A lot of academic analysis regarding elections is devoted to questions such as which electoral system is better – proportional representation or first-past-the-post? Or which type of proportional representation is best? And so on.
A problem with these kinds of discussions is that they work within the framework of zero sum elections – to the extent one party wins, another loses.
I think a more important question is, instead, how do we turn elections into non-zero sum (win-win) situations?
Here’s one example. Parties could win funds-to-be-spent, tied to the number of votes they receive. The more votes, the more funds. If people don’t vote, those funds stay out of the process. No longer would the winner be whoever gets 50%+ of the vote (or what have you). Instead, parties win to the extent they engage voters. You could even have it so that voters could vote for multiple parties. The funds could then be spent in ways or on programs the parties thought were important. They wouldn’t be exclusive – both party A and party B could try to tackle some problem by setting up different initiatives using the funds they are allocated through the vote.
I think it makes sense to spend more time focusing on how to create non-zero sum situations in politics.