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Democratic Electoral Systems Database

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Democratic Electoral Systems Database

Summary: The Democratic Electoral Systems (DES) includes data about the electoral institutions used in all of the democratic legislative and presidential elections in 199 countries between 1946 (or independence) and 2000.

Main Points: The DES is collected by Matt Golder (2005) and is available through his paper "Democratic electoral Systems Around the World, 1946-2000."

The worldwide focus of the dataset reveals several striking patterns. For example, there have been almost as many elections under dictatorship as there have been under democracy. Other patterns include the fact that presidential regimes nearly always employ proportional electoral formulas, absolute majority rule has become the worldwide norm for electing presidents, majoritarian electoral systems account for the same percentage of legislative elections as they did in the 1950s, and non-majoritarian systems have become more complex due to the increasing use of multiple tiers and mixed electoral formulas.

Another Nils-Christian Bormann & Matt Golder (2013) research note describes an update to Golder's (2005) DES dataset. They extended the temporal scope of the original dataset by including all legislative and presidential elections that took place in democratic states from 2001 through 2011. In addition to significantly expanding the size of the DES dataset, they offer a simplified classification scheme for electoral systems. The authors also provide more detailed information about all democratic elections since 1946, including the dates for each round of elections as well as the rules used in different electoral tiers. A brief temporal and geographic overview of the data is presented.

The data focus on national-level (lower house) legislative and presidential elections in democratic regimes. A regime is classified as a democracy at the time of an election if:

(i)               the chief executive is elected,

(ii)              the legislature is elected,

(iii)            there is more than one party competing in elections

(iv)            an alternation under identical electoral rules has taken place.

The data covers following classification of legislative electoral systems:

·        Majoritarian (Plurality, Absolute Majority)

·        Proportional (List PR, Single Transferable Vote)

·        Mixed (Independent, Dependent)

Access to database:


Matt Golder. 2005. "Democratic electoral Systems Around the World, 1946-2000." Electoral Studies 24: 103-121.

Nils-Christian Bormann & Matt Golder. 2013. "Democratic electoral Systems Around the World, 1946-2011." Electoral Studies. [replication materials]

Page Created By:  Madina Junussova. The content presented on this page is drawn directly from the source(s) cited above, and consists of direct quotations or close paraphrases. This material does not necessarily reflect the official view of the publishing organization.

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School of Public Policy and Governance