Friday, August 11, 2006

PropRep Follies

Know how the Proportional Representational wonks are always hyping PR as the solution to low voter turnouts? Here's Amos Elon in the New York Review of Books of June 22, 2006 on the most recent Israeli election:

"In a country where as a rule some 80 percent vote, abstention reached an all-time high, almost 40 percent; the abstainers were thought to have mostly been young people fed up with the vacuity and all too frequent corruption of politicians in recent years and by the glaring defects of Israel's proportional electoral system. [emphasis added]"

Then there's Turkey, one of the middle east's few democracies, also saddled with proportional representation. Like most PR countries, it has a threshold to prevent really minor parties from getting seats. In a recent election, there were so many crackpot factions running that only two got more than the threshold. Result: the party with 30% of the vote got 60% of the seats, and the party with 20% of the vote got the other 40%. Yeah, fair voting, right. No wonder New Zealanders want to go back to first-past-the-post.
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