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Do Smaller Parties Have too much Power under Proportional Representation?

September 15, 2016

Some academics have been arguing that smaller parties have too much power under Proportional Representation. The trouble with many academics is that they approach subjects from a very narrow point of view. In particular in this case they forget that in a democracy politicans and political parties should serve the public rather than vice versa.

In the democracy the government should be implementing policies which enjoy the support of a majority of the people. Under proportional representation that means broadly that the policy should be supported by a majority of MPs. If a major party does not secure an absolute majority, but has to rely on a smaller centre party in order to govern, then surely the larger party should be required to modify its programme to meet the concerns of the smaller party.

A major party should avoid allying itself to a populist party which has no constructive policy but plays on the fears and prejudices of the ill informed. If it has to ally with one of its traditional opponents it should do so. It should also be remembered that support for a populist party can be a symptom of incompetent or corrupt government. Single issue parties should be viewed in the same light.

On the other hand a constructive radical party can introduce much needed new thinking. The German Greens were in government for a while, following which Germany became much more environmentally conscious. This did not adversely affect the economy; in fact I would argue that Germany’s economy is much more soundly based than Britain’s.

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From → Democracy

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