Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Sehr witziges YouTube-Video unter dem Titel Rhabarberbarbara

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Coalition Infighting Leads Merkel to Flirt with the Greens

A very interesting article in today's Spiegel International suggests that "Angela Merkel's coalition of conservatives and the pro-business FDP is looking unhappy and brittle after three months of infighting. Merkel is responding by sounding out future alliances with the Greens. A major state election in May could provide the chance for a major new experiment in German politics".

Read the whole article here.

It neatly brings me back to one of my favourite subjects: proportional representation.

Proportional representation

A Leicester Mercury reader submitted a letter outlining the benefits of proportional representation. I'm taking the liberty of quoting it here, in case the link 'dies' at some point in the future:

Virtues of PR voting system
Posted: February 17, 2010

JT Bingham (Mailbox, February 11) makes the case for the alternative vote system which the Government has promised to introduce as an option in a referendum, if it wins the election.

He admits, however, that it is not a proportional system, as promised by New Labour as an option before the 1997 election. AV perpetuates the distortions of our present voting system, which can give huge unearned majorities and does not accord the same value to every vote.

JT Bingham clearly does not understand that proportional voting systems, such as STV and AVplus, also involve ranking candidates in order of preference, a virtue which he claims only for AV.

Contrary to his claims, these systems do give a fair chance to smaller parties and individual candidates. Unlike AV, they really do make tactical voting unnecessary.

JT Bingham says proportional voting systems are "contrived". What does he mean? They are designed to give the same value to every vote and a fair chance to every candidate. AV and the present voting system have a built-in bias toward certain large parties (at present toward Labour). Are they not "contrived"?

JT Bingham also opposes proportional voting systems because he claims they would lead to coalition government. This is ironic when our present system seems likely to lead to a coalition this year!

Coalitions can force parties to look for common ground with other parties, thus satisfying the wishes of more of the voters, and to try to work together. It was a coalition Government which presided over winning the war in 1939-43! And coalitions in the Scottish Parliament have in my opinion done a good job for the people.

It is deplorable that after 12 years of inaction, the Government is now only offering us a single choice of a new voting system – one which is no fairer that the present one. However, I would support it as the first step, which would then need only a further adjustment to make it truly proportional.

C Johnson, Leicester.

I couldn't resist leaving a comment, pointing to my previous blog entry on the subject, although in the meantime my comment seems to have disappeared from the Mercury website. Oh well.