Different uses for voting
need different types of voting.
Statistics by Country
This table shows how much voting rules impact some measures of democracy in 34 countries. A newer page shows the top 20 countries, and it lets you sort national voter-turnout statistics by voting rule, election of women and policy results.
Column 2 tells the Voting Rule that elects the country's lower house.
The Turnout of Voters is a measure of their motivation to participate. The best voting rules tend to increase voter turnout. They create fewer “wasted votes” and so give people more reason to go vote.
Women Elected shows the share of legislative seats won by women.
Notes: IRV= single-seat districts using Instant Runoff Voting.
Australia is an unusual case. Its lower house has the highest percentage of women for any SWD legislature, 24.7% in the August 2010 election. It uses the Single Transferable Vote for one winner which Australians call “Alternative Vote” and Americans call “Instant Runoff”. As those names imply it A) lets a voter rank many candidates and B) combines the primary and general elections so there are often more than two important candidates; this encourages voter participation; turnout is about 90%. (Voting, like taxes and jury duty, is compulsory for Australian citizens.)
Australia’s upper chamber is elected by multi-winner STV. Each province returns six senators. This filled 32.9% of the seats with women after the October 1998 election. The women's share of seats might be even higher if there were more than six seats in each district but A) 33% compares well with other countries and voting rules and B) more seats lead to more candidates which lead to longer, more difficult ballots for voters.
Ireland also uses multi-winner STV, but most districts elect only 3 or 4 reps.
Variables other than voting rules may influence voter turnout and election of women:
The newer constitutions are more likely to use PR.
But the age of the democracy does not correlate with accurate democracy because the oldest democracies (UK, USA) have not modernized and the newest democracies have not yet stabilized.
Language and culture, particularly religion and the education of women, strongly affect the election of women and resulting policies.
Latitude and climate: The accuracy of democracy correlates with distance from the Equator. This tends to be true even within a cultural region such as Western Europe or within one country. There are exceptions such as Costa Rica. And latitude can not explain why PR is three times more likely than plurality to elect women within a single country such as Germany or New Zealand, as the statistics above show.
Sources: FairVote the Center for Voting and Democracy, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
A new page shows the top 20 countries to let you sort recent voter-turnout by country, election of women and policy results.