Saturday, February 19, 2005
Iraq's election should be a lesson on proportional representation
The election in Iraq where the Shia parties with just a hair under a majority of the vote earned less than a majority of the seats in the assembly and lots of other parties have representation - not just one other party - should teach us about the advantages of proportional representation. They did not slice up their nation into hundreds of small political districts where a single person gets elected from the district and the minority of voters in each district get left out without representation. Instead the whole country faced the same ballot with the same list of parties. And for every percent of the vote a party earned they receiced another percent of the seats in the assembly. That is a far more inclusive election than what we do in the United States where only two parties get any representation even though a third of the electorate identifies as independent or a third party supporter. We leave too many voices outside of the seat of government. And in every democracy that we have helped to set up - Germany, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq - we set up proportional representation, not our one-person districts. Maybe we ought to reconsider whether one-person representation is the best way to go in the U.S.