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Party-list elections


THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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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.
 

Universal_001

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Joined
Apr 7, 2006
Messages
222
THR said:
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.
 

GusherING

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Jan 15, 2005
Messages
72
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.
 

Ballindrait

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Jan 29, 2007
Messages
10
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.
 

MSS

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Feb 19, 2007
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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 can’t 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 leader’s lackey), they fail to provide them at their peril. (See my previous discussion of Israel’s (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.
 

BarryW

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Sep 8, 2003
Messages
262
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 :lol:
 

Salthill

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Jun 19, 2006
Messages
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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
 

THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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Ballindrait said:
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.
 

Ballindrait

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Jan 29, 2007
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THR said:
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!
 

NeilW

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Dec 31, 2005
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4,634
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.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2007
Messages
7
Party Lists

I would whole-heartedly agree with the concept of party lists for the European elections. They tend to be out of public view 364 days of the year yet play a massive part in shaping our everyday lives. Instead of relying on so-called dream tickets as Fianna Fail do or going after celebrities like Fine Gael do it would be better for parties to put forward their brand for election. It would also be better for the various groupings in the European parliament to put forward candidates eg. European peoples party as opposed to FG, Europan social democrats instaed of labour,Euro liberals for PD's ect.

I think that the Irish people are more likely to go allow first past the post than party lists for General elections however. In a political syste where a politicians career prospects are more often decided by the constituency he represents rather than his ability a party list system has it's upsides, but it's downsides in terms of dislocation from the politica process are too great
 

THR

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The German/New Zealand-model was devised in order to ensure proportionality of the election result while maintaining the close link between the MPs and the constituencies. However, as it is very unlikely that more than 2-3 parties are in a position to win seats under the FPTP-method, the filling of the supplementary seats has its difficulties.

In Scotland, indeed, the constituencies for the seats in the Scottish-parliament are identical to the Westminster-constituencies. As the additional member system allows each voter with two votes, one for the local candidate and the other for the party-list, there were some problems with educating people how to vote as some thought that one may not vote for the same party with both ballots while many others thought that one must vote for the same party.
 

Clon

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Jan 8, 2007
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5
In theory with party lists people with some actual ability from the private sector etc. could be parachuted into the Dail. So, guys like Martin Mansergh would get in, and would have a far better knowledge of policies than most of the present TD's, eve someone like Michael O'Leary could get in :lol: .

In reality though I would fear that clientelism would prosper, so the mates of a party leader would get on the list, once the leader was sure of their undying support.

Secondly, D4 types would be the most likely beneficiaries, so every kind of organised lobby group would probably try to get their people on the lists, so expect more public sector union leaders, civil liberties campaigners like Bacik etc. getting in. For every able person that would be picked, you would probably find far more insiders gettng posts.

I would support a pool of maybe 10% of the Dail coming from a list system based on a parties performance in the GE, this would limit FF to about 7, FG to 3, labour 2, and 3 or 4 for the rest. This would force the parties to only parachute in a few people, which should mean only the cream are picked, and less insiders. The downside would be that people on the list could find it hard getting reelected to the list, given their would be so few positions.
 

THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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As the Irish electoral-system is also about voting for the individual candidate rather than the party, I must ask which one do you consider more important: The candidate him/herself or the party?

I find the system of closed list-elections profoundly undemocratic. For some reason I haven`t fathomed yet it is the left-wing parties in this country who are making statements that there should be a closed party-list election in which you vote instead of a candidate for a list readily compiled by a party.

However, many established democracies on the continent have this system and no-one questions their state of democracy. In my opinion, under a closed party-list system it would be possible to train a chimpnzee to push the right button in parliamentary-votings. List-elections are undemocratic, plain and simple! On the day such a system is introduced I`ll never vote again.
 

THR

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Nov 15, 2006
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Many people who support the idea of a closed list-election point out that the standard of politicians elected through list-elections is higher than in elections in which voters vote for individual candidates. That may be so but not necessarily. As the open personal votes often elect all kind of public celebrities such as ex-sportsmen, singers, beauty-contest winners etc I still wouldn`t scrap the system because it is not the fault of the system that people vote in such a stupid and immature manner. One ex olympic champion who 4 years ago ran for the Finnish parliament openly admitted that he hasn`t got a clue hoew much the annual state-budget is. Still, he got elected.

This time around(we have elections in two weeks time) there is another ex-olympic athlete, this time a cross-country skier running for parliament. No doubt he`ll get about 10000-15000 personal votes and therefore easily elected. I haven`t heard him say anything meaningful in his campaign. Many people vote for him on the basis that he is an outspoken man and he speaks lovely dialect(Ostrobothnian)

Sometimes all this makes me very sad and I can understand the Swedes who are not remotely interested in changing their party-list election system but still I find it more desirable to hope for the people to become a bit more aware than to change to a system which I find utterly undemocratic.
 

Respvblica

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Oct 13, 2006
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212
THR said:
List-elections are undemocratic, plain and simple! On the day such a system is introduced I`ll never vote again.
Totally agree. I hate the system where you end up having ministers that were selected by the pàrty but never had to camapign or be elected.
 

croppyboy

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Jun 10, 2006
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131
BarryW said:
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 :lol:
Difference is those selected still have to convince the public - all HQ gives them is the right to stand for the party - still a massive boost admittedly.

Under a true list system candidates would not face a public vote. One pro of this approach may be a lessening of parish pump politics and less populism.
 

Liberal333

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Oct 19, 2005
Messages
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In Israel it's a closed list but the Party members vote on the order. It has it's merits but it leadso unstable situations.

For instance last time ot the Shinui Party split when Ron Levinthal got he second slot and not Abraham Poraz. Neither party passed the threshold.
 

QuizMaster

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The one and only advantage of a list system is that it might do away with clientelism.

A better way to do this is to give proper power to local authorities. County councils could then look after local issues, leaving TDs to deal exclusively with national issues.

It would also take a change in our political culture.
 
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