robert adrian on Wed, 23 Feb 2000 21:23:36 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> binary political landscape

hi -

Conor McGarrigle wrote:

>What breaks down a two party political system is a proportional
>representative system of voting.
>Most European countries have a variant of PR. Countries that have
>a first past the post system ( like Britian) still have a two party system.

This seems to be an illustration of the way "first-past-the-post
2-partyism" can pollute the mind. Fact is: Britain is a 3 party system
(with a few also-rans). The reality of 1st-past-the-postism is that
the British Liberals/Social democrats consistently receive around
20% of the popular vote but are lucky to get more that a few seats
in parliament. This is what permitted Thatcher to (mis)govern Britain
with massive parliamentary majorities while never getting more than
about 40% of the popular vote ... and that on very low turnouts at
the polls.

>PR  is generally seen to be a fairer system that gives more representation
>to minority parties.

Well, fair or not fair - proportional representation does make every
vote count. This is probably part of the reason that more people
take the trouble get out and vote in countries with PR. The recent
crisis in Austrian politics is at least partly accounted for by the
extremely low turnout in the last election - under 80% - which was
considered a national scandal. A turnout of over 70% in the U.S.
would be cause for amazed jubilation.

And while we're talking Austrian politics let me add that, for all the
hysteria about the "victory" of the FPO, the actual increase in the
number of votes cast for the party of Herr H. was really quite
small. The "victory" was "proportional": Most of the people who
stayed home were SPO (socialist party) voters dissatisfied with the
dismal policies of the SPO in the previous SPO/OVP (Christian
Democrats) coalition. Oddly the REAL winners were the Greens who
had a dramatic increase in their share of the vote, mostly at the
expense of the SPO. There may be lessons here for the
Blair/Schroeder 3rd-way middle-of-the-roaders ...

______________robert adrian_____________

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