Prof. Christoph Vanberg, Ph.D.Expert Opinion on Election Procedures

The constitutional committee of the Parliament of Thuringia invited Christoph Vanberg to write an opinion on a proposed change to the rules used to elect the state’s prime minister. The existing rules involve up to three rounds of voting. The first two rounds involve absolute majority rule, i.e. a candidate is elected if he or she receives more than half of the votes. The third round (reached only if no candidate wins in round 1 or 2) involves plurality rule, i.e. the candidate who receives “the most votes” wins – even if he or she receives less than half of the votes cast. The proposed change concerned the special case that only one candidate runs in the third round. According to the proposal, such a candidate would have to receive a greater number of “yes” votes than “no” votes to be elected. Vanberg argues against the proposal on the grounds that it is inconsistent with the use of plurality rule in the third round, and that it creates incentives for candidates to strategically drop out in order to prevent another candidate from being elected