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An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a
population Population typically refers to the number of people in a single area, whether it be a city or town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than cities, though the criteria to distinguish b ...
chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern
representative democracy Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected people represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy. Nearly all modern Western-style democracies function as some type of repres ...
has operated since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the
legislature A legislature is an assembly with the authority to make laws for a political entity such as a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis o ...
, sometimes in the executive and
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the au ...
, and for regional and local government. This process is also used in many other private and
business Business is the practice of making one's living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (such as goods and services). It is also "any activity or enterprise entered into for profit." Having a business name does not sep ...
organisations, from clubs to voluntary associations and
corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company A company, abbreviated as co., is a legal entity representing an association of people, whether natural, legal or a mixture of both, with a specific objecti ...
s. The global use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in the democratic archetype, ancient
Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital city, capital and List of cities and towns in Greece, largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh List ...
, where the elections were considered an oligarchic institution and most political offices were filled using
sortition In governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vo ...
, also known as allotment, by which officeholders were chosen by lot. Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair
electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in politics to elect governments, while non-political elections m ...
s where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems. Psephology is the study of results and other
statistics Statistics (from German: '' Statistik'', "description of a state, a country") is the discipline that concerns the collection, organization, analysis, interpretation, and presentation of data. In applying statistics to a scientific, indus ...
relating to elections (especially with a view to predicting future results). Election is the fact of electing, or being elected. To ''elect'' means "to select or make a decision", and so sometimes other forms of ballot such as
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct vote by the electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a representative. This may result in the adoption o ...
s are referred to as elections, especially in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territor ...
.


History

Elections were used as early in history as
ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
and
ancient Rome In modern historiography, ancient Rome refers to Roman civilisation from the founding of the city of Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus ( legendary) , image_ ...
, and throughout the Medieval period to select rulers such as the Holy Roman Emperor (see imperial election) and the
pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, 'father'), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome (or historically the patriarch of Rome), head of the worldwide Catho ...
(see papal election)."Election (political science)"
''Encyclopædia Britannica''. Retrieved 18 August 2009
In the Vedic period of India, the ''
raja ''Raja'' (; from , IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; no ...
'' (kings) of a '' gaṇa'' (a tribal organization) was elected by the ''gana''. The ''raja'' always belonged to the
Kshatriya Kshatriya ( hi, क्षत्रिय) (from Sanskrit ''kṣatra'', "rule, authority") is one of the four varna (social orders) of Hindu Hindus (; ) are people who religiously adhere to Hinduism Hinduism () is an Indi ...
varna (warrior class), and was typically a son of the previous ''raja''. However, the ''gana'' members had the final say in his elections. Even during the Sangam Period people elected their representatives by casting their votes and the ballot boxes (usually a pot) were tied by rope and sealed. After the election the votes were taken out and counted. The Pala King Gopala (ruled c. 750s – 770s CE) in early medieval
Bengal Bengal ( ; bn, বাংলা/বঙ্গ, translit=Bānglā/Bôngô, ) is a geopolitical, cultural and historical region in South Asia South Asia is the southern subregion of Asia Asia (, ) is one of the world's most no ...
was elected by a group of feudal chieftains. Such elections were quite common in contemporary societies of the region. In the Chola Empire, around 920 CE, in Uthiramerur (in present-day
Tamil Nadu Tamil Nadu (; , TN) is a state in southern India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous d ...
), palm leaves were used for selecting the village committee members. The leaves, with candidate names written on them, were put inside a mud pot. To select the committee members, a young boy was asked to take out as many leaves as the number of positions available. This was known as the ''Kudavolai'' system. The first recorded popular elections of officials to public office, by majority vote, where all citizens were eligible both to vote and to hold public office, date back to the Ephors of
Sparta Sparta ( Doric Greek: Σπάρτα, ''Spártā''; Attic Greek Attic Greek is the Greek dialect of the ancient region of Attica, including the '' polis'' of Athens. Often called classical Greek, it was the prestige dialect of the G ...
in 754 BC, under the mixed government of the Spartan Constitution.
Athenian Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the seventh largest city in the European Union. Athens dominates ...
democratic elections, where all citizens could hold public office, were not introduced for another 247 years, until the reforms of
Cleisthenes Cleisthenes ( ; grc-gre, Κλεισθένης), or Clisthenes (c. 570c. 508 BC), was an ancient Athenian lawgiver credited with reforming the constitution of ancient Athens Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai ...
. Under the earlier Solonian Constitution (circa 574 BC), all Athenian citizens were eligible to vote in the popular assemblies, on matters of law and policy, and as jurors, but only the three highest classes of citizens could vote in elections. Nor were the lowest of the four classes of Athenian citizens (as defined by the extent of their wealth and property, rather than by birth) eligible to hold public office, through the reforms of
Solon Solon ( grc-gre, Σόλων;  BC) was an Athenian Athens ( ; el, Αθήνα, Athína ; grc, Ἀθῆναι, Athênai (pl.) ) is both the capital and largest city of Greece. With a population close to four million, it is also the s ...
. The Spartan election of the Ephors, therefore, also predates the reforms of Solon in Athens by approximately 180 years. Questions of
suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections and referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct vote by the electorate on a proposal, la ...
, especially suffrage for minority groups, have dominated the history of elections. Males, the dominant cultural group in North America and Europe, often dominated the electorate and continue to do so in many countries. Early elections in countries such as the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
and the United States were dominated by landed or ruling class males. However, by 1920 all Western European and North American democracies had universal adult male suffrage (except Switzerland) and many countries began to consider
women's suffrage Women's suffrage is the right of women to vote in elections. Beginning in the start of the 18th century, some people sought to change voting laws to allow women to vote. Liberal political parties would go on to grant women the right to vot ...
. Despite legally mandated universal suffrage for adult males, political barriers were sometimes erected to prevent fair access to elections (see
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, i ...
).


Contexts of elections

Elections are held in a variety of political, organizational, and corporate settings. Many countries hold elections to select people to serve in their governments, but other types of organizations hold elections as well. For example, many corporations hold elections among
shareholders A shareholder (in the United States often referred to as stockholder) of a corporation is an individual or legal entity (such as another corporation, a body politic, a trust Trust often refers to: * Trust (social science), confidence in o ...
to select a
board of directors A board of directors (commonly referred simply as the board) is an executive committee that jointly supervises the activities of an organization, which can be either a for-profit or a nonprofit organization such as a business, nonprofit orga ...
, and these elections may be mandated by corporate law. In many places, an election to the government is usually a competition among people who have already won a
primary election Primary elections, or direct primary are a voting process by which voters can indicate their preference for their party's candidate, or a candidate in general, in an upcoming general election, local election, or by-election. Depending on th ...
within a
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or ...
. Elections within corporations and other organizations often use procedures and rules that are similar to those of governmental elections.


Electorate


Suffrage

The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. The electorate does not generally include the entire population; for example, many countries prohibit those who are under the age of majority from voting. All jurisdictions require a minimum age for voting. In Australia, Aboriginal people were not given the right to vote until 1962 (see 1967 referendum entry) and in 2010 the federal government removed the rights of prisoners serving for 3 years or more to vote (a large proportion of which were Aboriginal Australians). Suffrage is typically only for citizens of the country, though further limits may be imposed. However, in the European Union, one can vote in municipal elections if one lives in the municipality and is an EU citizen; the nationality of the country of residence is not required. In some countries, voting is required by law. Eligible voters may be subject to punitive measures such as a fine for not casting a vote. In Western Australia, the penalty for a first time offender failing to vote is a $20.00 fine, which increases to $50.00 if the offender refused to vote prior.


Voting population

Historically the size of eligible voters, the electorate, was small having the size of groups or communities of privileged men like aristocrats and men of a city (
citizens Citizenship is a "relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection". Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and ...
). With the growth of the number of people with
bourgeois The bourgeoisie ( , ) is a social class A social class is a grouping of people into a set of hierarchical social categories, the most common being the upper, middle and lower classes. Membership in a social class can for example be ...
citizen rights outside of cities, expanding the term citizen, the electorates grew to numbers beyond the thousands. Elections with an electorate in the hundred thousands appeared in the final decades of the
Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Res publica Romana ) was a form of government of Rome and the era of the classical Roman civilization when it was run through public representation of the Roman people. Beginning with the overthrow of the Roman K ...
, by extending voting rights to citizens outside of Rome with the Lex Julia of 90 BC, reaching an electorate of 910,000 and estimated voter turnout of maximum 10% in 70 BC,Vishnia 2012, p. 125 only again comparable in size to the first elections of the United States. At the same time the
Kingdom of Great Britain The Kingdom of Great Britain (officially Great Britain) was a sovereign country in Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right ...
had in 1780 about 214,000 eligible voters, 3% of the whole population.


Candidates

A
representative democracy Representative democracy, also known as indirect democracy, is a type of democracy where elected people represent a group of people, in contrast to direct democracy. Nearly all modern Western-style democracies function as some type of repres ...
requires a procedure to govern nomination for political office. In many cases, nomination for office is mediated through preselection processes in organized political parties. Non-partisan systems tend to be different from partisan systems as concerns nominations. In a
direct democracy Direct democracy or pure democracy is a form of democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to de ...
, one type of non-partisan democracy, any eligible person can be nominated. Although elections were used in ancient Athens, in Rome, and in the selection of popes and Holy Roman emperors, the origins of elections in the contemporary world lie in the gradual emergence of representative government in Europe and North America beginning in the 17th century. In some systems no nominations take place at all, with voters free to choose any person at the time of voting—with some possible exceptions such as through a minimum age requirement—in the jurisdiction. In such cases, it is not required (or even possible) that the members of the electorate be familiar with all of the eligible persons, though such systems may involve indirect elections at larger geographic levels to ensure that some first-hand familiarity among potential electees can exist at these levels (i.e., among the elected delegates). As far as partisan systems, in some countries, only members of a particular party can be nominated (see
one-party state A one-party state, single-party state, one-party system, or single-party system is a type of sovereign state A sovereign state or sovereign country, is a political entity represented by one central government that has supreme legitimate ...
). Or, any eligible person can be nominated through a process; thus allowing him or her to be listed.


Electoral systems

Electoral systems are the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems that convert the vote into a political decision. The first step is for voters to cast the ballots, which may be simple single-choice ballots, but other types, such as multiple choice or ranked ballots may also be used. Then the votes are tallied, for which various vote counting systems may be used. and the voting system then determines the result on the basis of the tally. Most systems can be categorized as either proportional, majoritarian or mixed. Among the proportional systems, the most commonly used are party-list proportional representation (list PR) systems, among majoritarian are
first-past-the-post In a first-past-the-post electoral system (FPTP or FPP), formally called single-member plurality voting (SMP) when used in single-member districts or informally choose-one voting in contrast to ranked voting, or score voting, voters cast the ...
electoral system (single winner
plurality voting Plurality voting refers to electoral systems in which a candidate, or candidates, who poll more than any other counterpart (that is, receive a plurality), are elected. In systems based on single-member districts, it elects just one member pe ...
) and different methods of majority voting (such as the widely used two-round system). Mixed systems combine elements of both proportional and majoritarian methods, with some typically producing results closer to the former ( mixed-member proportional) or the other (e.g. parallel voting). Many countries have growing electoral reform movements, which advocate systems such as approval voting, single transferable vote, instant runoff voting or a Condorcet method; these methods are also gaining popularity for lesser elections in some countries where more important elections still use more traditional counting methods. While openness and accountability are usually considered cornerstones of a democratic system, the act of casting a vote and the content of a voter's ballot are usually an important exception. The secret ballot is a relatively modern development, but it is now considered crucial in most free and fair elections, as it limits the effectiveness of intimidation.


Campaigns

When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns. Supporters for a campaign can be either formally organized or loosely affiliated, and frequently utilize campaign advertising. It is common for political scientists to attempt to predict elections via political forecasting methods. The most expensive election campaign included US$7 billion spent on the 2012 United States presidential election and is followed by the US$5 billion spent on the
2014 Indian general election General elections were held in India India, officially the Republic of India ( Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by area, the second-most populous country, and the most populous democracy in the ...
.


Election timing

The nature of democracy is that elected officials are accountable to the people, and they must return to the voters at prescribed intervals to seek their mandate to continue in office. For that reason, most democratic constitutions provide that elections are held at fixed regular intervals. In the United States, elections for public offices are typically held between every two and six years in most states and at the federal level, with exceptions for elected judicial positions that may have longer terms of office. There is a variety of schedules, for example, presidents: the
President of Ireland The president of Ireland ( ga, Uachtarán na hÉireann) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of ...
is elected every seven years, the
President of Russia The president of the Russian Federation ( rus, Президент Российской Федерации, Prezident Rossiyskoy Federatsii) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officiall ...
and the President of Finland every six years, the
President of France The president of France, officially the president of the French Republic (french: Président de la République française), is the executive head of state of France France (), officially the French Republic ( ), is a country prim ...
every five years,
President of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona who officially embodies a state Foakes, pp. 110–11 " he head of statebeing an embodiment of the State ...
every four years. Pre-decided or fixed election dates have the advantage of fairness and predictability. However, they tend to greatly lengthen campaigns, and make dissolving the legislature (parliamentary system) more problematic if the date should happen to fall at a time when dissolution is inconvenient (e.g. when war breaks out). Other states (e.g., the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
) only set maximum time in office, and the executive decides exactly when within that limit it will actually go to the polls. In practice, this means the government remains in power for close to its full term, and chooses an election date it calculates to be in its best interests (unless something special happens, such as a
motion of no-confidence A motion of no confidence, also variously called a vote of no confidence, no-confidence motion, motion of confidence, or vote of confidence, is a statement or vote about whether a person in a position of responsibility like in government or m ...
). This calculation depends on a number of variables, such as its performance in opinion polls and the size of its majority.


Non-democratic elections

In many of the countries with weak
rule of law The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the ''Encyclopedia Britannic ...
, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government.
Dictator A dictator is a political leader who possesses absolute power. A dictatorship A dictatorship is a form of government which is characterized by a leader, or a group of leaders, which holds governmental powers with few to no limitations on t ...
s may use the powers of the executive (police, martial law, censorship, physical implementation of the election mechanism, etc.) to remain in power despite popular opinion in favour of removal. Members of a particular faction in a legislature may use the power of the majority or supermajority (passing criminal laws, and defining the electoral mechanisms including eligibility and district boundaries) to prevent the balance of power in the body from shifting to a rival faction due to an election. Non-governmental entities can also interfere with elections, through physical force, verbal intimidation, or fraud, which can result in improper casting or counting of votes. Monitoring for and minimizing electoral fraud is also an ongoing task in countries with strong traditions of free and fair elections. Problems that prevent an election from being "free and fair" take various forms.


Lack of open political debate or an informed electorate

The electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates due to lack of
freedom of the press Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the fundamental principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exerc ...
, lack of objectivity in the press due to state or corporate control, and/or lack of access to news and political media.
Freedom of speech Freedom of speech is a principle that supports the freedom Freedom is understood as either having the ability to act or change without constraint or to possess the power and resources to fulfill one's purposes unhindered. Freedom is oft ...
may be curtailed by the state, favouring certain viewpoints or state
propaganda Propaganda is communication that is primarily used to Social influence, influence or persuade an audience to further an Political agenda, agenda, which may not be Objectivity (journalism), objective and may be selectively presenting facts to en ...
.


Unfair rules

Gerrymandering, exclusion of opposition candidates from eligibility for office, needlessly high restrictions on who may be a candidate, like ballot access rules, and manipulating thresholds for electoral success are some of the ways the structure of an election can be changed to favour a specific faction or candidate.


Interference with campaigns

Those in power may arrest or assassinate candidates, suppress or even criminalize campaigning, close campaign headquarters, harass or beat campaign workers, or intimidate voters with violence. Foreign electoral intervention can also occur, with the United States interfering between 1946 and 2000 in 81 elections and
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with its internationally recognised territory covering , and encompassing one-ei ...
/
USSR The Soviet Union,. officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. (USSR),. was a transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991. A flagship communist state, it was nominally a federal union of fifteen nati ...
in 36. In 2018 the most intense interventions, utilizing false information, were by
China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the world's most populous country, with a population exceeding 1.4 billion, slightly ahead of India India, officially the Republic of India ...
in
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia, at the junction of the East and South China Seas in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, with the People's Republic of China China, officially the People's R ...
and by
Russia Russia (, , ), or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It is the largest country in the world, with its internationally recognised territory covering , and encompassing one-ei ...
in
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of ...
; the next highest levels were in Bahrain, Qatar and Hungary.


Tampering with the election mechanism

This can include falsifying voter instructions, violation of the secret ballot, ballot stuffing, tampering with voting machines, destruction of legitimately cast ballots, voter suppression, voter registration fraud, failure to validate voter residency, fraudulent tabulation of results, and use of physical force or verbal intimation at polling places. Other examples include persuading candidates not to run, such as through blackmailing, bribery, intimidation or physical violence.


Sham election

A sham election, or show election, is an election that is held purely for show; that is, without any significant political choice or real impact on the results of the election. Sham elections are a common event in dictatorial regimes that feel the need to feign the appearance of public legitimacy. Published results usually show nearly 100% voter turnout and high support (typically at least 80%, and close to 100% in many cases) for the prescribed or for the
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct vote by the electorate on a proposal, law, or political issue. This is in contrast to an issue being voted on by a representative. This may result in the adoption o ...
choice that favours the
political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific ideological or ...
in power. Dictatorial regimes can also organize sham elections with results simulating those that might be achieved in democratic countries. Sometimes, only one government-approved candidate is allowed to run in sham elections with no opposition candidates allowed, or opposition candidates are arrested on false charges (or even without any charges) before the election to prevent them from running. Ballots may contain only one "yes" option, or in the case of a simple "yes or no" question, security forces often persecute people who pick "no", thus encouraging them to pick the "yes" option. In other cases, those who vote receive stamps in their passport for doing so, while those who did not vote (and thus do not receive stamps) are persecuted as enemies of the people. Sham elections can sometimes backfire against the party in power, especially if the regime believes they are popular enough to win without coercion or fraud. The most famous example of this was the 1990 Myanmar general election, in which the government-sponsored National Unity Party suffered a landslide defeat to the opposition National League for Democracy and consequently, the results were annulled. Examples of sham elections are the 1929 and 1934
elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population Population typically refers to the number of people in a single area, whether it be a city or town A town is a human settlement. Towns are general ...
in Fascist Italy, the 1942 general election in Imperial Japan, those in
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") (officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945) was ...
,
East Germany East Germany, officially the German Democratic Republic (GDR; german: Deutsche Demokratische Republik, , DDR, ), was a country that existed from its creation on 7 October 1949 until German reunification, its dissolution on 3 October 1990. In t ...
, the 1940 elections of Stalinist "People's Parliaments" to legitimise the Soviet occupation of
Estonia Estonia, formally the Republic of Estonia, is a country by the Baltic Sea The Baltic Sea is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's five oceans, with an area of about . It covers appro ...
,
Latvia Latvia ( or ; lv, Latvija ; ltg, Latveja; liv, Leţmō), officially the Republic of Latvia ( lv, Latvijas Republika, links=no, ltg, Latvejas Republika, links=no, liv, Leţmō Vabāmō, links=no), is a country in the Baltic region of ...
and
Lithuania Lithuania (; lt, Lietuva ), officially the Republic of Lithuania ( lt, Lietuvos Respublika, links=no ), is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. It is one of three Baltic states and lies on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania ...
, the 1928,
1935 Events January * January 7 – Italian premier Benito Mussolini Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (; 29 July 188328 April 1945) was an Italian politician and journalist A journalist is an individual that collects/gathers in ...
,
1942 Events Below, the events of World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the vast majority of the world's countries—inclu ...
, 1949,
1951 Events January * January 4 – Korean War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Korean War , partof = the Cold War The Cold War is a term commonly used to refer to a period of Geopolitics, geopolitica ...
and 1958 elections in Portugal, the 1991 Kazakh presidential election, those in
North Korea North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country A country is a distinct part of the world, such as a state, nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis of a combination ...
, the
1995 File:1995 Events Collage V2.png, From left, clockwise: O.J. Simpson is acquitted of the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman from the year prior in "The Trial of the Century" in the United States The United States of Amer ...
and 2002 presidential referendums in Saddam Hussein's Iraq and the 2021 Hong Kong legislative election. In
Mexico Mexico ( Spanish: México), officially the United Mexican States, is a country in the southern portion of North America North America is a continent in the Northern Hemisphere and almost entirely within the Western Hemisphere ...
, all of the presidential elections from 1929 to
1982 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is also known as New Year's Day since the ...
are considered to be sham elections, as the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and its predecessors governed the country in a ''de facto'' single-party system without serious opposition, and they won all of the presidential elections in that period with more than 70% of the vote. The first seriously competitive presidential election in modern Mexican history was that of 1988, in which for the first time the PRI candidate faced two strong opposition candidates, though the government still rigged the result. The first fair election was held in 1994, though the opposition did not win until 2000. A predetermined conclusion is permanently established by the regime through suppression of the opposition, coercion of voters, vote rigging, reporting several votes received greater than the number of voters, outright lying, or some combination of these. In an extreme example, Charles D. B. King of
Liberia Liberia (), officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country on the West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of Africa. The United Nations geoscheme for Africa#Western Africa, United Nations defines Western A ...
was reported to have won by 234,000 votes in the 1927 general election, a "majority" that was over fifteen times larger than the number of eligible voters.


Elections as aristocratic

Scholars argue that the predominance of elections in modern liberal democracies masks the fact that they are actually aristocratic selection mechanisms that deny each citizen an equal chance of holding public office. Such views were expressed as early as the time of
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages The term Greek Dark Ages refers to the period of Greek history from the end of the Mycenaean palatial civiliz ...
by
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath during the Classical period in Ancient Greece. Taught by Plato, he was the founder of the Peripatetic school of ...
. According to French
political scientist Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured ...
Bernard Manin, the inegalitarian nature of elections stems from four factors: the unequal treatment of candidates by voters, the distinction of candidates required by choice, the cognitive advantage conferred by salience, and the costs of disseminating information. These four factors result in the evaluation of candidates based on voters' partial standards of quality and social saliency (for example, skin color and good looks). This leads to self-selection biases in candidate pools due to unobjective standards of treatment by voters and the costs (barriers to entry) associated with raising one's political profile. Ultimately, the result is the election of candidates who are superior (whether in actuality or as perceived within a cultural context) and ''objectively unlike'' the voters they are supposed to represent. Additionally, evidence suggests that the concept of electing representatives was originally conceived to be ''different'' from
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
. Prior to the 18th century, some societies in
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a large peninsula conventionally considered a continent in its own right because of its great physical size and the weight of its history and traditions. Europe is also considered ...
used
sortition In governance Governance is the process of interactions through the laws, norms, power or language Language is a structured system of communication. The structure of a language is its grammar and the free components are its vo ...
as a means to select rulers, a method which allowed regular citizens to exercise power, in keeping with understandings of democracy at the time. However, the idea of what constituted a legitimate government shifted in the 18th century to include
consent Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent as und ...
, especially with the rise of the enlightenment. From this point onwards, sortition fell out of favor as a mechanism for selecting rulers. On the other hand, elections began to be seen as a way for the masses to express popular consent repeatedly, resulting in the triumph of the electoral process until the present day. This conceptual misunderstanding of elections as open and egalitarian when they are not innately so may thus be a root cause of the problems in contemporary governance. Those in favor of this view argue that the modern system of elections was never meant to give ordinary citizens the chance to exercise power - merely privileging their right to consent to those who rule. Therefore, the representatives that modern electoral systems select for are too disconnected, unresponsive, and elite-serving. To deal with this issue, various scholars have proposed alternative models of democracy, many of which include a return to sortition-based selection mechanisms. The extent to which sortition should be the dominant mode of selecting rulers or instead be hybridised with electoral representation remains a topic of debate.


See also

* Ballot access * Concession (politics) * Demarchy—"democracy without elections" * Electoral calendar * Electoral integrity *
Electoral system An electoral system or voting system is a set of rules that determine how elections and referendums are conducted and how their results are determined. Electoral systems are used in politics to elect governments, while non-political elections m ...
* Election law * Election litter * Elections by country * Electronic voting * Fenno's paradox * Full slate * Garrat Elections * Gerontocracy * Issue voting * Landslide election * Meritocracy * Multi-party system * Nomination rules * Party system * Pluralism (political philosophy) * Political polarization *
Political science Political science is the scientific study of politics. It is a social science dealing with systems of governance and power, and the analysis of political activities, political thought, political behavior, and associated constitutions a ...
*
Polling station A polling place is where vote Voting is a method by which a group, such as a meeting or an electorate, can engage for the purpose of making a collective decision or expressing an opinion usually following discussions, debates or elect ...
*
Proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...
* Re-election *
Slate Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock Sedimentary rocks are types of rock that are formed by the accumulation or deposition of mineral or organic particle ...
* Stunning elections *
Two-party system A two-party system is a political party system in which two major political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a p ...
* Voter turnout * Voting system


References


Bibliography

* Arrow, Kenneth J. 1963. ''Social Choice and Individual Values''. 2nd ed. New Haven, CT:
Yale University Press Yale University Press is the university press of Yale University Yale University is a private research university in New Haven, Connecticut New Haven is a city in the U.S. state of Connecticut Connecticut () is the southern ...
. * Benoit, Jean-Pierre and Lewis A. Kornhauser. 1994. "Social Choice in a Representative Democracy". ''American Political Science Review'' 88.1: 185–192. * Corrado Maria, Daclon. 2004. ''US Elections and War On Terrorism – Interview With Professor Massimo Teodori'' Analisi Difesa, n. 50 * Farquharson, Robin. 1969. ''A Theory of Voting''. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. * Mueller, Dennis C. 1996. ''Constitutional Democracy''. Oxford:
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press of the University of Oxford The University of Oxford is a collegiate research university in Oxford, England. There is evidence of teaching as early as 1096, making it the oldest unive ...
. * Owen, Bernard, 2002. "Le système électoral et son effet sur la représentation parlementaire des partis: le cas européen", LGDJ; * Riker, William. 1980. ''Liberalism Against Populism: A Confrontation Between the Theory of Democracy and the Theory of Social Choice''. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press. * Thompson, Dennis F. 2004. ''Just Elections: Creating a Fair Electoral Process in the U.S.'' Chicago:
University of Chicago Press The University of Chicago Press is the largest and one of the oldest university presses in the United States. It is operated by the University of Chicago The University of Chicago (UChicago, Chicago, U of C, or UChi) is a private university ...
. * Ware, Alan. 1987. ''Citizens, Parties and the State''. Princeton:
Princeton University Press Princeton University Press is an independent publisher with close connections to Princeton University. Its mission is to disseminate scholarship within academia and society at large. The press was founded by Whitney Darrow, with the financia ...
.


External links


PARLINE database on national parliaments. Results for all parliamentary elections since 1966

"Psephos", archive of recent electoral data from 182 countriesElectionGuide.org — Worldwide Coverage of National-level Electionsparties-and-elections.de: Database for all European elections since 1945ACE Electoral Knowledge Network
— electoral encyclopedia and related resources from a consortium of electoral agencies and organizations.
Angus Reid Global Monitor: Election TrackerIDEA's Table of Electoral Systems WorldwideEuropean Election Law Association (Eurela)List of Local Elected Offices in the United States

Caltech/ MIT Voting Technology Project
{{Authority control Comparative politics Politics