SMILING CARCASS'S TWO-PENNETH

Commenting on social, political, economic and general topics

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION- IS IT REALLY MORE DEMOCRATIC?

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There has been a lot of talk recently about the need for electoral and parliamentary reform.

I have an idea that I believe would be simple to instigate and virtually cost free. It would bring some real democracy to parliament and allow members of the house the individual freedom that all politicians claim is a basic human right.

On many issues, MPs vote according to his/her conscience or according to his/her constituents’ wishes. However, there are circumstances where MPs are forced to vote according to party policy.

And these circumstances tend to be votes on the most important issues.

If we consider that MPs tend to agree with the policy of the party of which they are members, we can assume they will generally vote in accordance with that parties’ policy. In the instances where the party whip is used to ensure MPs vote ‘correctly’ we can reasonably assume enough MPs disagree with the policy to vote against it and thus endanger its’ success. In these circumstances it is not just MPs freedoms that are restricted by the party whip, but parliament’s and by extension the wishes of the people. It removes the right of an individual to practice the democracy their party lays claim to.

So if we remove the party whip (not in the political sense, in the ‘real world’ sense of stop using it) and allow MPs to vote freely on all subjects, they will mostly vote within the policy dictates of their party, which presupposes it is in accord with the wishes of the people that elected them. Where party policy is opposed to an individual’s beliefs, he or she should have the freedom to vote according to conscience which we all hope is in accord with the constituents that elected them.

There is some debate that a change in the electoral system to proportional representation or a similar system of voting would call into question the constitutional rights and responsibilities of the monarch to dissolve parliament or to invite a party leader to form a government. While this may be a good thing, and I tend to this view I am also aware that it could also cause constitutional complications from which the democracy we currently enjoy might never recover. Put simply, we may, contrary to the popular assumption, leave ourselves open to a much less democratic system of government. Simply giving an elected representative of the people the right to vote according to his/her conscience or the wishes of his/her constituents, I believe would bring about some real democracy without the expense and complications associated with constitutional electoral change.

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Written by Smiling Carcass

16/05/2010 at 3:37 PM

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