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Electoral Reform: What Do Political Scientists Know That Practitioners Do Not? Lessons from the UK Referendum of 2011

Renwick, A; (2017) Electoral Reform: What Do Political Scientists Know That Practitioners Do Not? Lessons from the UK Referendum of 2011. Election Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy , 16 (3) pp. 341-348. 10.1089/elj.2017.0441. Green open access

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Abstract

Political scientists might hope to offer practitioners involved in debates about electoral reform insights regarding either the process of reform or its potential effects. In respect of each of these, the practitioners whom we engage might by either elite decision-makers or the activists, journalists, and regular citizens who constitute the bedrock of democracy. The UK’s electoral reform referendum of 2011 offers a good opportunity to explore the degree to which political scientists in fact offer original insights in these various areas. The paper argues that, despite the great efforts that political scientists have expended in refining ever more sophisticated models of electoral system effects, elite practitioners have often – though not always – got there before us. By contrast, at least in the UK, practitioners sometimes fall short of political scientists in their understanding of how reform processes might unfold, and there is also a clear and strong need for political scientists to assist in educating public opinion. These findings have implications for how we should think about political science research: the research that practitioners most value is often not the research that has the highest prestige within the discipline.

Type: Article
Title: Electoral Reform: What Do Political Scientists Know That Practitioners Do Not? Lessons from the UK Referendum of 2011
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1089/elj.2017.0441
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1089/elj.2017.0441
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: alternative vote; electoral reform; political science; referendum; research impact; United Kingdom
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1561655
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