Robert J. Pekkanen
Small-group seminars address current problems in international affairs, each focusing on one specific policy question and producing a joint task force report. Restricted to senior majors in International Studies. Prerequisite: SIS 200; SIS 201; SIS 202; SIS 401.
All the problems we have with politics in Washington State, not to mention Washington DC, can seem overwhelming. You have been hired as consultants to figure out what we can do about it in Washington State, and your brief is to come up with a strategy and recommendations for electoral system change. In representative democracies, electoral systems provide the basis for the most primal connection between politicians and voters. In 2006, Pierce County adopted a "instant-runoff voting" system, or "ranked choice" voting. On May 5, 2010, United Kingdom voters rejected this same system. Electoral reform has succeeded in the past two decades in dozens of countries including Italy, Japan, and New Zealand, and failed in many others. Politics is the art of the possible, not the science of the perfect. So, your job is not to figure out which electoral system is "best" in the ideal realm of political science theory, but to come up with a plan to actually realize the best possible change. That means knowing local politics, interest groups, lobbying techniques and how to frame ideas so they catch on with the public.
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