Category: Season 3 Elections

In this episode, I’m talking with Antony Green about the Australian electoral system and Vote Compass, a tool which allows voters to explore how their views align with the major parties.

Antony is an Australian psephologist and commentator. He is the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s election analyst. As well as being an Adjunct Professor University of Sydney in the School of Social and Political Sciences.

I spoke with Antony about how he came to be Australia’s best-known election analyst – he said he was in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills.

He identified three institutions which define Australian politics:

  1. Compulsory voting
  2. Preferential voting
  3. Bi-cameral Houses of Parliament

And highlighted a couple of institutional challenges in Australia

  • The power of our Senate undermines the mandate given to the House of Representatives to implement the policies they took to the election
  • Strict rules around what counts as a validly completed ballot paper results in around one-third to a half of all votes being considered informal.

I also asked Antony what he thought of the idea of a Citizens’ Senate. He noted that it would be difficult in practice due to the need to amend the Australian Constitution and that there would be many questions to be answered about how it might work in practice.

Anthony has been involved in the development of Vote Compass here in Australia and I asked him about the benefits and limitations of the tool.

My interview with Antony was recorded some time ago and we are currently in the midst of a Federal Election here in Australia. As Antony suggested in his comments on Vote Compass, it has been extended to include the ultra-conservative party One Nation. It will be interesting to see the impact of a party to the right of the Liberal/Nationals on where people’s policy preferences align.

If you would like to see how your policy preferences align with four of the political parties contesting the upcoming 2019 Federal Election visit the ABC’s Vote Compass.

Check out this episode!

In this episode, I’m talking with Dr Camille Bedock about her book Reforming Democracy: Institutional engineering in Western Europe, 1990 – 2010 and also about her more recent research with Sophie Panel on citizen conceptions of how democratic their democracy is and with Nicolas Sauger on how electoral systems with majority bonuses affect electoral competition.
Camille’s book is based on her thesis and looks at electoral and other reforms in Italy and France [1.35] with a focus on the determinants and processes of institutional reform. 
For her research, Camille focused on formal institutions [3.50] which regulate the functioning of democracy. In particular, she looked at bundles of reforms [5.25] building on Lijphart’s work in Patterns of Democracy, finding that often institutional components ‘move together.’ She proves examples of such bundles of reforms [8.05] such as changes to the length of the Presidential term and the electoral calendar term in France. Her research concludes that bundles of reforms are the norm rather than the exception.
Camille identifies three key findings of her research [10.15]
  1. Institutional reforms are not exceptional or rare
  2. Political elites make reforms in reaction to events rather than in a proactive way
  3. To understand change and stability we need to look at the processes of reform which are either consensual or conflictual.
In considering democratic legitimacy and trust [13.45] Camille notes that whilst lack of legitimacy can lead to institutional reforms there is little evidence available about whether institutional reforms can restore legitimacy and trust. And she points out that legitimacy and trust may depend on an individual’s views on how democracy should operate. Her recent research with Sophie Panel [16.15] on the views of French people on how democratic their democracy is, suggests that people who hold minimalist views on democracy have a higher regard for their democracy as do people who voted for the party which won the last election.
Finally, Camille in conjunction with Nicolas Sauger [18.55] has looked at the impact of majority bonus systems on electoral competition and representative outcomes.

Check out this episode!


In this episode, I am speaking with Professor Pippa Norris about her work on electoral integrity.


Pippa Norris, is the Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, ARC Laureate Fellow and Professor of Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and Director of the Electoral Integrity Project.


Pippa has published almost fifty books. Most recently these books focus on electoral integrity. with Electoral Integrity (2017 Cambridge), Election Watchdogs (ed. 2017 Oxford), Why American Elections are Flawed (2017 Cornell), Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit and Authoritarian-Populism (2018 Cambridge, with Ronald Inglehart) and Electoral Integrity in America (ed. 2018 Oxford University Press).


Pippa talks about
  • key features of electoral integrity
  • factors which support or hinder electoral integrity
  • why the United States is at the bottom of the ‘scoreboard’ amongst Western democracies in regard to electoral integrity and
  • how different electoral systems impact on the representation of minorities and women.


Check out this episode!

Welcome to episode four of season three of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. This episode is also the 43rd episode of the podcast and the first one since the first birthday of the podcast last week. To help celebrate the podcast’s birthday I’d appreciate it if you could share either your favourite episode of the podcast or the podcast generally with someone you think would find it interesting.
Today’s episode is about electoral reform with Dr Alan Renwick, Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit at UCL in London. Alan’s expertise lies mainly in the areas of electoral systems, referendums, and other modes of engaging the public in decision-making processes, such as citizens’ assemblies. His research is comparative: besides the UK, his recent projects have included all European democracies as well as New Zealand, Japan, and Canada. In addition to numerous journal articles, chapters and reports he is the author of two books about electoral reform: A Citizens’ Guide to Electoral Reform and The Politics of Electoral Reform: Changing the Rules of Democracy.
Thanks for joining me today. In the next episode I’ll be talking with Professor Pippa Norris about electoral integrity.
I am currently putting together interviews about electoral systems around the world and so far I’ve interviewed people about India, South and Southern Africa, Australia, Asia and the South Pacific and New Zealand.
I would also like to interview someone about electoral systems in Latin America but have not been successful in finding the right person to do this. If you know someone who you could fill this gap please introduce them to me via email at

Check out this episode!

Welcome to episode 3 in Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is about elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. In this episode I’m speaking with Professor John Gastil. John is a Professor in the Communication Arts and Sciences and Political Science at the Pennsylvania State University as well as a Senior Scholar in the McCourtney Institute for Democracy. He studies political deliberation and group decision making across a range of contexts.
Recently John and Erik Olin Wright, as part of the Real Utopias project, held a three-day workshop called Legislature by Lot. Thanks to David Schecter I was able to interview John shortly after this workshop to learn more about what was discussed. Here is a copy of the agenda for the workshop which includes the attendees.
John described this workshop as ‘a deliberation about deliberation’.
John spoke about
  • the origins of the Legislature by Lot workshop [1:32]
  • the different ways to implement sortition (random selection) [3:54]
  • some of the arguments in favour of a legislature selected by lot [5:44]
  • different models of sortition [7:40]
  • responding to criticisms of legislature by lot [10:11]
  • how to design an oversight body to support a legislature selected by lot [14:10]
  • the prospect of institutional change and transition strategies [18:34]
  • moving the agenda of using sortition forward [23:43]
  • how much work is happening around the world to test and promote the use of sortition [28:35]
  • what representation and accountability means for bodies selected by sortition [30:29]
  • deliberation, consensus, contention and voting [34:35 and 38:50]
  • what the workshop agreed on [43:18]
  • what might happen after the workshop: building links between researchers and practitioners [45:34]
  • responses to critiques of empowered mini-publics [49:35]
  • when the book arising from the workshop will be published [53:07]
John mentioned the work of the Sortition Foundation, the newDemocracy Foundation to promote the use of sortition.
Thank you for joining me today. In the next episode I will be speaking to Dr Alan Renwick about electoral reform around the world [54:11].
I hope you’ll join me then.

Check out this episode!

Provisional Schedule of Sessions

All sessions are in the Pyle Center, Room 225

The schedule shows the names of presenters attending the conference, not all the listed authors.


Friday, September 15
9:00 – 9:30 Greeting & continental breakfast
  Alternative Approaches
9:30-10:20 Graham Smith, “The circumstances of sortition”
10:30-11:20 Andrea Fellicetti, “A bottom-up perspective on sortition as a means of democratization”
11:30-12:20 Jim Fishkin, “Random assemblies for law-making? Prospects and limits”
12:30 – 1:45 LUNCH
  Contexts and Considerations for Implementation
1:45-2:35 Arash Abizadeh, “Representation, bicameralism, and sortition: reconstituting the senate as a randomly selected Citizen Assembly”
2:45-3:35 Raphaël Kies, “A prudential path towards EU sortition and legitimacy”
3:45-4:35 Vincent Jacquet, Christoph Niessen, & Pierre-Etienne Vandamme, “Complementary virtues and competing legitimacies: Inter-chamber relationships in a bicameral elected and sortitioned legislature”
4:45-5:35 Lyn Carson [via Skype], “How to ensure that a randomly-selected legislative chamber functions successfully”
7:00 Dinner at Ichiban, 610 S Park St.

Saturday, September 16

9:00-9:30 Coffee, continental breakfast
  The Larger Democratic Reform Agenda
9:30-10:20 Ned Crosby, “Legislatures by lot in the context of major democratic reforms”
10:30-11:20 Yves Sintomer, “From deliberative to radical democracy? Sortition and politics in the 21th century”
11:30-12:20 Tom Malleson, “Radical democracy and the proposal for a legislature by lot”
12:30-1:45 LUNCH
  Design Considerations
1:45-2:35 Tom Arnold, “Lessons from the Irish Constitutional Convention, 2012-14”
2:45-3:35 Dimitri Courant, “Thinking sortition: Modes of selection, deliberative frameworks and democratic principles”
3:45-4:35 David Schecter, “How to design a sortition legislature?”
7:00 Dinner, Erik Wright’s house, 1101 Grant Street

(cont on next page)

Sunday, September 17

9:00-9:30 Coffee, continental breakfast
  Moving Beyond Electoral Accountability
9:30-10:20 Brett Hennig, “On democratic representation and accountability”
10:30-11:20 Terrill Bouricius, “Why hybrid bicameralism is not right for sortition”
11:30-12:20 Campbell Wallace, “A ‘pure sortition’ proposal for democracy without elections”
12:30 – 1:45 LUNCH (perhaps sandwiches in the room?)
1:45-3:00 Open discussion and wrap-up












Andrea Felicetti

Arash Abizadeh

Brett Hennig

Campbell Wallace

Christoph Niessen

David Schecter

Dimitri Courant

Erik Olin Wright

Graham Smith

Jim Fishkin

John Pitseys

Lyn Carson (“Carson”)

Ned Crosby

Pierre-Etienne Vandamme

Raphaël Kies

Terrill Bouricius

Tom Arnold

Tom Malleson

Vincent Jacquet

Yves Sintomer


Attending but not writing a paper

Archon Fung

Jane Mansbridge

Welcome to episode 2 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 is looking at elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives.
In today’s episode, I’m talking with Professor Arend Lijphart about his work identifying two main categories of democracies which relate in part to their electoral systems.
Arend is a Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of California. His field of specialisation is comparative politics. He is the author or editor of more than a dozen books, with the two editions of his Patterns of Democracy from 1984 and 2012 being perhaps his most well-known and the subject of our conversation today.
I spoke with Professor Lijphart about
How he came to devote his life to the detailed empirical analysis of democracy in multiple countries around the world [1.10]
The relationship between his empirical work and his theory around patterns of democracy [5.30]
The variables he uses to demonstrate that consensual democracies outperform majoritarian democracies [18:35 ]
Criticisms that his approach does not apply to developing non-Western democracies [28.10]
In the next episode I’ll be talking to Professor John Gastil, a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences at Penn State College of Liberal Arts, about a workshop he recently co-hosted with Erik Olin Wright, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, titled Legislature by Lot [32.37]
I hope you’ll join me then.

Check out this episode!

Thank you for joining me in episode 1 of Season 3 of Real Democracy Now! a podcast. Season 3 of the podcast is looking at Elections, electoral systems, electoral reform and alternatives. As you can imagine this is a huge area to cover and I would like to thank Anika Gauja from the University of Sydney who helped me develop a broad structure for this Season.
I’m going to start looking at a few areas at a high level before moving into more detail in areas such as electoral systems around the world, negative campaigning and populism, compulsory vs voluntary voting, the various institutions and actors involved and alternatives to elections, where I’ll look at sortition and digital democracy.
In today’s episode, I’m talking to Professor David Farrell. David is a Professor of Politics in the School of Politics and International Relations at the University College Dublin. He is a specialist in the study of parties, elections, electoral systems and members of parliament. His current research focuses on the role of deliberation in constitutional reform processes.
I asked David
How would you define the term ‘electoral system’? [1:45]

How do you approach comparing so many different approaches to electoral systems around the world? [4:20]
How do you characterise different families of electoral systems? [5.00]
Could you provide an overview of the key elements of different electoral systems? [6:00]
How can everyday people evaluate the different options? [15:05]
Are there electoral reforms that warrant serious consideration that are still only theoretical i.e. they haven’t been used anywhere? [20:25]
 What do you think about the idea of using sortition to select a house of review? [22:15]
If you were asked to re-design the Irish electoral system what would it look like? [25:25]

Thank you for joining me today. In next week’s episode I’ll be talking to Emeritus Professor Arend Lijphart about his lifetime’s work. [29:40]
I hope you’ll join me then.

Check out this episode!

Scroll to top