UCL Department of Economics


Gorman Lectures 2016

"What is the Best Election Method?"

by Eric Maskin (Harvard)

Eric Maskin

Tuesday 16th Feb, 5:30pm-7pm (Part I)

Wednesday 17th Feb, 5:30-7pm (Part II)

Sir Ambrose Fleming LT and Foyer, Roberts Building, UCL

Part I: How Should Members of Parliament (and Congress) be Elected?

Candidates for  the British Parliament and the U.S. Congress are elected according to plurality rule (first-past-the-post). I will argue that this election method is seriously flawed. A better method is “true majority rule” (the Condorcet Method), according to which a candidate wins if she would beat all other candidates in a head-to-head contest. Indeed, there is a sense in which true majority rule dominates all others.

Part II: Elections and Strategic Voting

Strategic voting consists of voting for candidate A even though you prefer candidate B. Election methods that are vulnerable to strategic voting produce distorted outcomes and impose heavy extra costs on voters. No method is entirely strategy proof, but I will argue that the election rules proposed by two rival 18th century scientists---Condorcet and Borda---come closest.