Date of Award
Josef Korbel School of International Studies
This research project examines the role of electoral system rules in affecting the extent of conciliatory behavior and cross-ethnic coalition making in Northern Ireland. It focuses on the role of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) electoral system in shaping party and voter incentives in a post-conflict divided society. The research uses a structured, focused comparison of the four electoral cycles since the Belfast Agreement of 1998. This enables a systematic examination of each electoral cycle using a common set of criteria focused on conciliation and cross-ethnic coalition making. Whilst preference voting is assumed to benefit moderate candidates, in Northern Ireland centrist and multi-ethnic parties outside of the dominant ethnic communities have received little electoral success. In Northern Ireland the primary effect of STV has not been to encourage inter-communal voting but to facilitate intra-community and intra-party moderation. STV has encouraged the moderation of the historically extreme political parties in each of the ethnic bloc. Patterns across electoral cycles suggest that party elites from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein have moderated their policy positions due to the electoral system rules. Therefore they have pursued lower-preference votes from within their ethnic bloc but in doing so have marginalized parties of a multi-ethnic or non-ethnic orientation.
Forster, Callum, "Electoral Systems and Ethnic Conciliation: A Structured, Focused Analysis of Vote-Pooling in Northern Ireland Elections 1998-2011" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 972.
Recieved from ProQuest