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UK Political System
(26-09-18, 03:52 PM)Kay Parlay Wrote: In fact, why not abolish political parties entirely?

Because of what you deduce in your first paragraph. In Britain pervades a spirit of seeing things in terms of ‘winning and losing’. They need (at least) two parties. Not sure if that can be remedied, they might be genetically predisposed.
Talking of which Viridian, I have heard that in the Netherlands you are trying a new system wherein you vote for new head's for different ministries. I.e. for the position of head of education. 
Is this true? I'm very curious to know more if so.
Dodgey Geezer wrote:

"..It also fails to recognise how the system has delivered stable governments for the best part of a thousand years, while few Continental systems can manage more than 100 years."

> Aside from the fact that your current government is a minority government that has been absorbed in infighting, the question is not if your voting system leads to a stable government, but if your governments are representative of the people.

What good does it do to have a "stable goverment" if the government is not representative of the people? The whole idea of a parliamentary democracy is that parliament represents the people. 

In Belgium voting is mandatory and we have PR. This means that parliament is an accurate reflection of who the people voted for.

In Belgium it never happens that one party is large enough to govern on its own - it always takes a coalition of several parties to make a government. And such a coalition government again reflects the diversity of the vote of the people.
At Real European

I think perhaps its more necessary for a fiercely divided and segregated country like Belgium to have a PR system. Different countries have different situations and are best suited to different electoral systems. 

The down side to these broad church coalition governments is that it can sometimes take them an eternity to take necessary action. 
Take for example your countries administration in 2014 (Michel's). After 138 days of coalition talks it earned itself the nickname the kamikaze government. This is not to say that I think a different electoral system would be better for Belgium, as I have mentioned different systems work better for different situations. 

You ask the question "What good does it do to have a "stable government" if the government is not representative of the people", I would counter with the question, what good is a government that is so divided that it cannot make its mind up on what action to take? 

Brexit has highlighted just how important it is to have a united government (that we unfortunately do not have), for instead of negotiating a future for our people they are obsessively infighting. I cannot even imagine how much worse it would be right now if our government was formed of 3 competing factions.
(27-09-18, 10:19 AM)Maybenot Wrote: I think perhaps its more necessary for a fiercely divided and segregated country like Belgium to have a PR system. Different countries have different situations and are best suited to different electoral systems. 
You ask the question "What good does it do to have a "stable government" if the government is not representative of the people", I would counter with the question, what good is a government that is so divided that it cannot make its mind up on what action to take? 

Would not a better solution be to remove the ability of a political party, which is by its very nature unelected, to control the actions of the actual elected representatives of the people though?

I am all in favour of "nationalism" - so long as the "nations" are so small that they cannot decide that their own feelings of self-importance can create a situation where argument and dispute - natural inclinations of humankind everywhere it appears - can be turned into hatred, violence and, ultimately, war against other "nations".

Small is beautiful, remember? It is where co-operation between all groups can be for the greater good of all, keeping the narcissists and violent criminal minds away from the chance of holding power without the required responsibility for their actions, save for their relatively small group of badly informed fans and supporters - who have no idea at all as to what they are being manipulated to believing (see Brexit, Trump, M5S, FN, FPO, PP, Fidesz, AFD, PVV, etc. etc. etc).
Kay, I'm not sure I follow. Remember this is in the context of electoral systems. 

Real Europian was propositioning that a proportionally represented government, even if unstable, would be preferable over a stable government that does not represent the views of the people. 

Both seem to me seem to be drawing the short stick. At times a non-representational government will have to make concessions to the electorate, like on the run up to elections. It is true however that they will generally change policy in favor of retaining power themselves over the needs of the people. 

In contrast a coalition government may battle endlessly only to make a concession to one group of the electorate, at the indignation of the others, and then do the same for the others. A great deal of talking, a lot less doing, and the need to be very delicate about offending any given group at one time.

Non of these systems are ideal.
Quote:As pointed out several times before, I get a prompt that the website isn’t safe when trying to register. Who am I to argue with my iPad?

I explained that in the technical section here, where you posted that.
At Maybenot

The debate about voting systems is a complex one. I'll take the voting system(s) in my country, France, as an example. 
In the 4th republic (between the end of the war and 1958), France had a parliamentary system who proved to be very unstable (a bit like Italy) and highly dysfunctional, with parliamentary wars and alliances changing all the time ("politique des partis"). 
With the return of de Gaulle in power and the Algerian war, the country adopted a new constitution (the 5th republic) that gaves it a strong political stability at the cost of sacrificing the legislative power (parliament) in favour of the executive (presidential republic). Our voting system is like the UK's, a majority one, albeit with two rounds that allow some tactical voting. Some attempts at proportional voting have been made and the whole thing is endelessly debated in France.

Knowing two opposite systems (Italy and France), I'm generally for a middle ground. I'm for a proportional voting system with a slight correction for giving it more stability (which is necessary in my most unruly country). What I'm sorry for is the endless debate of stability vs democracy in my country. IMHO, there are many other possibilities to consider to ensure both. The debate should not be between two options but between a variety of experiences lead in many countries in the world. Some are very interesting (Australia, for example) and take into account the changing nature of what modern democracies involve.

Coalition vs one-party governments

A perfect election system does not exist - each system has positive and negative features. However, a nation should seek to have an 'optimal' election system considering also its special circumstances, history, political landscape, internal division into regions etc. It is about seeking a balance between stability and flexibility.

Note also that both a proportional system and a majority system are hardly ever applied in a 'pure' version - they mostly contain various correction mechanisms. For example, a majority system with two rounds (e.g. France, Germany - for the majority vote). Or a proportional system in which a party has to reach a certain threshold (percentage) of votes to get into the parliament to prevent fragmentation of the parliament into many parties (e.g. Slovenia, Germany - for the proportional vote). Or a system where small regions/parts have over-representation to balance a little a situation when there are big differences in the size of constituent parts represented in the parliament (e.g. Canada, the EU).

Angela Merkel said some interesting things at the press conference during her first trip to the US to meet Trump (see the quotes below) which show the huge difference in the political discourse between Germany and other EU member states which have proportional elements in the election system hence regular coalition governments (= sharing of power) and the EU on one side, and the US and the UK where the majority election system favours two major parties on the other.

In the US and the UK where there are in effect only two main parties, the political discourse is about total confrontation and posturing to the level of a farce (see for example PMQ). It seems that the Brits are not used to have constructive democratic debates.

On the other hand, a proportional framework with coalition governments requires constructive proposals and constructive debates, ability to form alliances and to cooperate, consideration and respect for other partners, working to search for a consensus and readiness to compromise. (Such approach also applies to the EU.)

Merkel at the press conference with Trump during her visit to the US (March 2017):

"In the period leading up to this visit, I’ve always said it’s much, much better to talk to  one another and not about one another...

We held a conversation where we were trying to address also those areas where we disagree, but to try to bring people together, try to show what is our vantage point, what is the American vantage point, and then try to find a compromise which is good for both sides. Because we need to be fair with each other. Each and every one is expecting for his or her leader that something good comes out of it for their own people.

For Germany, I can say, well, people are different. People have different abilities, have different traits of character, have different origins, have found their way into politics along different pathways. All that is diversity, which is good. Sometimes it’s difficult to find compromises, but that’s what we’ve been elected for. If everything just went like that and without problem, we wouldn’t need politicians to do these jobs."

In countries with proportional election elements and therefore regular coalition governments, politics is consensual. Moreover, all other EU members (except the UK) have written constitutions which limit the power of the politicians in favour of the power of the people (to whom the constitution which specifies the basic rules of living together in a society belongs). At the EU level, the EU treaties in effect act as a constitution limiting the power of the politicians.

In the UK politics, total confrontation, posturing, serial shameless lying, insults and serial U-turns are the norm, with unlimited power of the ruling party (due to a lack of a written constitution and due to parliamentary supremacy without proper separation of powers).

This huge difference in political philosophy between the UK and other EU members is also one of the major reasons for the UK not being compatible with the EU.

Coalition governments are not perfect. However, in such a system no party wields huge power - even the leading coalition partner always has to consult with other coalition parties and secure their consent. The regular meetings of coalition governments are meetings of several parties looking for compromises and optimal solutions. If for example the leading party starts acting unreasonably or breaching the coalition agreement, other parties can threaten to exit the coalition - which means a fall of the government (because it ceases to enjoy the support of a majority of MPs - the PM either steps down or gets a vote of no confidence), and a new government (a new combination of coalition partners with a new PM) can be established in the same parliament or else snap elections are called.

The UK had a Tory-LibDem 'coalition' government in 2010-2015. However, this really was not a proper coalition government - the Tories kept the philosophy of a one-party government. And the UK now has a minority one-party government propped up by a small party - the votes of which PM May bought using a bribe (= public money). This is just despicably anti-democratic. 

At least some elements of a proportional system are essential to allow for a wider variety of political opinions to get a voice (rather important in modern diverse rapidly-changing societies) and for more political parties to get a chance to be a part of a coalition government. Coalition governments try to find a consensus which suits many people rather than the voters of one party only, often also with cooperation with the opposition. After all, whoever gets into government is supposed to govern in the name of all people, not their own voters only.

A proportional system also allows for parties to splinter when there are big differences of opinion among the factions, and the new splintered party has a chance to make it to the parliament at the next elections, and even to a coalition government. So splintering, if based on good ideas, can be a great and successful new beginning. In the UK, the parties are tearing themselves apart with internal conflicts instead of governing the country because under FPTP splintering is rather suicidal.

I find FPTP hugely anti-democratic. It does not even try to be based an a majority of votes in a constituency - just more votes than all others is enough. So a large number of votes just gets discarded. A party can get a large majority of MPs with a rather low percentage of votes. Moreover, for example Labour voters who happen to live in a 'safe' Tory constituency (where there is a large majority support for the Tories) can vote as much as they like all their lives, but their votes will be always thrown away - only votes for the Tory candidate count. How is this even remotely democratic?

Here is another gem of 'democracy' British-style:

We're utterly disfranchised': welcome to Buckingham, the constituency where votes don't count

As a consequence of his impartiality, Mr Bercow - who keeps order in the Commons - cannot vote on legislative issues, unless it is to break a tie. Furthermore, it is a long-held tradition for the mainstream parties to respect the constituency of the Speaker and not to field candidates against him, whatever the constituency.

This is just insane. How can the previous parliament decide in advance = before the elections who the speaker (= the president of the parliament) will be under the new mandate? And deliberately disenfranchising the people in the speaker’s constituency is criminally anti-democratic.

To top it all up, the UK also has a completely unelected second chamber of the parliament (including even unelected clerics of one religion sitting in the parliament)! HoC elected under FPTP and unelected HoL really cannot even remotely pass as a democratic system in any modern sense of the word.



Germany has a combined proportional and majority system. Perhaps this would be a system for France to think about?

Slovenia has a rather 'pure' proportional system - but we too keep debating about it (we had once even a referendum about changing it). Mostly some sort of a combined system is proposed by experts, whereas the parties keep pushing for the system which they think would benefit them most. I think this is a case where 'we the people' have to be in charge - helped by independent (not aligned with any political party) experts, of course.

I'm sure it would be interesting to have a system closer to the German one. We have no lack of constitutional experts(!). But whatever good option is proposed is blocked by politicians of all persuasions.

From what I know of it, I do admire the German constitution which provides for a much better check&balance setting than France has.

As you say, "this is a case where 'we the people' have to be in charge - helped by independent (not aligned with any political party) experts, of course."

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