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date: 27 July 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Australia is often characterized as “a democratic laboratory,” where a wide variety of electoral systems have been designed and implemented. Australia gave the world “the Australian ballot” (or secret ballot), and it is one of the few countries to operate an enforced system of compulsory voting. This chapter examines the evolution of the electoral systems in the lower House of Representatives and in the upper house, the Senate. Particular attention is given to the design of the Senate electoral system, and to the changes that were implemented at the 2016 election to eliminate the proliferation of “micro parties.” The development of compulsory voting is also outlined, and its consequences for the party system evaluated. Finally, the chapter discusses the major challenges to reform of the electoral system.

Keywords: Australia, electoral systems, compulsory voting, preferential voting, proportional representation, Senate, House of Representatives, party systems

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