A Plea For Proportional Representation Essay Research — страница 3

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passed into law. In a study comparing legislation in major democracies, Dr. Arend Lijphart, professor of political science and president of the American Political Science Association, found that “countries with proportional representation — which generally elect a much higher percentage of women than Canada — have enacted more laws that benefit women and children” . His research shows that “the number one predictor of women’s success in national legislative elections, when tested with other political and socio-economic variables, is the presence of proportional representation (PR) voting systems” . One could argue then that plurality should be abolished if not for the many reasons listed thus far, than simply because it impedes the progression of women’s rights

and prevents them from being equally represented in the governing of our nation. Many people in favor of the plurality system are quick to criticize proportional representation because it provides a greater opportunity for a minority government to be formed because it allows more parties to get seats in the House. They argue that PR is “ineffective and unstable because, government must govern as well as represent.” The plurality system is thought by its advocates to increase the chances of a majority government being elected, which is important to the governing process. However, between the years 1962 to 1992, Canada has had a majority government six times and a minority government six times and they have all been generally effective. Those in favor of the plurality system

would argue that minority governments have fallen more quickly than majority ones which is true. However, it must be pointed out that it is not because minority governments are unstable that they fell fast, but rather because of “incentives that the plurality system gives large parties to collapse the government because a small change in votes could give them a majority government”. Proportional representation’s record in other countries also serves to erase the misconceptions that adopting such a system would result in legislatures suspended in conflict and unable to make decisions because of political deadlock. Most legislatures in countries using proportional representation are ruled by a coalition of parties, and some fear that these coalitions are prone to be unstable

and to lead to weak and unproductive government. In reality, however, almost all PR countries have enjoyed stable coalition governments. In Scandinavia, for instance, some of these multi- party coalitions have lasted for decades and these large coalitions have commonly passed legislation far more efficiently than our government does. Admittedly, a few countries, notably Italy and Israel, have had trouble with unstable coalitions. But both of these countries have used extreme forms of proportional representation. Israel, for example, allows any party that gets more than about 1 per cent of the vote to win seats in their parliament. At times this low threshold has resulted in over a dozen parties in the Knesset, which has complicated the task of governing. However, most other PR

countries use more moderate forms of PR that have a higher threshold and fewer parties. Germany has a five per cent threshold that results in a workable legislature of 3-5 parties. This moderate PR is what supporters are advocating for the Canada and the U.S. The mixed PR system has become increasingly popular during the last decade. It was first used in Germany, and variations of it are now being used by many of the new democracies in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, such as Russia, Lithuania, and Hungary. This system also was chosen by voters in New Zealand in 1994 to replace their traditional American-style, winner-take-all system. The mixed member system is a combination a single-member district system with another form of PR called the party-list system. Voters

would be given a double ballot on which one part of the ballot is very much like what we have in Canada, where single candidates from each party vie to become the one representative to the legislature from a small geographic district. On the other part of the ballot, voters then vote for the party of their choice. The rationale behind this ballot is to allow voters to choose an individual local representative, and also to ensure that all parties get their proportional share of legislative seats. To do this, the winners of the district elections are given one half of the seats in the legislature. If there are 200 seats in the legislature, 100 are filled by these district winners. The party list portions of the ballots are then counted to calculate the percentage of seats each