In Memoriam

Dan S. Felsenthal (1938 – 2019)

The fact that with three or more alternatives the social preference ordering may contain a top-cycle does not necessarily imply that it is impossible to amalgamate fairly the individual preferences into a reasonable social choice.


We announce with deep regret the passing in February of our dear friend and colleague. Dan was emeritus professor at the University of Haifa, CPNSS Research Associate and VPP Co-Director at LSE and a major contributor and active Co-Editor of the new VoteDemocracy international research initiative. In his early career, Dan published books and many papers on voting theory, voting behaviour and the application of game theory to politics. In the 1990s, Dan Felsenthal and Moshé Machover (F&M) began their professional collaboration researching various topics on voting power. Their now classic Measurement of Voting Power (1998) received unanimous praise from reviewers and, with the founding of VPP at LSE in 2000, helped to generate a mini renaissance internationally on voting power research. The F&M partnership resulted in a prodigious output of top class papers culminating with their last book Electoral Systems (2012). The Festschrift Voting Power and Procedures (2014) honoured F&M for their enormous contribution towards the reawakening of the field of voting theory. The volume also contains an insightful interview of both authors on the development of their working partnership. In 2015 Dan began a new and highly successful collaboration with Hannu Nurmi that resulted in three books published successively in as many years. Both authors returned to themes they had worked on in the past to evaluate, in light of the most recent research, many voting procedures in terms of their ability to avoid the various paradoxes and pathologies that can afflict them. These books make an important contribution to voting theory both theoretical and practical. Taken together the three companion volumes provide an excellent overview of the most important advantages and disadvantages of the main voting procedures, thus helping decision makers to choose the most suitable. Dan’s energy, eagle-eyed attention to detail and thorough professionalism was particularly evident with his all-in support of the new VoteDemocracy research project. Until the very end, he was enthusiastically discussing ways the project could make the often quite technical content of voting theory more accessible to the non-specialist. We hope VoteDemocracy will prove a fitting tribute to his considerable intellectual efforts.

Rudolf Fara


Selected Recent Publications



Felsenthal, D. S. and H. Nurmi (2019) Voting procedures under a restricted domain. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

The authors examine the 20 most common voting procedures and their susceptibility to various voting paradoxes in a restricted domain, namely in preference profiles where a Condorcet winner exists and is elected by the procedure under study. Restricted domain is the focus because many probability and simulation studies have shown that profiles with cyclic majorities (where no Condorcet winner exists) are far less common than those with Condorcet winners.



Felsenthal, D. S. and H. Nurmi (2018) Voting procedures for electing a single candidate. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

This book examines those properties of voting rules that pertain to various voting paradoxes. The procedures under investigation are divided into three categories: (i) those that do not require individual preference rankings in determining the winner, (ii) those that require such rankings, but are not Condorcet-consistent, and (iii) those that are based on rankings and are Condorcet-consistent. Each procedure is analysed in terms of its vulnerability to a dozen different voting paradoxes.



Felsenthal, D. S. and H. Nurmi (2017) Monotonicity failures afflicting procedures for electing a single candidate. Cham, Switzerland: Springer.

Monotonicity is a very natural desideratum of voting procedures: receiving additional support, ceteris paribus, should not weaken a candidate’s position. In this book a distinction is made between monotonicity in fixed and variable electorates. After a review of the main theoretical results in voting theory, 18 voting rules are analysed in terms of their vulnerability to various types of monotonicity failure. 



Felsenthal, D.S. and M. Machover (1998) The measurement of voting power. Cheltenham, UK and Northampton MA, USA: Edward Elgar.

The classic landmark book on voting power. As reviewers said: ‘To say that this book is excellent would be an understatement. It is really remarkable…’; ‘It is at the cutting edge of research, but it is also of practical and political relevance, insofar as it provides a basis for the analysis of real-life decision-making processes’; ‘…No one working in the field of formal political theory, institutional design and/or applied social choice theory can afford to ignore it’



Felsenthal, Dan S. and M. Machover, Eds. (2012) Electoral Systems. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Both single and multi-winner voting procedures are consdered in this collection of papers. Starting from a discussion of the underlying principles of democratic representation, the book describes a great variety of voting procedures and examines their susceptibility to the main voting paradoxes. It assesses (under various models of voters preferences) the probability of paradoxical outcomes and the relevance of the theoretical results to the choice of voting system.



Fara, Rudolf, Dennis Leech and Maurice Salles, Eds. (2014) Voting Power and Procedures. Berlin and Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

This Festschrift honouring Felsenthal and Machover reconsiders foundational aspects of the measurement of voting power. The specific case of voting power in 2-tier systems—for example, in the US system and the EU system—is analysed and the major power indices are revisited. The book proposes new voting procedures and considers well-known systems and apportionment methods from technical and historical points of view.