Majoritarian Electoral Systems vs. Proportional Representation
Through evaluations and comparisons of Proportional Representation and Majoritarian Electoral systems, it will be established that both can prove to be effective depending on the type of society in which either system is implemented but that, in the case of providing stability through social representation in new democracies, proportional representation is a better suited system. A majoritarian system works on the basis that there is always a clear winner after an election and thus the ruling party enjoys the great majority of parliamentary seats in order to ensure that they have a large degree of autonomous power (Norris, 2001: 301). The party with the majority seats can create a “manufactured majority” in plurality elections by exaggerating the number of seats which they were awarded (Norris, 2001: 301). The number of seats awarded in this regard as compared to the number of votes cast is significantly skewed. This system enables the ruling party to govern as an effective single party unit without having to contend much with other parties over decision-making. The emphasis of such a system is to provide a stable governing unit that functions effectively and decisively (Farrell, 2001). In proportional representative systems, the main idea is to provide for greater social representation by considering the demands and interests of all groups within a given society (Farrell, 2001). The number of seats awarded in parliament reflects more accurately the number of votes cast as the system attempts to establish a more equal society in terms of minority opinion and social representation (Norris, 2001: 303). The emphasis of this system is to ensure a stable political climate by catering for the demands of every sect of society. There are various advantages and disadvantages for each system. A governing body in a majoritarian system has a larger degree of autonomy than one in a proportional system, which allows for effective decision making without being hampered by having to consider the demands of minority groups. The theory behind majority single-party rule is that progress can thus occur at a faster pace which stimulates production and economic development, ultimately allowing for a more efficient society in which the basic needs of all groups within a society are effectively met. However, the above conditions will take place under the assumption that the government in place is an effective unit. Also, it has been observed that over the past few decades economic growth has, on average, occurred at a higher rate in proportional systems than in majoritarian ones (Lijphart, 1991: 80). Inflation is more or less on par and unemployment is also lower in proportional systems (Lijphart, 1991: 80). These findings work against the argument that majoritarian systems provide for more efficient progress than that of proportional reperesentation. The government in place also holds an extensively large amount of power and with that power comes greater accountability. The government in question solely shoulders the responsibility of effective governance as all other parties have little or no say in how the country is run. It thus becomes more likely that should expectations be failed to be met, that the government begins to lose legitimacy in the eyes of the people. This system also tends to alienate minority groups from society (Norris, 2001: 304). This can be to the detriment of a given society as minority groups that could possibly make significant contributions in terms of ideas or governance are not being heard. A further problem may arise in a society where an educated elite are a minority group in a society where the ruling party has been elected into power by an uneducated and ignorant majority (Wolff, 1996: 67). One of David Hume’s theories was that human beings generally will be more interested in immediate gratification than looking at the bigger picture (Wolff, 1996:...
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