and member of
the FNSP, he has published many books and articles in newspapers, such
as Corriere della Sera, la Repubblica, El País, and especially Le
Duverger studied the evolution of political systems and the
institutions that operate in diverse countries, showing a preference
for empirical methods of investigation rather than philosophical
He devised a theory which became known as Duverger's law, which
identifies a correlation between a first-past-the-post election system
and the formation of a two-party system. While analysing the political
system of France, he coined the term semi-presidential system.
From 1989 until 1994, he was a member of the Italian Communist Party,
later the Democratic Party of the Left, in the European Parliament.
In 1981 he was elected a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and
Arts. He died at the age of 97 on 16 December 2014.
1.1 Political parties
2 Duverger's Law
4 See also
6 External links
A member of Doriot's fascist
Parti Populaire Français
Parti Populaire Français from age 20,
Maurice Duverger completed his studies in from the
of Law in 1942, before lecturing in law at
Poitiers in 1942, and
Bordeaux in 1943 (where he would, in 1948, found the Institut
d'Études Politiques as its first director). He also taught at Vichy
France's Institut d'Études Corporatives et Sociales.
In his first publication, "The Constitutions of France" (1944), he
explained that the French constitution of 1940 created a "de facto
government". However, towards the end of the war, Duverger grew close
to the Resistance, and in
Libération analyzed the legitimacy of the
new government of
France and devoted himself to social-scientific
After the War, he taught in the faculty of law and economic sciences
in Paris, 1955 to 1985, and contributed to
Libération and Le Monde.
From 1989 to 1994, he sat in the
European Parliament as an MEP for the
Italian Communist Party.
In 1946 he expanded his theses, with a special interest in the
relation between electoral systems and party systems. This interest is
at the heart of his most important publication: "The Political
Parties" (1951). The work is one of the classics of party research,
translated into several languages. That thesis led to Duverger's law,
and later he coined the term "semi-presidentialism" and
Having as a point of reference their structure, Duverger in his book
Les Partis Politiques (1951) distinguished parties between elite-based
parties and mass-based parties.
Elite-based parties rather prefer the quality of their members over
their quantity, their affiliates being people of great influence on
local or national scale. They have flexible and disorganized
structures, in general are weakly disciplined and lack developed
pragmatic content, allowing each of their members to benefit from an
enormous freedom of action. Their funding is generally provided by a
sponsor, and as their strength comes from their elected
representatives, they are typical parties of parliamentarian creation,
which depend on the reputation and support of their benefactors.
Mass-based parties possess a secure organization and a strong
structure arranged as a pyramid, with superposed
hierarchically-arranged levels. Their members identify themselves more
with the party's ideology than with its leader, so they have an
abstract adhesion. Their decisions are based on the participation of
each one of its members, and its founding is granted by their members'
payments, a situation that leads them to gain as many adherents as
These parties tend to develop on a par with suffrage and democracy.
For instance, elite-based parties execute an often sporadic political
labor, focused on elections. However, the disadvantage this implies in
relation to their contestant parties (which denote permanent labor and
a disciplined and organic structure), impels them to modify their
organization to become mass-based parties.
Main article: Duverger's Law
With discovery attributed to Duverger, he observed the effect and
recorded it in several papers published in the 1950s and 1960s. In the
course of further research, other political scientists began calling
the effect a "law" or principle.
Duverger's law suggests a nexus or
synthesis between a party system and an electoral system: a
proportional representation (PR) system creates the electoral
conditions necessary to foster party development while a plurality
system marginalizes many smaller political parties, resulting in what
is known as a two-party system.
In political science,
Duverger's law is a principle which asserts that
plurality rule elections structured within single-member districts
tends to favor a two-party system. This is one of two hypotheses
proposed by Duverger, the second stating that "the double ballot
majority system and proportional representation tend to
Les partis politiques (1951)
La participation des femmes à la vie politique (1955)
Les finances publiques (1956)
Méthodes de la science politique (1959)
De la dictature (1961)
Méthodes des Sciences sociales (1961)
Introduction à la politique (1964)
Sociologie politique (1966)
La démocratie sans les peuples (1967)
Institutions politiques et Droit constitutionnel (1970)
Janus: les deux faces de l'Occident (1972)
Sociologie de la politique (1973)
L'autre côté des choses (1977)
King's Mate (1978)
Les orangers du lac Balaton (1980)
Factors in a Two-Party and Multiparty System, in Party Politics and
Pressure Groups (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1972), pp. 23–32.
Political Parties: Their Organization and Activity in the Modern State
The Study of Politics ISBN 0-690-79021-X
La République des Citoyens (1982) ISBN 2-85956-311-3
Lettre Ouverte aux Socialistes (Collection Lettre ouverte)
Modern Democracies: Economic Power Versus Political Power
La Cohabitation des Français ISBN 2-13-041498-2
Europe des Hommes: Une Métamorphose Inachevée (1994)
The Idea of Politics: the Uses of Power in Society(1966)
The French Political System
L'Europe dans tous ses États (1995)
^ Le Gendre, Bertrand (22 December 2014). "Mort de Maurice Duverger,
le «pape» de la science politique française".
Le Monde (in
^ Sartori, Giovanni (1994). Comparative Constitutional Engineering: An
Inquiry into Structures, Incentives and Outcomes. Macmillan.
Classification of political parties[permanent dead link] (in Spanish)
Personal profile of
Maurice Duverger in the European Parliament's
database of members
Short biography (in French)
ISNI: 0000 0001 2137 9580
BNF: cb11901480p (data)