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First PR vs. single member. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages as to democratic legitimacy. In the former you get a better representation of the parties the voters want and you don't get situations where multiple parties give you winners with well under 50% of the vote. However, all is not perfect in PR. PR tends to create coalition governments where small but crucial minority parties get outsized power and influence since the big parties have to get their support - classic examples are the FDP in Germany and the religious parties in Israel. The alternative is a grand coalition type situation like you currently have in Israel and might well have in Germany. Furthermore, a PR system gives a huge amount of power to the unelected internal party leadership. It is very dangerous to go against your party leaders in a PR system since they can make sure you will lose your seat in the next election, regardless of what the voters might think of your actions.
As to getting some of the far left groups to start cooperating with the moderates - not realistic. The two groups strongly dislike each other, and for good reason. People like myself often find the mainstream right preferable to the extreme left. The extreme left on the other hand has made it clear it prefers allowing the right to win rather than seeing social liberals in power.
But, just for the record, this is what it would take for me in Germany. A transformation of the PDS so that the majority of its functionaries and activists are no longer ex-SED - in other words, get rid of most of the people currently in it. In the West, get rid of Lafontaine and anybody else who is basically NPD lite.
In France - get rid of people who think that full blown socialism needs to be established, and anyone who likes the idea of a sudden radical transformation of society - the grand soir types. Get rid of the xenophobia.
So you could argue with Juergen Trittin is/was in power for the last couple of years.
They were just not socially radical and politically stron enough
Of course, this way you get independents being elected on local issues who then proceed to have disproportionate power.
Democracy: the worst system of governance except for all the rest.
Laws regarding citizenship and nationality are based on ethnicity in Germany, and thus immigration policies become racist, too. Nevertheless, if you look how much even immigrants, who are "ethnically correct Germans, i.e. "Auslandsdeutsche" with German anchestors like "Russian" Germans, are discriminated against in Germany today, rhetoric used by Lafontaine is unforgivable. I got a very distinct taste of that kind of resentments against even the "true white German-anchestry immigrants" on my last two trips to Germany in my hometown, so it's not just racist against the non-white immigrants, it's against immigrants, plain and simple. I wonder how LaFontaine could have sunken to deeply so cheaply. Originally he might just have been concerned with true economic issues. Oh well, here goes the neighborhood.
Good observation. And a small religious party in Israel which got 3% of the vote and has 1-2 Parliament members can walk away and cause a collapse of the government. It causes instability.
2. Furthermore, a PR system gives a huge amount of power to the unelected internal party leadership.
Party officials who get to do backroom deals have disproportionate amount of power.
3. Your economic or social or political program gets watered down, because you have to compromise, give-and-take. The alternative is you let the other guy implement his policies and if they don't work, you win the next election and get your shot at it.
Not quite so much in New Zealand. Yes, our first election under PR led to a populist anti-immigrant party playing the two main parties off against one another - but the backlash against that sort of behaviour almost destroyed them. Since then, our minor parties have been a lot more reasonable in their expectations.
Of course, we're only on our 4th PR election, and we're still really getting used to it.
Furthermore, a PR system gives a huge amount of power to the unelected internal party leadership.
This IMHO is the really big flaw, as it utterly stifles internal dissent. Imagine Tony Blair under MMP; he wouldn't have to worry about any backbench rebellions, because he'd simply ensure that the list was packed with his supporters.
In NZ we have a further criticism: that by virtually guaranteeing coalition government, PR stops parties from "getting things done" and enacting "necessary" reforms. This is voiced almost solely by relics from the neo-liberal era, who used FPP's "elected dictatorship" to ram change through without consultation (or even announcing that that was what their party stood for at election time), and who still haven't got the message that that's precisely why we wanted it in the first place.
No Right Turn - New Zealand's liberal blog
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