You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Monday, September 22, 2003

What I meant by "the world's most representative electoral system" (at risk of sounding like a total anorak) is that the ACT and Tasmania both use the Hare-Clark system of optional-preferential proportional representation in multi-member electorates. This produces the best balance between reflecting the voters' choice among competing political parties, and the voters' choice among individual candidates. It's not as minutely proportional as the party-list systems used in countries like, say, South Africa (where there are 400 seats so that if a party polls 0.25% of the votes, anywhere in the country, it wins a seat; if it polls 10% of the votes, anywhere in the country, it wins 40 seats, and so forth). But then these party-list systems usually give voters little or not choice among individual candidates. The candidates at the top of each list are guaranteed to be elected (much like Senators in Australia).

Tasmania used to have five 7-member electorates, whereas the ACT has one 7-member and two 5-member electorates. However, Labor and the Liberals in Australia found the voters had a pesky habit of electing Green MPs, which made it difficult for one of the Big Two to win an absolute majority of seats, as is its constitutional right. Solution: reduce the number of seats per electorate from 7 to 5, which raised the threshold for winning a seat from one-eighth of the votes (12.5%) to one-sixth (16.66666667%). No, I don't like the Greens' policies either, but if one in ten or even (at their best) one in six of your fellow citizens decide to vote for them, it's wrong to pretend that they didn't.

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