Oznia, a blog of Israel things


~Hyper-proportional government by elan
February 24, 2009, 3:20 am
Filed under: opinion, politics | Tags: , , , , , ,

One of the strengths of the Israeli political system is its high degree of proportionality–the makeup of the knesset very closely resembles the relative success of the parties in the election. In the past 15 years, the Knesset has seen a massive shift in composition, marked by the weakening of the ‘big tent’ parties and emergence of single-issue campaigns that can muster enough votes to capture a few seats. In general, this has allowed the small parties hold coalitions hostage to their demands and topple the government. In fact, the average lifespan of a government has decreased markedly since the establishment of the State.

I would like to introduce for public debate and criticism a system I call ‘hyper-proportional government’. Each voter would be allowed to split his or her vote into a number of discrete parts, and cast fractional votes for different parties. These micro-votes would be tabulated as usual and the Knesset seats would be allocated in accordance with the results. Voters who currently cast their ballots for a one-issue party because of strong convictions or desires would have the opportunity to support all of their favorite positions instead of just one, and even support a major party.  Voters who currently choose large parties will have the chance to distribute some of their vote to smaller causes. I am not sure whether this would help concentrate power in the larger parties or not. Either way, it should help develop stronger coalitions. The new Knesset and coalition would be extremely representative of voter mandate, and thus ride the political winds more adeptly.

Please comment on this idea! Hopefully, I’ll be able to incorporate your suggestions and expand this idea further. I hope to address some of the technical considerations in a later article.

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2 Comments so far
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Prof. Zvi Artstein, a mathematician from the Weizmann institute thinks the same. He actually devised a system that can in affect achieve this goal even now with the current election mechanism, if it this system was adopted by the masses. In Israel, the voter is presented with many notes, each representing one party. The voter is expected to select only one note and place it in an envelope, and this is the vote.
Prof. Artstein takes many different notes, representing the different views he holds in the relevant proportions. For example, if he is 20% for party A, and also cares 10% for the cause put forward by party B, while the rest 70% would go to party C – he would take 2 A notes, 1 B note, and 7 C notes. Now he takes all these notes and shuffles them behind his back, randomly selecting one and placing it in the envelope. This forms his vote, and he claims he has no idea what he finally voted for. If everybody would actually do the same, the large number of voters would ensure that the different probabilities are represented correctly in the final vote.

Comment by Eli

Eli, thanks for letting me know about Prof. Artstein’s proposal. I didn’t know he had similar proposals.

I think the time is right to implement this system in a legal fashion. The voluntary system you brought up could be integrated into the law. The clamor for electoral reform provides an excellent opportunity to publicize this system.

Comment by elan




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