Explain the electoral system in detail. If the country uses PR, for example, be sure to describe the exact type and any legal threshold to enter into the legislature. How many electoral districts does the country have? What is the total number of legislators? How many are elected from each constituency? How difficult is it for relatively small parties to win seats? A table or map may be useful.
For PR systems, is the system an open one in which voters can cast a preference vote for individual candidates as well as a party list? Or is the system closed and voters have no say in the order of the list? If an open system, are voters able to influence greatly which candidates win? Or do preference votes have little impact even if voters may cast them? (Discuss only briefly unless important.)
If the country has more than one chamber in its legislature, are both elected or selected by the same method? If by different means, what is the political impact, if any, of the two different systems? If one chamber is not elected directly by the people, who chooses its members? If elected, are the same electoral constituencies used for both chambers?
Head of Government
Does the country have a presidential or parliamentary system? If the head of government is the president, describe how the president is elected. If a parliamentary system, explain how the prime minister, or the equivalent, is nominated by the parties and then elected by the legislature. If the country has a president as well as a prime minister, figure out who is the real head of government. If the president is a symbolic figure with little real power, focus on the prime minister rather than the president.
What is the impact of the electoral system on the party system? Does the system make it harder for some parties than others to gain traction? Does the system have more or less of an impact than you might expect?
Are individual legislators more responsive to political parties and party leaders or to their constituency? What incentives in the country’s electoral system shape this behavior (e.g., open lists and preference votes versus closed organized by party leaders)?
Changing the System
Countries sometimes change electoral systems. New Zealand, for example, voted to change from a single-member plurality to mixed-member proportional system in 1993. If your country uses the single-member plurality system to elect the legislature, how would a shift to a more proportional system change the outcome? Describe a specific alternative system and speculate intelligently and with detail on how the party system and politics might change.
(Note: If the country utilizes a system other than single-member plurality for the legislature, you do not need to do this part but are free to analyze the impact of changing to another system if you like.)