Saturday, 1 May 2010

In defense of PR

Further to my one-before-last post, in which I advocated voting for the Liberal Democrats in order to help bring about a situation where a hung parliament might lead to the introduction of PR, and in light of the fact that both Labour and Conservative campaigners have been frantically highlighting the perceived dangers of hung parliaments (and therefore, by implication, of PR, which tends to lead to a hung parliament [or, more positively, a balanced parliament]), I intend, in this post, to address the main criticisms that I have heard people make about the concept of proportional representation as a means of electing the national parliament.

Criticism 1: PR is less likely to deliver an overall majority to any party, and therefore leads to coalition governments which are both weak and impossible to vote out.
- One of the advantages that many people claim for the first-past-the-post system is that it usually delivers a government with a majority of seats in parliament, thus enabling it to get its planned programme of legislation enacted into law without too much difficulty. But surely the notion of one party holding a majority of the seats in parliament is only justifiable if that party is supported by the majority of the electorate. If it is not supported by the majority of voters then effectively what we have is a group of people representing a minority of the population, forcing their will onto the majority. That doesn't seem very democratic to me. A coalition government may be weak, in the sense that no one party within the coalition may be able to achieve everything it would like to, and in the sense that its actions must involve negotiation, bargaining and compromise, but that is inevitable in a situation where politicians are representing a public with a diverse range of political viewpoints, and must surely be preferable to one party lording it over the legislative chamber without a genuinely democratic mandate from the voters. Decisions arrived at through negotiation and compromise may even sometimes be better than those which originate with one party and then enjoy free passage through parliament by virtue of a majority. As for the argument, which is sometimes made, that a coalition government can never be voted out, this is only true to the extent that the electorate can never be 'voted out'! A coalition government, elected using proportional representation, needs to hold the confidence of a parliament which reflects the political 'shape' of the electorate as a whole and, unlike the zero-sum game of first-past-the-post elections - where the representatives of one part of the electorate hold total power for a period and then lose all power, to be replaced by the representatives of another part of the electorate - under PR a coalition government, while it may not necessarily be so easy to vote out, will, if it wishes to continue in power, change it's composition to reflect the changing political demographics of the electorate. Of course, if a large enough part of the electorate become completely disenchanted with the coalition government then, following a general election using PR, the new government (whether it was a coalition or not) would, no doubt, look very different to the previous one.

Criticism 2: PR would lead to political stalemates, with governments unable to act because of the lack of a clear parliamentary majority.
- This is really a very similar criticism to the last one and, while it's true that under PR it is often harder to get legislation passed, this is, in my opinion, no bad thing. It is felt by many people that there are already far too many laws on our statute books and, as mentioned in my previous answer, the need for negotiation and compromise is an important way of ensuring that any legislation which is passed is as acceptable as it can be to the public as a whole. In the devolved parliaments and assemblies of the UK the various parties involved in coalition governments are learning to thrash out compromises and come to agreements which, though they sometimes do take a long time to arrive at (eg. the decisions involving the handing over of police powers to Stormont) do, as a result of the compromises involved, tend to have the support of a broader section of the electorate than they would do had they been foisted on the public by a government which, while not being supported by the majority of voters, nevertheless held a majority in parliament.

Criticism 3: PR would allow minority parties, such as the BNP, to hold a disproportionate amount of power.
- It's true that under PR a situation could arise where a minority government might need to strike a deal with an unpopular minority party in order to get a proposed piece of legislation passed through parliament. This does mean that small parties could potentially hold a very small amount of power (though only to the extent that the more mainstream parties would be prepared to compromise with them - the more extreme ideas of parties like the BNP would almost certainly not be up for discussion) but it would not be a disproportionate amount of power. The ability any small party had to influence decisions made in parliament would be in direct proportion to the level of its electoral support, and that is how it should be in a democracy, even where parties representing those with deplorable and offensive views are concerned.

Criticism 4: PR takes away the connection between MPs and local areas as MPs do not represent particular constituencies under PR.
- This is, in my opinion, the strongest argument against PR but also the most easily dealt with. The system of PR which I am most in favour of (and which is, I believe, the one favoured by the Lib Dems) is the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, which delivers a result which is both proportional in party terms and keeps the connection between individual MPs and local constituencies. For a detailed explanation of how STV works, see here.

In my opinion there are four major democratic deficits facing the people of England today: Firstly, the lack of properly representative democracy in the UK - something that would be remedied by the introduction of PR; secondly, the lack of direct democracy, ie. referenda, when it comes to major constitutional issues (such as the giving away of significant powers to the EU, or issues around devolution within the UK); thirdly, the lack of an English Parliament and the consequent 'West Lothian' anomaly; fourthly, our subservience to the inherently undemocratic European Union. The introduction of PR into the UK electoral system would not only solve the first of these problems but could, perhaps, be an important step on the way to resolving the other three.

34 comments:

美書 said...

一沙一世界,一花一天堂,掌中握無限,剎那即永恆........................................

淑娟 said...

Nice post ~ 3Q..............................................................

DennyR_Guari佳穎 said...

很棒的分享~祝福你........................................

Avri221lE_Pryce1 said...

當身處逆境時,要能忍一時之氣,吃一時之苦,並及早確立自己的目標,總有一天,你會嘗到那甘美的果實。.............................................

建霖 said...

發表,是一種抒發:好的心情可以一再的回味發酵;壞的心情就讓它留在文字裡吧!加油!........................................

于呈均名 said...

your english is incredible............................................................

哲維 said...

Learning makes life sweet.............................................................

tyroneb said...

成人免費線上 免費視訊影音 一夜情色聊天室 免費h卡通影片 男男交友網 女優影城 無碼性感影片 亞洲東影片 極限情色偷拍貼圖 即時聊天室 小弟弟愛愛網 情趣用品 18禁的影片 少女辣妹 都都成人影城 線上a片免費 情色自拍貼圖區 麗色情遊戲 一夜情綱站 383影音 ut完美 玩美女人視訊 美女色情 脫衣秀 人妻自拍露點 熟女 免費a片 a片下載 a圖網情色交流論壇 女優寫真 /85cc 杜蕾斯貼圖區微風成人 嘟嘟 免費視訊 熊貓貼圖區 援交 情人視訊網d760 鋼管辣妹秀 av電話下載 洪爺性感影片貼影片 大奶護士 情色a片 情色免費下載 日本巨乳寫真 性愛聊天室 後宮 限制級 0204 性愛圖 洪爺自拍走光照片

Vi2139 said...

看看blog放鬆一下,工作累死了................................................................

向霖 said...

很期待新的內容,支持你.................................................................

張瑋劭 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」......................................................................

常映 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債.................................................................

堅強堅強 said...

向著星球長驅直進的人,反比踟躕在峽路上的人,更容易達到目的。............................................................

陳湖 said...

Hello~安安唷~很高興見到你哦!!............................................................

楊儀卉 said...

It takes all kinds to make a world.............................................................

JasonBirk佳琪 said...

woo ~ woo ~ thx alotsˋε ˊ..................................................................

香昱信張君林 said...

世間唯一永恆的,就是改變..................................................

育隆 said...

感謝您寫下您的生活,也是把珍寶來和諸君分享的心意。 ............................................................

懿綺懿綺 said...

世間唯一永恆的,就是改變..................................................

許堅儀許堅儀 said...

上班好累哦,看看部落格轉換心情~~~先謝謝啦!!..................................................................

吳婷婷 said...

多謝分享~ 真是意料之外的收獲!!............................................................

琬安琬安 said...

死亡是悲哀的,但活得不快樂更悲哀。. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

雅俊芬凱陳許 said...

Learning makes a good man better and ill man worse.............................................................

黃信梅 said...

我們能互相給予的最佳禮物是「真心的關懷」。..................................................

姿弘綸穎 said...

文章不求沽名釣譽,率性就是真的..................................................................

建邱勳 said...

這樣的情感,真是值得人羨慕..................................................................

黃子黃麗旺軒 said...

相見亦無事,不來常思君......................................................................

x于珊姚于珊姚于珊 said...

多謝美味的心靈雞湯......................................................

劉王育正劉王育正 said...

好的部落格就要和好朋友分享--感謝分享..................................................

淑梁梁梁娟 said...

謝謝大大分享!!經典!~(。・ω・)............................................................

316 said...

在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」............................................................

王辛江淑萍康 said...

喜歡看大家的文章,祝你順心~^^ ..................................................................

佳張張張張燕張張張張張 said...

很棒的分享~祝福你............................................................

王雅俊 said...

may the blessing be always with you!!............................................................