Press Release: New Comparative Analysis on Electoral Reform Features France’s Two-Round Runoff Elections


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Report Inquires Contact: Benjamin Reilly; [email protected]; (808) 475-6039

New Comparative Analysis on Electoral Reform Features France’s Two-Round Runoff Elections

April 26, 2022 – Today, the Institute for Political Innovation (IPI) released a report on Final-Five Voting by Dr. Benjamin Reilly (East West Center), Dr. David Lublin (American University), and Rachel Leven (IPI).

Final-Five Voting (FFV) is an innovation that combines open, single-ballot, top-five primaries and instant-runoff (IRV) general elections. The paper highlights France as an analogous “two-round” system, in which only two candidates advance to the final round.

France’s system shares some features with IRV (also known as ranked-choice voting), by, for instance, encouraging candidates to appeal to a broader, majority of voters. This played out between 2017 and 2022 as Marine Le Pen learned from her failed election and moderated her messaging and image, managing to narrow the margin considerably this year despite her loss.

Yet on Sunday, many French voters went to the polls feeling they had only a choice between the lesser of two evils. Many in France chose not to participate at all, with the abstention rate projected to be France’s highest since 1969. Sound familiar?

“Final-Five Voting: Comparative Evidence on a Novel Election System” shows that FFV is far less likely than a French-style two-round runoff to exclude major ideological or identity groups from the second round of voting. The paper also looks at Australia, where election campaigning is now underway. Like FFV, Australia uses IRV general elections, which has helped it avoid the polarization seen in the US.

The report uses a disaggregated and comparative approach to analyze this innovative electoral model and its potential impact on US governance, concluding that FFV offers real promise as an achievable and consequential reform.

The full report is available online.

Benjamin Reilly is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the East-West Center and the author of Democracy in Divided Societies, published by Cambridge University Press.

David Lublin is Chair of the Department of Government in the School of Public Affairs at American University and is the author of Minority Rules: Electoral Systems, Decentralization, and Ethnoregional Parties, published by Oxford University Press.

Rachel Leven is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Political Innovation and has held leadership positions in local government focusing on good government, democracy and ethics.

The Institute for Political Innovation is a cross-partisan, not-for-profit organization founded in 2020 by businesswoman Katherine M. Gehl that contributes theory, scholarship, and strategy to catalyze and model modern political change in America.

For questions or comment related to the report, please contact lead author

Benjamin Reilly at [email protected]; (808) 475-6039.