Proportional representation is no threat to political stability, new study finds
Proportional voting systems can produce greater political stability, a new study from Make Votes Matter has found. The electoral reform campaign group has analysed 50 years of politics in 17 parliamentary democracies to reach the conclusion.
Make Votes Matter looked at indices of political stability such as parliamentary term completion rates, ministerial turnover and party tenure in government. Across eight of the ten measures, Make Votes Matter says that countries with proportional voting systems ‘outperformed’ those using majoritarian systems (such as the UK’s).
The campaign group says that the example of New Zealand’s move from a first past the post system to a proportional one makes the case for electoral reform in the UK. According to its analysis, New Zealand has had greater political stability since 1996, when the country changed its electoral system, than in the preceding two decades.
According to Make Votes Matter, the study suggests that cultural or wider institutional differences contribute more to political stability than electoral systems. The group says that the study nevertheless refutes the myth that proportional systems sacrifice political stability.
Dylan Difford, the study’s author, said: “This report categorically debunks the idea that introducing PR would inevitably lead to more political instability. Contrary to the claims of opponents of electoral reform, the experiences of other comparable countries clearly show that you can have better representation without succumbing to political chaos.
“Choosing PR does not mean sacrificing stability – instead the choice is more whether you can tolerate millions of people’s votes having no impact on the outcome of elections.”
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Image credit: Element5 Digital – Creative Commons