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May 28, 2002

Proportional Democracy

Larry Kestenbaum expressed his skepticism of proportional representation as a solution to the problem of gerrymandering, noting the "Japan's Diet (national legislature), and the Illinois House of Representatives in 1870-1980, offer two appalling examples." It's kind of rhetorical dirty pool to cite possibly the two worst examples on earth (throw in the old Italian system to make it a trifecta), when there are numerous honest and well-functioning proportional systems around the world. In fact, purely single-member district systems as in the US are in the distinct minority- see here.
...My favorite system is actually the one used in Germany and New Zealand, a system that elects half the legislature through single districts but then allocates the rest of the seats to reflect the percentage of the vote received by each party. What this means is that while a party might gain on the individual districts through gerrymandering, it would automatically lose a cooresponding number among the proportional seats. I also like the system because it balances local concerns, best done through member districts, and the national issue concerns, better done through proportional seats. Check CVD for more on PR systems.

Posted by Nathan at May 28, 2002 11:37 AM


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