Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Keep our Westminster Democracy

. Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Be very afraid that Gordon Brown, who is desperate and whose Labour party is frantically trying to avoid obliteration at the next general election, is now flailing about with electoral reform plans, including apparently, PR, on the false pretence of democratic principle. Egad is all I can say about that. The Tories need to immediately stick a dagger through the heart of the Labour corpse before it does any more real lasting damage to that country's future. PR would be the end of the British nation as we know it.

If it is not already apparent to our beloved readers, The Monarchist is a supporter of our First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) system and an avowed enemy of Proportional Representation (PR). We should be wary of any leader who has lost sight of the reasons why we have a democracy, which is not to give voice to every Tom, Dick and Harry - for that path leads to tyranny of the masses over the rights of the individual - but to provide a means to preserve our ancient liberties.

If I was to look for a country who is furthest from losing sight of this crucial objective, I would look no further than Poland. Serious thinkers there have good reason not to believe in power to the people nonsense, for they have suffered too much for too long not to get it finally right. Go over to to read this excellent essay, for here is what Professor Jerzy Przystawa of the University of Wrocław has to say about PR:

PR creates “party states” and makes the political life of a country into a field of eternal and continuous battle among the political parties. It gives enormous privileges to parties and their leaders at the expense of citizen’s rights, it deprives the voters of any control over elected deputies, it eliminates then accountability of the MPs, and the political parties cease to be responsible for their actions. Such a system does not inspire confidence among voters, is conducive to large abstention from voting, and it does not allow any political party to win the parliamentary majority. In this way, the system enforces coalition governments, thus governments are weak, torn by continuous party battles among the members of the coalition. It exerts pressure on the state budget which weak governments cannot resist. This, in turn, deepens the budget deficit. As it has been proven on numerous examples of many countries, the system generates political corruption. The list could be continued.
So why pray, did the victorious Allies foist this failed, totally alien system onto the losing powers of the Second World War? Answer: Because we wanted to keep them politically and terminally weak:

It is worth reflecting on how the best democracies in the world, the United States, Great Britain or Canada and Australia built democracies in the countries under their domination and responsibility. What electoral systems were “suggested” to Japan, Germany, Italy or Austria? Or even France, their less than terribly responsible ally? Should one not be tempted to expect that all those established democracies would propose their own electoral systems as a model of democracy? Would it have been unreasonable to suppose that they should strongly advocate their electoral systems, of which they benefited so much?

As we know well, nothing of the sort happened. On the contrary: America and England, with the help of their Soviet ally, imposed on Japan, Germany and Italy electoral systems totally alien to their own, totally different from their ways of electing national parliamentary representation. Instead of the so well-functioning First-Past-The-Post (FPTP) majoritarian rule, they imposed on their defeated enemies the so-called Proportional Representation! We know that they did so against the will of some important politicians of those countries. For example, one of the major proponents of the European Community, Konrad Adenauer and his Christian Democrats, the CDU, intended to introduce the Westminster FPTP system in Germany, but the occupying powers had not agreed to that! There is little doubt that similar “good advice” was given to Japan and Italy. And, of course, it must not have been very difficult to persuade them: their trustful Soviet ally was certainly in favour of such a solution; the communist parties they created, especially in France and Italy, strongly supported the idea, and all the socialist illusions, prevailing all over Western Europe at that time, made the task so much simpler and easier. We are now entitled to analyse why electoral systems were so important to them.

I think there might be little doubt that the real reason for this was a sensible intention to make certain that the Japanese, German and Italian states, that were about to be rebuilt and reorganised, should be politically weak, unable to ever become a threat to the world again. And one efficient, civilised and “democratic” measure to achieve that was the so called Proportional Representation. The Soviets achieved similar effect by direct fraud, without going through any subtleties. The Western democracies embarked on a more sophisticated approach. Of the many “qualities” of PR, the most important of all was that PR weakens the state and thus prevents it from being a real competitor on the political arena.
In other words, why would we want such a system, do we now wish to be weak, poor and unfree? If our very best thought this back in 1945, if the world's strongest democracies have since maintained a fairly consistent track record of producing stable, reasonably free governments, if we have avoided the need for mainstream winners to form political coalitions with minor, fringe and lunatic parties that mass democracy, PR-style elections inevitably produce, why would we risk touching it with a ten foot pole today? Good question.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Which PR do you discuss? The term as it stands is too broad to be useful without qualification - PR may mean various systems. Mixed Member is used in some parts of the UK, some form of PR has been discussed in Canada. If we are to change, perhaps we should not completely abandon FTPT, instead adding Two-Round. Perhaps we could thus be rid of the BNP.

The Monarchist said...

I was thinking of PR in its purest form. Hybrid systems would obviously be better than pure PR, but I wouldn't be pushing a treatment of the matter. Meaningful reform for me would have to include empowering the Monarch - I'm more interested in putting a check on government, than increasing the players who can partake in its spoils.

Kipling said...

I simply could not agree with you more Monarchist. I would add that a great advance would be to have party leaders chosen by their caucus, as it once was. Another check on the party machine. Empowering the Monarch could make the Crown political, it's a bit dicey there.

Eduardo Amado y Brea said...

This is the most terrible notice I have read in the last months! I am from a country with a pure PR system, Spain, and you do not know how bad PR can be; yes, even worst than you imagine. It is necessary to get this people out from n10.

Stauffenberg said...

I am from Germany where PR is being operated and it is a bloody awful pest!
FPTP means stable majorities and for anyone in power it can be a salutary risk to be flattened at the next election.

Under PR the way it is operated here, there are coalitions where the power of smaller parties is disproportionately high. On top of that, just half the seats in parliament are really won by representaives, the other members are voted in through party lists based on the overall performance of their party as opposed to the real share of votes in any individual constituency. So a safe place on that list guarantees a seat, not what you do or don't do. My constituency used to have three MPs - one who got elected and two who were lucky to find themselves on positions on their respective party lists that were covered by the percentage of votes. Doesn't sound too fair to have three MPs in one constituency and one in the next, does it?

This nonsense has been defended by many because FPTP is allegedly discriminatory against small groups. However, for the first time individual Greens and Postcommunists have managed to win constituencies in Germany. I disagree with them politically, but I am delighted nonetheless. The case for PR can be dismissed more easily, viz. if they can win seats directly, everyone can. They just have to work for it and that is why few career politicians will ever return from PR, once established, to FPTP.

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