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Do Most Countries Elect Their Government Leader by Majority Rule?

Summary:
Prime Minister Scheer? Co-blogger Scott Sumner, over at his own blog, themoneyillusion, writes: Other countries generally elect their president by majority vote (although a few “ceremonial” presidents are picked by an EC, as in India). He might be correct if he literally means “president.” But Scott seems to be comparing the United States electoral college to how the rest of the democratic world elects its governments’ main leaders, whether they’re called President, Prime Minister, or something else. The other governments I know best–Canada, where I grew up, eh?, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand–don’t elect their Prime Minister by majority vote. They have a Parliamentary system and the party with the most seats gets to form the government. In a

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Do Most Countries Elect Their Government Leader by Majority Rule?

Prime Minister Scheer?

Co-blogger Scott Sumner, over at his own blog, themoneyillusion, writes:

Other countries generally elect their president by majority vote (although a few “ceremonial” presidents are picked by an EC, as in India).

He might be correct if he literally means “president.” But Scott seems to be comparing the United States electoral college to how the rest of the democratic world elects its governments’ main leaders, whether they’re called President, Prime Minister, or something else.

The other governments I know best–Canada, where I grew up, eh?, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand–don’t elect their Prime Minister by majority vote. They have a Parliamentary system and the party with the most seats gets to form the government. In a way, that’s like the Electoral College.

Indeed, although in Canada’s 2019 national election no party won a majority of the vote, the party that won the plurality was the Conservative Party. Scheer’s Conservative Party won 34.34 percent of the vote and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 33.12 percent. If it had been the party with the most votes that determines the Prime Minister, we would be referring to Prime Minister Andrew Scheer.

David Henderson
David Henderson is a British economist. He was the Head of the Economics and Statistics Department at the OECD in 1984–1992. Before that he worked as an academic economist in Britain, first at Oxford (Fellow of Lincoln College) and later at University College London (Professor of Economics, 1975–1983); as a British civil servant (first as an Economic Advisor in HM Treasury, and later as Chief Economist in the Ministry of Aviation); and as a staff member of the World Bank (1969–1975). In 1985 he gave the BBC Reith Lectures, which were published in the book Innocence and Design: The Influence of Economic Ideas on Policy (Blackwell, 1986).

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