Democracy is a terrible idea and it is totally unworkable in practice.
Pure democracy, that is.
True democracy in which everyone decides on everything would mean everyone would have to vote on every national, regional and local decision. Even if people only voted on life-or-death decisions, everyone would have to vote nationally on the siting of a zebra crossing on a main road in Orpington because anyone in the UK could drive along that road; anyone could be killed as a result of the decision. So everyone would have to decide. The country would seize up.
In the UK, we have Representative Democracy not pure democracy and we elect representatives for areas – local councils, national governments.
Or, rather, we do not.
We do not elect national governments in the UK.
We never have.
I’ve heard the most ridiculous knee-jerk pseudo-democratic bollocks talked about Proportional Representation and a lot of it is how it will “reflect voters’ views better”.
People say, “Ah, well, most of Britain’s Post War governments were elected by a minority of the voters – less than 51% of the population and/or the people who voted actually voted for those governing parties.”
NO government in the 19th or 20th or 21st centuries was EVER voted-in by ANY voter in the UK – because the UK system is to vote for local MPs, not for national governments.
If the ‘winning’ party were to win a majority of Westminster seats by narrow majorities in local elections and the losing parties were to win all their local seats by massive majorities, then obviously the national government would be elected by a very low percentage of the over-all UK population.
But that is not relevant. It would not alter the fact they had won the majority of seats in the country.
We do not vote for national governments. In General Elections, we vote locally and the party with most seats nationally forms a government. We vote for local MPs in local seats to (allegedly) represent their constituents’ views. Throw that tapwater out and you throw a whole family of babies out too.
In each of the local constituencies, the winner wins by a first-past-the-post system where the person with more votes than any other individual candidate wins. If a candidate gains 40% of the votes and the other four candidates have 30%, 20% and 10%, then he or she wins. This seems reasonable to me. Other people knee-jerk on the fact that the winning candidate has only 40% of the votes whereas the others combined have 60% of the vote.
So we should perhaps give the election to the guy who came third and who was the first choice of even fewer people???
That is what Proportional Representation does.
Proportional Representation spreads votes according to second and third and maybe – god help us – fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh choices to allegedly get a ‘fairer’ view of voters’ intentions.
Bollocks. Utter bollocks.
The outcome of Proportional Representation is to elect not the candidate whose policies and personality are most admired by most people, but to elect the candidate whose policies and personality are less disliked by more people. You may end up with everyone’s third or fourth bottom-of-the-barrel choice and not the individual candidate most favoured by the highest number of people.
Under Proportional Representation, elections are intended to include more smaller parties. In other words, to lessen the strength of the big parties and to result in more coalition governments. That is what has happened in countries which have tried it.
So what if no party nationally wins enough seats to form a government?
Whichever parties can join together to create a majority of seats will form the government. Inevitably, the parties which come first and second in the election are unlikely to form coalitions. At the last UK General Election, there was no chance of the Conservative and Labour parties joining together in a coalition. Both unsurprisingly tried to form a coalition with the third party, the Lib-Dems.
Proportional Representation never results in simple situations but, in a simple situation in which one party gets 45% of the seats nationally and other parties get 30%, 15% and 10%, it would make sense for the strongest party to form a coalition with the party which got 10%, thus combining together with 55% of the seats. The fourth party probably poses no long-term threat to the strongest party; the other parties are likely to be a greater long-term threat. Always form a coalition with the weakest possible partner. It’s how devious people play the final round in The Weakest Link on TV – they vote off their strongest opponent and play with their weakest opponent. It’s probably in The Art of War somewhere.
What this means in political practice (as in the present UK coalition between the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems) is that the weaker party will insist that some of its policies are adopted by the coalition government as part of the coalition deal.
So, in the four-party example above, the party with only 10% of the seats will see some of its policies adopted – but the party with 30% of the seats will not get any of its policies adopted.
The result is that a party which (in terms of seats won) the majority of people did not want to primarily see in power gains power.
The other alternative, if you have a party seat split of 40%, 35%, 16% and 9% of the seats, is that the second and third parties form a coalition – thus having 51% of the seats – and form the government. That is an entirely possible scenario and, in this case, the party which has more seats than any other party – 40% – does NOT form the government. The party which only got 16% of seats gains power.
That is not democracy, it is a bollocksed-up system which reflects voters intentions not more but less. It’s a system designed to give a better reflection of voters’ intentions which simultaneously creates weak government and is anti-democratic by giving power to less-well-supported parties.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
I cite Tony Blair, a man who, I believe, initially had good intentions but who fucked-up the country, fucked-up the constitution, was profoundly anti-democratic and ended up doing evil with what he believed to be good intentions.
Proportional Representation is the Tony Blair of political theories.