Define the three factors (political, sociological and institutional) which affect Australian Elections?

Essay by KentHigh School, 11th gradeA-, August 2004

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Institutional factors:

Institutional factors relate to the type of the electoral system used in an election. Institutional factors that can influence the election include compulsory voting, the type of ballot, gerrymanders and malapportionment.

Compulsory voting ensures 95 per cent of Western Australians participate in elections. However, it has been echoed by some academics that compulsory voting favors major parties. This is due to few people doing their own research into political parties and voting for parties they recognize through the media.

The type of ballot used in an election has the most influence on the outcome. In a preferential ballot a seat has to be won by an absolute majority. Which gives an advantage to major political parties. However, in proportional voting a candidate has to get a derived quota to be elected. This means that a small party or independent can get elected with as little as 20% of the vote.

Gerrymanders are also another major factor that can influence an election. Gerrymanders allow governments to redistribute electoral boundaries. Governments are then able to win more seats by reducing vote wastage in safe seats and shifting the wasted votes into marginal seats therefore giving them a better chance to win the marginal seats. This tends to favor the government because they have majority support to change electoral boundaries.

Malapportionment is another institutional factor which may affect the election outcome. Malapportionment is a calculation used to even out an uneven distribution of population. This is done by increasing the power of votes in smaller districts. The problem with malapportionment is that it tends to favor the party or independent who exploits the weakness in the electoral system.

Sociological factors:

Sociological factors relate to the values and attitudes voters believe in. When voters are attracted to a particular party this is...