Saturday, September 26, 2009

Deutschland Decides 2009

With pan-European elections behind us, the second largest electorate in the EU will cast its votes this weekend. Angela Merkel should get a plurality of the vote, but with MMP in full force in Germany the results of the election could take awhile. The last time out, it took about a month for Merkel's right wing CDU to form a coalition with the left-wing SPD (the party of her predecessor Gerhard Schroder). This time it is expected that Merkel will either get close to or get the votes necessary to form an alliance with parties on the centre and right. German voters, however, won't know whether they'll get a right-left or right-centre coalition if they vote for Angela Merkel on Sunday. If that wasn't confusing enough, the electoral system is under fire for failing to be proportional enough. The economist explains:

"A quirk in the system could cast doubt over the poll’s overall fairness. If a party wins more districts in a state than the number of seats it ought to get according to its share of second votes, it keeps these “overhang seats”. This could happen in Baden-W├╝rttemberg. The constitutional court has demanded changes to this part of the electoral law by 2011."

Mix that with different candidates campaigning with different levels of intensity depending on whether or not they actually have to win a seat locally, and you start to see the joys of a proportional system. At any rate, by Halloween we should know the composition of the German government. It's simply shocking that Ontarians rejected a similarly wonderful system in 2007. If only they knew the joy of proportional representation.

1 comment:

Wayne Smith said...

Our current voting system would certainly not pass Germany's constitutional test of fairness. No German would be willing to settle for a system where a party with 38% of the votes will get to form a "majority" government.

Germans are horrified at the outside possibility that the group with the largest number of votes may lose the election. Here, it happens all the time and we just shrug.

Germans will end up with a coalition government that has the support of a majority of voters. Here, we consider it normal for one political party to have unlimited power, even though most people voted against them.

German politicians would not think of campaigning on the basis of personal attacks on each other. They know they will have to work with each other and share power after the votes are counted. Here, we engage in the politics of puffin poop.

That's why Germans are far more satisfied with their politics and their politicians than Canadians are.

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