Gerrymandering has destroyed much of the legitimacy of the American electoral system.
In Great Britain, the winner-take-all rule and a multi-party system have done much the same thing.
Queen Elizabeth II presides over a patchwork of political strongholds that put the lie to any common sense notion of democracy.
Probably you heard that the British Conservative Party won control of Parliament in a national election last week, sending 331 MPs to fill more than half of the 650 seats in the House of Commons that represents Britain, Scotland and Ireland.
Probably you didn’t hear this:
In Great Britain, the Parliamentary candidate who gets the most votes in any district—a majority is not needed—wins the seat. If several candidates split the vote, a smallish minority of votes may be enough to win. Ballots with multiple candidates are common in Britain.
The Conservatives got only 37% of all votes cast. That’s not what would be called a mandate in any political system. The Conservative Party is strong in southern England, and weak elsewhere, including London. The Conservatives hold one seat in Scotland, and none in Ireland.
The Labour Party won 31% of the national vote. Its base is in London, the Midlands and England’s North regions. Like the Tories, Labour has one MP from Scotland.
The Scottish National Party is the powerhouse in Scotland. Although it took only 5% of the overall vote, the SNP won 56 of the 59 seats representing Scotland. It isn’t even on the charts anywhere else.
The UK Independence Party is a right-wing populist group that opposes British membership in the European Union and has no geographic stronghold. The UKIP received almost 4 million votes—more than twice as many as the SNP—but elected only one candidate to Parliament.
It what sense does Great Britain have a beneficent representative democracy? How often is the public good effectively served in the continuing turmoil of regional and political combat?
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2015 All rights reserved.