Second-Order Election

The conceptual framework concerning second-order elections was developed by Karlheinz Reif and Herman Schmitt in the article “Nine Second-Order National Elections” (1980). In one of the first systematic studies of direct elections to the European Parliament, Reif and Schmitt draw an important distinction between two categories of elections: (1) First-order elections offer voters the critical choice of who should govern the country. This includes elections in parliamentary systems such as Great Britain, Sweden, and Germany and presidential elections in countries such as the United States, Venezuela, and the Philippines. (2) Second-order elections, in contrast, are less important since they determine the outcome for lesser offices, such as regional, municipal, and local officials in parliamentary systems and legislative representatives in presidential systems.

Based on this distinction Reif ...

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