Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Single Member District/Plurality method vs. Proportional Representation

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Vodka Belt
    Posts
    3,270


    1 members appreciate this post.

    Default Single Member District/Plurality method vs. Proportional Representation

    In democracies, there are commonly two different methods to elect legislature or parliament, which often results in who get to run the government as the executive branch (but not always, as seen in the US). The two ways are the single member district (SMD) aka plurality method and proportional representation.

    The first one, SMD, is not too common among democracies, but it is present in big countries like the US, the UK and Canada. The essence of this method is that a country divides itself into several political districts, often referred to as constituencies, and then the inhabitants in each of the constituencies vote for the one they want to be represented by and the one who wins goes to the parliament/legislature. A person only need the most votes to win, not the majority of the votes.
    For instance, person A could get 40% of the votes, person B 35% of the votes and person C the last 25% of the votes. Even though person A didn't get the majority of the votes, she got the plurality of the votes and therefore wins the election of that constituency. The other persons lose and get nothing. Thus this method is sometimes referred to as the "first-past-the-post" method. Person A wins even though the majority didn't want her to represent them, they wanted someone else to represent them. Not very democratic, is it? Also, the votes for person B and C get thrown away. This often results in that supporters of minority parties can't be bothered with voting in their constituencies when they know that their vote won't mean a thing. If party A consistently has won the election in a certain constituency, what is the point of voting for party B when all those votes will be thrown away?
    It is seen that small parties often have no chance in countries which run their election through the SMD method, because the votes they get won't ever count since there always is a bigger party. That way, the smaller parties will never get to sit in the legislature and the country's politics ends up as a two-party stand off as seen in the USA; here you get, in practice, to vote for either the Democrats or the Republicans. If you don't believe in the far right policy, then that's tough, there is no alternative with any meaning. Any votes for a non-far-right party will simply be thrown into the bin.

    To sum the SMD method up in an example, we can see how the elections to the British House of Commons went in 1992:
    The Conservatives got 41,9% of popular vote and 51,6% of seats in the House of Commons.
    The Labour Party got 34,4% of popular vote and 41,6% of seats.
    The LibDems got 17,8% of popular vote and 3,1% of seats.
    All the other parties got 5,9% of popular vote and 3,7% of seats.

    A worst scenario could be found in a system like the one US has where there are only to parties capable of winning. If every constituency in the US had an outcome where the Republicans won 51% of the votes and the Democrats won 49% of the votes, then the Republicans would get 100% of the seats in the House of Representatives. Remember, this is just hypothetical.

    Not very democratic nor very representative of what the voters want.


    The other example, proportional representation, is a nation-wide system. Here a party's share/percentage of the votes is just as high as its seats in the legislature. If party A wins 55% of the nation-wide votes, it will get 55% of the seats in parliament. If party B wins 30% of the votes, it will get 30% of the seats in parliament. So on and so on with party C, D, E etc.
    Here the parties get what they deserve. It is highly democratic. This is the system that is most used today by democracies. It also is proven that proportional representation gives the most political participation by voters compared to the SMD system.
    Smaller parties also get a chance to have a say in the political arena as their votes actually count even though there are bigger parties. If you do not agree with the mainstream political ideas, you can vote for alternatives and your wishes have a opportunity to be heard and represented.

    So after the veeeeeeery long summary of democratic election 101, what is your opinion on these two methods and your country's use of one of them? Is a country truly democratic when using an SMD method?

    I probably forgot about a lot of things, but just ask and I'm sure someone can answer you. I also believe many here know all about this and you can just skip down here to the question.
    Last edited by RageAndLov; 12-18-2010 at 12:51 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    I don't grab tits. I have tits thrust upon me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Winnipeg/The GTA
    Posts
    5,784


    Default

    I live in a westminster style, first past the post system: it's not the most democratic process: for example, our Green party gets around 8% of the popular vote, but zero seats in parliament. That said, although in theory am open to a more proportionally based system (or maybe something like an Australian based preferential based system) but i'm relatively content with the existing method: it seems to be efficient enough.
    Last edited by jacknife737; 12-18-2010 at 07:02 PM. Reason: too many fucking systems: why the fuck are you reading this anyways?
    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Gabel
    Adrenaline carried one last thought to fruition.
    Let this be the end.
    Let this be the last song.
    Let this be the end.
    Let all be forgiven.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Posts
    1


    Default Fair Vote Canada

    Voting system reform is urgently needed in Canada. Find out more here:
    http://FairVote.Ca

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    England
    Posts
    224


    Default

    There's talk of electoral reform here in the UK; one of the concessions the Conservatives made when forming the coalition with the LibDems was to agree to hold a referendum on the voting system. The LibDems are of course in favour of electoral reform; the Conservatives and Labour not (although they say they are).

    I think the system needs to be changed.
    People argue that Proportional Representation leads to fringe parties getting seats in Parliament. Simple PR with no threshold to screen out smaller parties was one of the failings of Weimar Germany... but surely we've learned that lesson by now.

    I'm interested in the Alternative Vote system: voters rank the candidates. If no candidate has 50% of first preferences then second preferences are counted and so on until someone has a majority.

    What's the system in the rest of Europe? PR or AV or some kind of combination?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Vodka Belt
    Posts
    3,270


    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by batfish View Post
    What's the system in the rest of Europe? PR or AV or some kind of combination?
    The most common is PR, but France has a combination. Half the parliament is voted through the PR system, and the other half through the SDM system.

    Holding a referendum would be a good idea, but it must be thoroughly explained the difference and the pros and cons between the two systems in order to be fair. A lot of people have the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it", although some may argue that the SDM system isn't working as well as the PR system could do in the UK, as we saw in the 1992 general election.
    Of course, a threshold is important, otherwise you'll end up with a situation like that of India where you get 23 parties in government.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    I don't grab tits. I have tits thrust upon me.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Sydney, Australia
    Posts
    210


    Default

    In Australia we just had a federal election. 42% of first preference votes went to the Liberal National party while 38% of the first preference vote went to the labour party. Each party got 72 seats each in the Australian house of representatives with a difference of 560,000 votes. The labour party then went on to form Government.

    I think that proportional representation is a far fairer way of distributing representation equally.

    However we look at the Weimar republic in Germany and see how it doesn't work, especially with allowing radicals and extremists representation.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    The Vodka Belt
    Posts
    3,270


    1 members appreciate this post.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by rise_and_fall View Post
    In Australia we just had a federal election. 42% of first preference votes went to the Liberal National party while 38% of the first preference vote went to the labour party. Each party got 72 seats each in the Australian house of representatives with a difference of 560,000 votes. The labour party then went on to form Government.

    I think that proportional representation is a far fairer way of distributing representation equally.

    However we look at the Weimar republic in Germany and see how it doesn't work, especially with allowing radicals and extremists representation.
    Most democracies today use the PR system and it clearly works. The ten least corrupted countries in the world consists of 7 using the PR system and one using a mixture of the PR and the SDM system. The Weimar republic didn't solely fail because of proportional representation, but because of several factors. Democracy itself got the blame within Germany and therefore they voted like they voted.
    Quote Originally Posted by Paint_It_Black View Post
    I don't grab tits. I have tits thrust upon me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    1


    Default

    Good discussion here, though now a few years old.

    I am an American, and have just discovered this thread because of a Google search, trying to find a definitive answer to the question, "Why do we have a two party system?" I've been asking the question since 2000 when I was volunteering for the Nader campaign (Green Party). Also, I have participated in gathering info about the 50 states' policies for running as as a write-in candidate. Some states require very high thresholds of signatures, and some require as much as $3,000 for the right to have your write-in votes counted or else those votes really do "end up in the bin." If a person is running for even a state office, and doesn't have the massive PR machine of the Democrats or Republicans working for them, isn't it outrageous to set the threshold so high?

    Sadly, there is very little understanding here among the average person, poor or rich, about how our "democracy" works. I liken our system to an onion, because each new way in which I have participated, as Congressional clerk, voter registrar, polling worker, and more, has always proved that our system is obscure, outmoded, easily corruptible. There's a site I love that has so much interesting info related to this, BlackBoxVoting.org I like to stump people by asking why it is that there are more options when choosing toothpaste than political representation.

    My next move is to start volunteering with Move to Amend to amend the US Constitution to close the gap that allowed for corporate personhood. Corporations are not citizens with the rights and privileges of individuals!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Czech Republic
    Posts
    18,043


    Default

    I realize this thread is 3 years old, and I'm not sure if the post before mine qualifies as spam, but this is a good topic and I wanted to say a few things. First of all, I've never met anyone who likes the voting system of the US or who would be against changing it to PR.

    Second of all,
    Quote Originally Posted by rise_and_fall View Post
    In Australia we just had a federal election. 42% of first preference votes went to the Liberal National party while 38% of the first preference vote went to the labour party. Each party got 72 seats each in the Australian house of representatives with a difference of 560,000 votes. The labour party then went on to form Government.
    I dunno if you post here anymore or will see this, but Labour party lost the election and then went on to form the government? I'd say that's backwards, but that actually happened here in Slovenia in 2012. The Slovenian Democratic Party lost to the Positive Slovenia party, but SLP prevented PS from assembling the cabinet on time, and the state propped up SLP in the end, even though I don't know a single person who doesn't hate them and they only got like 20% of the vote. PR doesn't solve all problems, unfortunately :-/
    Quote Originally Posted by jsmak84 View Post
    I do not drink alcohol and coffee

    I do not smoke and do not do drugs

    I just do bumpin in my trunk

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •