Directory:Article Purgatory/Proportional Representation of the Views of the Electorate

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Proportional Representation of the Views of the Electorate (PR-V) is a conjectured voting system that aims to achieve a representational match between the 'views' of the electorate and the number of elected candidates that represent those views.

This differs from traditional proportional representation (PR) electoral systems that aim to achieve a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates obtain in elections, and the percentage of seats they receive.

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As with PR this requires multi-member electorates, but it differs from PR by requiring mutual independence between the representatives. Candidates can either represent a political party or be independent, but within each electorate the number of candidates that each political party can nominate a strictly limited, for instance to a single candidate.

Parliamentary Applicability

Principally applicable to legislative houses of parliament rather than executive, in bicameral systems where executive power is wielded from one house (eg the lower house in Australian, Canadian and British federal parliament), PR-V will be most suited to the house of legislative review (the upper house, or Senate).

For legislative houses PR-V is effective because the mutually independent parties will tend to vote on each item of legislation in accordance with their stated political platform, and hence in accordance with the views of the people.

For executive houses PR-V (like all PR systems, and in contrast to instant runoff or first past the post elections) would not produce an effective governing majority.

Impact on Executive Houses of Parliament

In countries where executive power is wielded in a PR assembly, executive government is typically centered around a minority party in coalition with other parties or independents. This is frequently an unstable form of executive government, and at all times the larger (and hence more representative) parties in the coalition are held hostage to the smaller coalition partners.

Rationale

One significant drawback of PR is that centrist parties can receive the vast majority of elected candidates without any of them having a majority, while peripheral minor parties control the balance of power either through the formation of coalitions or on a vote-by-vote basis. Both characteristics are detrimental to representative government.

Political parties of course are a fact of life in the electoral arena, and it is common for party leaders to hold a vise-like grip over the voting patterns of their elected members, 'toeing the party line' has become 'de rigeur'. This means that centrist parties with large minorities control close to 50% of the votes in the house, while representing the views only of the leader.

The second characteristic is equally unrepresentative, where minor parties representing a very small percentage of the views of the electorate control the balance of power and hence have disproportionate legislative power.

Electorates and Voting Methods

In order to limit blocs of truly minor parties from having a disproportionate capability as a balance of power, the number of positions in each multi-member electorate should be limited, for example between five and ten or so. This is the distinctly different from the situation in Israel where the entire country is a single electorate.

The improved representative nature of the PR-V system over standard PR is based on restricting the influence of individual political parties to a pre-determined maximum, for example one seat in a multi-member constituency of between five and ten (the district magnitude), or two seats in a multi-member constituency of between ten and 15. In any one election, preferential voting (eg STV) would improve the accuracy of the proportionality and encourage the evolution of independent parties with unique and clearly stated principles and policies, even if these views significantly overlap those of other similar parties.

Applicability

Applicable to any country, state or province where there is (or is a need for) a democratically elected house of review and where the views of the electorate are not being sufficiently well represented.

  • First world countries including Australia, Canada, Italy and Israel that are dominated by a very small number of large centrist parties and the balance of power is held by minority parties with otherwise almost insignificant representation.
  • Developing countries including Bolivia, Fiji which demand better representation for the native population
  • Emerging democracies like Iraq and Afghanistan where there are no established party lines and hence inappropriate power struggles emerge on religious or racist lines.

Evolution

To get an idea of how parties could be differentiated, take a very small number of political issues, each with a very small number of preferred alternative positions, and the corresponding number of unique viewpoints can become very large. As an example,

  • Three alternative positions on healthcare funding are (1) socialized free healthcare; (2) a public healthcare system bolstered by privately insured healthcare offering superior service; and (3) user-pays;
  • Three alternative perspectives on corporate regulation could be (a) less regulated capitalism; (b) leave regulation as-is; and (c) greater protection for workers;
  • Three alternative perspectives on taxation and government spending could be (i) tax and spend; (ii) borrow and spend; and (iii) reduce spending.

Three issues with three viewpoints could lead to 27 different party platforms, although it is reasonable to generalise that union members would universally support socialized healthcare and free market supporters would oppose it, but that still leaves 20 unique viewpoints, without even exploring the diversity of opinions on the environment, education, welfare, and foreign policy.

In a legislative electorate with a district magnitude of seven, electing one candidate from the seven most popular parties would provide a superior representation of the views of the electorate than electing three each from the top two, and one from the most popular marginal party.