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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Proportional Representation: Paralysis and Parasites

"I am a great enthusiast for a couple of almost unique pillars of US and UK democracy:  the first past the post principle in designating the winners of elections and the winner takes all notion of governance following the elections.  To anyone who finds these principles unexceptional, I must explain that they run directly against the operative principles of many if not most nations on the Continent, where progressive political theories stressing consensus and inclusiveness have given us executives and legislatures which are utterly incapable of being disruptive. What we get here in Old Europe tends to be coalition governments or power-sharing in which parliamentary majorities are hobbled together by distributing the spoils of office, assigning ministerial portfolios with utter disregard for policy coherence or the competence of the appointees. The stasis in policy results in voter apathy and works directly against the vibrancy of democracy."

- Gilbert Doctorow
https://gilbertdoctorow.com/2018/12/20/donald-trump-orders-full-withdrawal-of-us-ground-forces-from-syria-the-establishment-howls-it-disapproval/

"Proportional representation - instead of voting for an MP, like we do in Britain, Weimar Germans voted for a party. Each party was then allocated seats in the Reichstag exactly reflecting (proportional to) the number of people who had voted for it. This sounds fair, but in practice it was a disaster it resulted in dozens of tiny parties, with no party strong enough to get a majority, and, therefore, no government to get its laws passed in the Reichstag. This was a major weakness of the Republic."

- BBC History
http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/germany/weimarstrengthweakrev_print.shtml

But the Alternative Vote, whose adoption in the UK the Labour and Conservative parties colluded to block, is not the same thing, and if we are to have a second referendum on anything, this might be one to consider:

https://theylaughedatnoah.blogspot.com/2011/04/voting-reform-av-first-past-post.html

- I'd be interested to know of any simulations that might help us see the likely outcomes of an AV system. I don't think it would necessarily boost the LibDems - it depends on how they and other parties might reposition themselves and also what new parties might arise.

And after decades of Punch and Judy politics a more focused struggle for the centre might be beneficial.

2 comments:

Sackerson said...

JD comments:

There is nothing wrong with the options you mention. The problems come from the people who wish to be politicians who are the very people who should not be anywhere positions of authority; busybodies and people who cannot get jobs anywhere else, the 'angry apes' (cf Shakespeare's Measure for Measure Act 2 Scene2)

I was watching this programme tonight- https://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/shows/abandoned-engineering/

Most of the Government projects were monumental and expensive examples of political stupidity. Clueless doesn't even begin to describe the people who dream up these things. The road built through Shoemaker Canyon is a perfect example!

In the 80s James Goldsmith suggested that MPs ought to be selected in the same way that juries are selected, ie at random from the electoral rolls. It could not be any worse than any other system and the people who were selected would most assuredly have a much better grasp of reality.

Was David Sutch a great political visionary? In the sixties he launched his Monster Raving Loony Party and in his first manifesto he included - abolition of the 11+, votes for teenagers and passports for pets. All of those things have come to pass!

There should there be a statue of Screaming Lord Sutch in Parliament Square!

Sackerson said...

The Athenian system (Kleroterion):

https://news.cnrs.fr/videos/the-machine-that-selected-the-citizens-of-athens

So long as you have an impartial, honest, knowledgeable and hard-working civil service to give you policy options, this could work!