reply to post by thoughtsfull
An interesting point actually, implicit within your summary of the circumstances you are facing locally, the major effect of PR is to remove regional
distortions of voting practices - it becomes a national contest rather than a summary results of local contests.
However, in this pure form is it valid?
Think of it in extreme terms, imagine 100 constituencies, 10 of which are urban and the other 90 which are rural. 33% of the population live in the
urban area and the rural areas have 67% in total.
Each rural area votes for a different local candidate of one of 3 'country' parties. The urban areas unanimously vote for a single 'industrial'
Our initial FPTP system produces 10 seats for the Industrials and 90 seats for the Country parties. Clearly, the Industrialists don't stand a chance
so we have to level the playing field by equalising the opportunity based on 'classes' of seat.
Basically, the voting is 1/3 to 2/3 population wise, but this is not reflected in the seats which are 10/100 to 90/100.
So, if we say that 90 = 2/3 we could turn the 10 seats into 1/3 by allocating 45 seats to the industrial areas rather than just 10.
So now we have 45 seats for the Industrials and 90 seats for the Country parties, which vary in voter distribution. Now, this is what we currently
have in the UK - or at least an effort to affect this system. It is based on an effort to equalise notional differences in population density
although it appears unfair when a particular population minority manages to garner a majority by virtue of seats.
So, lets introduce PR, the share is as follows:
Country Party #1 - 24%
Country Party #2 - 13%
Country Party #3 - 30%
Industrial Party - 33%
A percentage is a percentage, so these would remain the same regardless of the number of seats involved. if we keep it simple and have 100 seats, the
Industrial part has 33% of the seats but can still be blocked by a pact between Country Party #1 and Country Party #2.
From this simple example, it can be seen that the parliamentary majority has to increase (say to 70%) in order for other voting members to have a fair
chance, however, this perhaps causes another issue because the Industrialists have a greater 'blocking power' but are even less likely to actually
achieve a majority for their own initiatives.
This is what we tend to see in Europe, that is, the power of 'blocking' over 'support' which actually introduces new policies as instruments of
So, despite having the greatest share of the national vote, none of the Industrialist policies actually get implemented because the country parties
effectively horse-trade between themselves.
Can we fiddle the figures to get better representation?
Not really... the reason is that this system is still based on the allocation of seats to MPs which induces the issues I raised in the OP (i.e.
regional representation). It also does nothing to reduce the impact of party politics.
Then again, should it? Although the Country parties are different, they have the same mindset and effectively represent 67% of the voting population.
Why should their policies be moderated?
This is where is gets difficult because for true democracy we should really be voting on individual policies rather than grouped party politics. I
might admire the Country party policies on environment and defence but the Industrialists have better policies on social welfare.
How can we mix and match?
Frankly I have no idea - I simply know that PR itself will not produce 'better' politics or in fact change representation in terms of democratic
As has been mentioned, one way is to remove party 'whips' and allow free voting based on individual conscience. Regional politics would have to
undergo a radical overhaul to provide "point zones" of representation, essentially chopping up the landscape into equally populated zones and
reflecting the majority vote as best as possible - there has to be a compromise somewhere.
Would these suggestion make a difference - I have no idea, but the voters have to think about the real detail of these things while papers simply
bandy about the phrase "PR"!
[edit on 9-5-2010 by SugarCube]