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Thread: Party-list elections

  1. #1
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    Default Party-list elections

    Ireland has an electoral system based on voting for individual candidates. Some voters place priority on their party-affiliation while others vote for personalities regardless of their political party.

    There are not many countries in Europein which MP`s have a direct mandate from the people. Finland, Ireland, the UK and France spring to mind. Most other countries on the continent have an electoral system of list election. Voters have no choice over the candidates but only vote for the party of their choice. Parties have their candidates in a prearranged order and starting from the top of the list, the party gets as many candidates elected as MP`s as their share of the vote merits. Of course, under this system party-leaders and his lackeys are always put at the top of the list, dissidents at the bottom.

    There has been a conversation in Finland whether we should move to the Swedish-model list-election system. Proponents of such a system maintain that personalities would not hijack the election campaign and the elections would be about issues at stake.

    I couldn`t disagree more. In my opinion the very fact that all those 200 blockheads in the Finnish parliament have each received sufficient amount of personal votes, is an indication that a nation gets decision-makers it deserves. Under a list-election system MP`s would probably call the party headquarters to ask for a permission to go to toilet.

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    Default Re: Party-list elections

    Quote Originally Posted by THR
    Ireland has an electoral system based on voting for individual candidates. Some voters place priority on their party-affiliation while others vote for personalities regardless of their political party.

    There are not many countries in Europein which MP`s have a direct mandate from the people. Finland, Ireland, the UK and France spring to mind. Most other countries on the continent have an electoral system of list election. Voters have no choice over the candidates but only vote for the party of their choice. Parties have their candidates in a prearranged order and starting from the top of the list, the party gets as many candidates elected as MP`s as their share of the vote merits. Of course, under this system party-leaders and his lackeys are always put at the top of the list, dissidents at the bottom.

    There has been a conversation in Finland whether we should move to the Swedish-model list-election system. Proponents of such a system maintain that personalities would not hijack the election campaign and the elections would be about issues at stake.

    I couldn`t disagree more. In my opinion the very fact that all those 200 blockheads in the Finnish parliament have each received sufficient amount of personal votes, is an indication that a nation gets decision-makers it deserves. Under a list-election system MP`s would probably call the party headquarters to ask for a permission to go to toilet.
    as opposed to our system where they claim credit for the tolit being built in their area even tho they had nothing to do with it.
    Signed, Universal (LGBT...QRSTUVWXYZ)

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    I like the idea of getting rid of clientelism with a list system, but it also has the problem of giving party leaders great power by deciding who is highest on the list. We could either have brilliant candidates or the shitest candidates, depending on who decides the list. Also, competition to get on a list is merely another form of clientelism. I think the status quo edges it on being slightly more democratic, but thats just my 2 cents.
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    Germany also elects half of its MPs via First Past the Post, so it could be added to the list of countries where MPs have a direct personal mandate.
    The big problem with the list system, as has been stated already, is that effectively the party leadership (or at best the party conference) choose the bulk of the MPs - get a high place on the list of one of the major parties and you are assured of your seat no matter what people think of you.
    Also, with list systems, it may be more difficult for independents to stand or get elected.
    I think the problem of clientelism in Ireland might be to do with the existance of multi-member constituencies, i.e. that people who want (for example) to be bumped up the housing list can play one TD off against the other whereas perhaps this might not be the case to the same extent if there was only one member per constituency.
    The obvious advantage of list sytems is that they make it easier to have an element of proportionality.
    Cumulative Voting is one possibility which combines some of the advantages of list systems with those of systems where each person elected has personal mandate. However, with cumulative voting you can't have single member constituencies.
    My personal preference would be for STV in single member constituencies.

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    In fact, rather few of the European party-list systems are closed list. Most are some sort of flexible list, although most of those are not, in fact, all that flexible in practice. Still, the majority of European systems do allow a candidate preference vote, and even if empirically we were to find that not many lists get their order changed by such votes, it is likely that parties anticipate voter preferences in constructing their lists. In fact, they seem to do that even when lists are closed, and voter preferences canít directly affect the order of the list. After all, parties are in competition with other parties (and all the more the greater the district magnitude) and if voters want candidates with certain characteristics (other than being the leaderís lackey), they fail to provide them at their peril. (See my previous discussion of Israelís (lack of) capital-centricity, despite closed lists, and the possible implications of PR in the UK.)

    In any event, whether lists are closed or flexible (or open), there is not much evidence that I am aware of that parties are as internally dictatorial as THR asserts.

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    Fianna Fail have already begun implementing a list system by stealth, judging by the way they rigged selection conventions in Mayo, Galway West and Wexford.

    And they didn't even bother to have the charade of a convention in Cork South West - candidates were just imposed by HQ
    "The IRA Army Council have a history of telling the truth. If they say they didn't do it, then I believe them" - Bertie Ahern, speaking after the murder of Det. Garda Jerry McCabe

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    It was FG which invented the strong-hand of HQ back in Garret's day. FF appear to be simply taking a lead from one lement of what what was a master playbook in the 77-82 period

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ballindrait
    Germany also elects half of its MPs via First Past the Post, so it could be added to the list of countries where MPs have a direct personal mandate.
    Indeed, New Zealand has copied its electoral system from Germany and while most people are satisfied with it as it provides an election-result based on the proportional share of the votes throughout the country, there are certain practical problems relating to the question of which candidates become MP`s. Half of the MP`s indeed have a constituency to look after and visit it regularly and listen to the people there, while the other half are elected from the national list and have no such obligations.

    Almost all of the single-member constituency MP`s represent the two main parties, the National Party and Labour while most of the list MP`s represent the smaller parties which have crossed the 5% threshold. This kind of system, both in New Zealand and in Germany has created a situation in which the constituency-MP`s consider themselves as much more "real" MP`s than the ones elected from the national list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by THR
    This kind of system, both in New Zealand and in Germany has created a situation in which the constituency-MP`s consider themselves as much more "real" MP`s than the ones elected from the national list.
    The big problem I have with the additional member sytem is that there are, as you say, two different types of MPs and I would argue that constituency MPs have a stronger mandate than list MPs - for example, a consituency MP could more easily justify breaking ranks with his party on some issue about which there is a disagreement. A list MP would be under much more pressure to tow the party line all the time.
    In practice, there isn't any distinction made in Germany. In fact, candidates who stood unsuccessfully in a constituency and were elected via their party list still regard the constituency where they stood as "their" constituency and I have often seen local media refer to any MP who stood in a given constituency and got elected via the list system as a local MP for the xyz constituency.
    So actually the problem as I see it in Germany is that the de facto distinction between two classes of MPs is completely ignored in practice!

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    In Scotland there seems to be a distinction between the constituency and list MSPs though it seems to be Labour MSPs who particularly highlight this and it may be due to their antipathy to any kind of proportionality anyway. (Also doing well in the constituency seats is viewed as more important as they are linked to performance in the Westminster constituencies and returning MPs in the next general election.)

    I'm currently involved in an internal party selection for a top-up list in a similar election (it is one member one vote rather than decided by any HQ though) and it has completely turned me off this form of election. It involves appealing to the core membership of a party rather than the borad electorate. And there is every bit as much, if not more, clientism but instead it is service to the party and party activists which is rewarded rather than service to the electorate.

    No system is perfect - you might as well go for something which is relatively simple and relatively proportional.

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