September 18, 2005

The Case Against Proportional Representation

The German election makes it well.

The Christian Democrats (CDU) underperformed their poll numbers, while the FDP, an economic-liberal party (in the classical sense-- what Americans would recognize as economically conservative), overperformed. Thus the breakdown is roughly 35% for the CDU, 34% for Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats (SPD), 10% for the FDP, and around 8% each for the Green Party and the (not-so-)ex-Communist Left Party.

The parties of the left could form a ruling coalition, but the SPD has ruled out working with the loony Left Party. Some analysts are predicting a "grand coalition" of the SPD and CDU, headed by CDU leader Angie Merkel and faced with utter gridlock-- the anti-American SPD might score the foreign ministry despite Merkel's pro-Americanism. The Christian Democrats are are ruling out such a coalition, while the FDP has ruled out another idea, a weird "traffic light coaltion" -- red for the SPD, yellow for the FDP, and green for the Green.

Thus, someone will have to renege on one of these pledges and form a coalition government too unwieldly to govern effectively, or they'll have to immediately hold another election.

Remember this the next time some Europhile fool sings the praises of this system.

Posted by John Tabin at September 18, 2005 06:17 PM

Leider der CDU/CSU Mussen auf die Gruene rufen um eine Reguring zu formen. Es wird nicht leicht werden abur Frau Merken kann nichts anderes tun--und sie musse! Es ist die Zeit fuer der SPD zu geh!!

Posted by: David S. Levine at September 18, 2005 10:20 PM

Your indictment of proportional representation seems unduly harsh. Firstly, the German system is purely proportional GIVEN the very significant caveat of the 5% threshold for representation. Secondly, the electoral system is not entirely to blame; don't forget the increasing fragmentation of the party system, which is in fact a Europe-wide trend. The results of elections are due to the crucial interaction between electoral system and party system.

Posted by: Y J at September 21, 2005 01:59 PM

The electoral system creates the party system, not the other way around.

Posted by: Blue at September 21, 2005 05:17 PM