Let's improve our democracy, a work in progress (III)

This post is about three technicalities in representative democracy.

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The previous post in this series included the idea of specialised parliaments of small size; 20 to 40 MPs.

This seems to question the accuracy of representation, of course. Even a 40-member parliament could allocate seats only in 2.5% increments if every MP has the same voting weight.

Let's cut this short; I don't think that identical voting weight for all MPs is a necessity. Accurate representation is the necessity here.

There would be nothing wrong if one MP had the voting power of 675,475 votes and his seat neighbour had the voting power of 712,584 votes.

Even medieval or ancient math would have been able to cope with this in parliamentary practice. We should be able to cope with this tiny bit of complication in the age of spacefaring and particle colliders.

We should stop the approximate representation and begin with accurate numeric representation of the electorate. Every voter should have the same political weight.

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This does of course require a proportional representation. I do like the German system of a coupled majority vote and proportional representation. This is how it should be in my opinion:
Everyone has two votes; one for candidates (majority vote) and another one for parties (proportional representation). The votes of the losing candidates go into the pool of votes for their party. Not a single vote is lost while the advantages of both systems are combined.

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The next issue: The founders of the Republic feared a fragmented party landscape of special interest parties and the resulting problems in creating stable coalitions (the small parties would be able to blackmail the majority and thus distort representation).
The answer was a barring clause, a hurdle for parties; they need at least 5% share of the votes to join the parliament (save for a few rule exceptions). This served well to marginalize the fringe parties as well.

The result is of course the deletion of hundreds of thousands (afaik potentially up to 95%) of the votes. That was acceptable as an interim solution in the immediate post-war reconstruction period. I don't think that it's acceptable today.

Such barring clauses are typically about 2-10% in the Western World. As a very first step, I propose to lower the German barring clause to a lower value; let's say 2%.

As a second step I'd say that the deleted percentage of votes should be represented by a speaker who got elected by the barred parties. This speaker should read their statements to bills in the parliament (limited speaking time) and should always abstain from voting. He should also have the normal MP powers in regard to questioning the executive. This would still be a compromise, of course.

The speaker could also be turned into a one-man majority representative of the barred parties and candidates in order to further minimize the share of 'wasted' votes, to come closer to a perfect representation of the electorate.
That would require two of them, though. The barred parties tend to be either left or right wing and these wings rarely agree with each other. It would be pointless to unify them in one representative.

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The point of this blog post is again the desire for a more accurate representation of the electorate's political will through representative democracy. The present system (and pretty much every "democratic" systems in the world) is quite lax on this. The accuracy of representation was apparently no major issue at the time of the system's creation.
Today is a great time for fine tuning our systems. The historical custom of waiting with political reform until a crisis overcomes the inertia of the system is inferior in my opinion.



  1. While i agree with your view, and i think most people do the more pertinent question is how do you get reform without crisis? There isn't enough motivation/incentive to overcome the inertia. Not to mention the significant costs to one who tries to implement change. Just look at the current situation in France and the junior doctors in the UK.


    1. Another opportunity for a great reform comes after a long period of political stagnation, as in Germany and Austria after years of coalition rule of the two largest parties.

      Sadly, xenophobic right wingers with little political usefulness exploit this opportunity rather than people who want to push the country forward (instead of backwards).

    2. The problem is that if the those in power/opposition do not adapt/evolve if leaves the door wide open to those on the fringes to exploit. Not to mention it undermines their credentials to hold power in the first place. We have recently had one of the worst economic shocks for generations and have serious systemic problems with our(western) economies and yet there has been very little change to deal with the causes rather than just superficial efforts that reduce the effects.