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Thread: The Case For Proportional Representation

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    The Case For Proportional Representation

    In the US, we tend to blame a lot of problems with elections on the media or on people's political attitudes. However, I think there are some problems inherent with the electoral system we've inherited from the English. In America, we've had two nationally viable political parties for most of our history as well as lower than average voter turnout. For many reasons, other Liberal Democracies don't experience these problems to the same extent as we do here in the US.
    Name:  First World Turnout.jpg
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    The above graph shows voter turnout in liberal democracies organized by their electoral family (Plurality-Majoritarian (US, Canada), Semi Proportional (Japan), and Proportional Representation (Germany, Sweden)) from 1945 to 2006 (IDEA 2006).


    This is because in countries where politicians are elected based on a majority or plurality of the votes in their district, citizens are less likely to waste their vote if they choose between two major party candidates. Voter turnout would be higher if if voters could choose between a variety of candidates with a lower likelihood that their vote will be wasted.


    For reference, the map below shows countries organized by color into their respective electoral families. Countries that elect representatives via a plurality or a majoritarian system are tan, countries that use a form of proportional representation are red and countries that use a blend of the two are orange.


    Name:  Electoral families.jpg
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    (IDEA 2004)


    *All graphs and data are generated by Student Microcase Explorit software and contain data collected by IDEA.


    @IMPress Polly might have more to contribute to this.
    Last edited by KC; 11-03-2012 at 09:01 PM.
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    IMPress Polly (11-05-2012),Mister D (11-03-2012)

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    I used to favor the two party system because I said it kept out the kooks but I no longer feel that way. The established parties work together to shut out alternatives.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Not sure how I think on this topic, we live in a winner-take-all system and I'm used to that, but proportional started sounding interesting after listening to the following podcast: Rodden on the Geography of Voting. Jonathan Rodden, political science professor at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. You can go there to listen or read extensive notes in the interview.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    I used to favor the two party system because I said it kept out the kooks but I no longer feel that way. The established parties work together to shut out alternatives.
    Some historians have argued that the reason so much of Europe uses Proportional Representation is precisely to keep out the kooks. Social Democrats wanted to keep socialist and communist parties from out competing them and replacing them as the party of the left, so conceding a few seats to the far left was an advantageous move. This is likely the reason the Liberal Party in Britain still advocates for PR today. They were slow on the uptake with PR and they've been more or less out of power ever since.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris View Post
    Not sure how I think on this topic, we live in a winner-take-all system and I'm used to that, but proportional started sounding interesting after listening to the following podcast: Rodden on the Geography of Voting. Jonathan Rodden, political science professor at Stanford and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. You can go there to listen or read extensive notes in the interview.
    I was going to reference Rodden in my last post actually. I've been listening to EconTalk pretty religiously since you told me about it.
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    I have noticed that such a system has forced right center parties to adopt elements from the platforms of "far right" parties particularly in France. I think that this is a good thing and I've said that the ultimate electoral success of "fringe" parties does not define their success or that of their ideas at ay rate.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    I have noticed that such a system has forced right center parties to adopt elements from the platforms of "far right" parties particularly in France. I think that this is a good thing and I've said that the ultimate electoral success of "fringe" parties does not define their success or that of their ideas at ay rate.
    Actually France uses their own flavor of the Plurality-Majoritarian approach. I'm note sure what it is exactly.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    Actually France uses their own flavor of the Plurality-Majoritarian approach. I'm note sure what it is exactly.
    I vaguely remember some of this from a course I took on the E.U. back in 1998 or 99. Whatever it is it results (or did in the past) in far more ideological diversity than it does here. Granted, that's not saying much.
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister D View Post
    I vaguely remember some of this from a course I took on the E.U. back in 1998 or 99. Whatever it is it results (or did in the past) in far more ideological diversity than it does here. Granted, that's not saying much.
    I think it's because they have a semi Presidential system which allows for a run off election. Also they have a parliament, which incentivizes parties to make small gains in legislature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    I think it's because they have a semi Presidential system which allows for a run off election. Also they have a parliament, which incentivizes parties to make small gains in legislature.
    The regional elections are something like proportional, no?
    Whoever criticizes capitalism, while approving immigration, whose working class is its first victim, had better shut up. Whoever criticizes immigration, while remaining silent about capitalism, should do the same.


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