John Davidson who comments as John D has been interested for some time in alternative electoral systems. Stimulated by discussion on Mark’s recent thread John has fine-tuned a system he has been working on. There’s a lot to like about the principles embodied in the system he has devised. I like the notion of having a local member who is in the Government as well as a non-government local MP. I like the notion of taking marginal electorate politics out of play. I’m impressed with the lateral thinking.
His example is based on reshaping Queensland’s 89 member parliament into a parliament with 30 electorates, each with two members, plus 29 floating members. Minority opinion gets a gig at a very low threshold, but doesn’t have the potential of exercising undue influence in a balance-of-power sense. John has provided the following introductory remarks, to a link post on his own site where the scheme is outlined.
The last federal and Qld elections each in their own way highlighted problems with election systems based on single member electorates. Problems with these systems include:
- Provide no guarantee that the party that wins the 2PP vote will form government.
- Can have results distorted by the location of electoral boundaries or geographical distribution of supporters.
- Tend to give the parties with high primary votes a disproportionate share of the members.
- Voters in marginal electorates have far more influence than those in safe electorates.
- Not all voters will be represented by a member of the government. This can make it harder for these voters to influence government decisions.
- Incumbent members have an advantage over challengers.
In this post John Davidson looks at an alternative system based on a particular combination of two member electorates and floating (statewide) members. The proposed system guarantees that:
- The party that wins the 2PP will form a stable government on its own with the power to raise the funds it needs to do the job.
- The system will provide Senate style checks and balances unless the government has a majority in its own right. This would only happen if there had been a very strong vote in the government’s favour (such as occurred in the 2012 Qld election.)
- There will be a viable opposition.
- The result will be fairer to minor parties.
- Independents with strong local support can still become members.
- Each electorate will have one government and one non-government member.
- The votes in every seat are equally important.
Most important of all, the location of electoral boundaries and the geographical distribution of party supporters have no effect on who wins government and a limited effect on the number of seats won by each of the non-government parties.