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V. Which mixed system?

 

So, as we have seen that neither the majority rule electoral system nor the PR rule are adequate to the needs of France, we have to look for a solution in-between. The only one solution remaining is a mixed system combining elements of both.

So, let us first examine the proposal of the Balladur Commission with which we have started. The report of the Commission is not very precise but one thing is sure : it advocates a symbolic PR dose. It is argued that 20 to 30 deputies elected through PR will not changed the distribution of the seats dramatically on the one hand and that it will ensure a representation of each major political force on the other hand.[29] The first point of these two is perfectly true and it is why we are totally opposed to it. Representation of all the political parties is not only a matter of symbols but also of fairness. It is totally unfair that the MODEM party gat only three seats in the last parliamentary election while its candidate gat 18% of the votes in the presidential election which took place just a few months before. With the system proposed by Balladur, it would maybe get four more seats, but this would remain totally unfair.

Therefore, we believe that a more radical reform should take place.

The Balladur Commission was not the first one working on the reform of the electoral law. In 1993, the Vedel Commission had exactly the same task. This Commission has made two propositions. The first one is very similar to the Balladur Commission proposal : it consists on a small dose of PR. The second seems to be more interesting to us : it foresees a quota of seats reserved for parties disadvantaged by the majority rule. However, this system is to complicated and abstract, it is impossible to know what is a disadvantaged party exactly. And even if you define precisely this notion, you have to say exactly how to calculate this quota and how to distribute the seats of this quota among disadvantaged parties (what the Vedel Commission didn’t do). Even some members of the Commission confessed that they were lost in the proposed calculations.[30] This model seems to be unrealisable.

The former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing has proposed another solution. According to his model, deputies would be elected through PR in the departments inhabited by more than 1 000 000 people and all the others would be elected as presently. This solution seems to be attractive because it would ensure small departements to have representatives (which would not be the case with a purely PR system) and it would guarantee an important dose of PR.[31] However, it has important limits: a new kind of “Gerry Mandering” could be expected because some departments would certainly be divided and some others fusioned just for strategic purposes. Moreover, it would not be in accordance with one of the most important points of the Constitution saying that all the votes are equal.

So, the most attractive system according to us is the simplest of all the mixed models: the German one. In Germany, each elector has two votes. One vote is attributed to a party and another to a candidate from the constituency. 50% of the seats are filled by candidates elected on a PR basis, 50% are representatives of the constituencies.[32] This is the best solution, just in the middle between PR and majority rule system. If you say, that there will be a 10% dose of PR, it can always be manipulated because it is an uncertain random quantity: it can be reduced to 5% once and increased to 20% another time. And a 50/50 distribution seems to be fair because because it is a real compromise and therefore it could remain for a long time.



 

After a precise examination of all the possibilities, we can make a statement: all the electoral systems have important disadvantages and no one fits exactly the needs of France. The previous and present experiences of electoral systems in France are not glorious: they served partisan interests, whereas it should try to be in accordance with the question “who represents the people best?”.

Therefore, the majority rule electoral system in France is ill. There are huge manipulation concerning the delimitation of constituencies which varies from election to election. Moreover, there strong arguments against this model in general. But arguments against PR are as strong. Not only it can be a brake to effective governance but it can lead to under-representation of some regions. Moreover, this system gives a major power to parties because they establish the lists.

A mixed system seems to be the best solution. There are different models of mixed systems but the majority of them is complicated and can be manipulated. It is why the 50/50 German model is the best compromise according to us.

 

 

Bibliography:

Alexander, Gerard, France: Reform-mongering Between Majority Runoff and Proportionnality, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 209-221).

Ames, Barry ‘Electoral Strategy Under Open List Proportional Representation’, American Journal of Political Science, 39:2 (1995).

Carey, John, Shugart, Matthew, Incentives to Cultivate a Personal Vote: A Rank Ordering of Electoral Formulas, Electoral Studies, 14:4 (1995).

Colomer, Josep, Western Europe: General Overview, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 179-208).

Curtice, John, Shiverley, Phil, Who Represents Us Best? One Member or Many?, Working Paper No79, Centre for Research Into Elections and Social Trends (2000).

Duhamel, Olivier, Droit Constitutionnel et politique, Seuil (1994).

Dummet, Michael, Principles of Electoral Reform, Oxford University Press (1997).

Georgel, Jacques, France, in Hand, Geoffrey (edited by), European Electoral Systems Handbook, Butterworths (1979) (p.87-120).

Giscard d’Estaing, Valéry, Deux Français sur Trois, Flammarion (1984).

Julliard, Jacques, Les voleurs de voix, in Le Nouvel Observateur, 4/10 mars 1993.

Kaminski, Marek, Nalepa, Monika, Poland: Learning to Manipulate Electoral Rules, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004)(p.369-381).

Kreuzer, Marcus, Germany: Partisan Engineering of Presonalized Proportional Representation, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 222-236).

Samuels, David, Incentives to Cultivate a Party Vote in Candidate-Centric Electoral Systems: Evidence From Brazil, Comparative Political Studies, 32:4 (1999).

Stratmann, Thomas, Baur, Martin, Plurality Rule, PR and The German Bundestag: How Incentives to Pork Barrel Differ Across Electoral Systems, American Journal of Political Science, 46:3 (2002).

Zarka, Jean-Claude, Les systèmes électoraux, ellipses (1996).

http://www.lemonde.fr/web/articleinteractif/0,41-0,49-971363@45-4425,0.html

http://www.lesechos.fr/info/france/300214166.htm

http://www.money.pl/gospodarka/raporty/artykul/rok;politycznych;burz;i;skandali,254,0,210942.html

 


[1] http://www.lemonde.fr/web/articleinteractif/0,41-0,49-971363@45-4425,0.html.

[2] Colomer, Josep, Western Europe: General Overview, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 179-208).

[3] Dummet, Michael, Principles of Electoral Reform, Oxford University Press (1997), p. 8.

[4] Dummet, Michael, Principles of Electoral Reform, Oxford University Press (1997), p. 6.

[5] Duhamel, Olivier, Droit Constitutionnel et politique, Seuil (1994), p. 200.

[6] Dummet, Michael, Principles of Electoral Reform, Oxford University Press (1997), p.22.

[7] Duhamel, Olivier, Droit Constitutionnel et politique, Seuil (1994), p. 189.

[8] Alexander, Gerard, France: Reform-mongering Between Majority Runoff and Proportionnality, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 209-221), p. 209.

[9] Idem, p. 210.

[10] Ibidem.

[11] Georgel, Jacques, France, in Hand, Geoffrey (edited by), European Electoral Systems Handbook, Butterworths (1979) (p.87-120), p. 87.

[12] Alexander, Gerard, France: Reform-mongering Between Majority Runoff and Proportionnality, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 209-221), p. 214.

[13] Ibidem.

[14] Zarka, Jean-Claude, Les systèmes électoraux, ellipses (1996), p. 102.

[15] Curtice, John, Shiverley, Phil, Who Represents Us Best? One Member or Many?, Working Paper No79, Centre for Research Into Elections and Social Trends (2000), p. 23.

[16] Stratmann, Thomas, Baur, Martin, Plurality Rule, PR and The German Bundestag: How Incentives to Pork Barrel Differ Across Electoral Systems, American Journal of Political Science, 46:3 (2002), p. 8.

[17] Carey, John, Shugart, Matthew, Incentives to Cultivate a Personal Vote: A Rank Ordering of Electoral Formulas, Electoral Studies, 14:4 (1995), p. 418.

[18] Ames, Barry, Electoral Strategy Under Open List Proportional Representation, American Journal of Political Science, 39:2 (1995), p. 430.

[19] Putnam, Robert, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy, Princeton University Press (1993).

[20] Zarka, Jean-Claude, Les systèmes électoraux, ellipses (1996), p. 106.

[21] Georgel, Jacques, France, in Hand, Geoffrey (edited by), European Electoral Systems Handbook, Butterworths (1979) (p.87-120), p. 90.

[22] Ibidem.

[23] Alexander, Gerard, France: Reform-mongering Between Majority Runoff and Proportionnality, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 209-221).

[24] Alexander, Gerard, France: Reform-mongering Between Majority Runoff and Proportionnality, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 209-221), p. 212.

[25] Zarka, Jean-Claude, Les systèmes électoraux, ellipses (1996), p. 104.

[26] Julliard, Jacques, Les voleurs de voix, in Le Nouvel Observateur, 4/10 mars 1993.

[27] Kaminski, Marek, Nalepa, Monika, Poland: Learning to Manipulate Electoral Rules, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004)(p.369-381).

[28] http://www.money.pl/gospodarka/raporty/artykul/rok;politycznych;burz;i;skandali,254,0,210942.html.

[29] http://www.lemonde.fr/web/articleinteractif/0,41-0,49-971363@45-4425,0.html.

[30] Zarka, Jean-Claude, Les systèmes électoraux, ellipses (1996), p. 101.

[31] Giscard d’Estaing, Valéry, Deux Français sur Trois, Flammarion (1984), p.162-163.

[32] Kreuzer, Marcus, Germany: Partisan Engineering of Presonalized Proportional Representation, in Colomer, Josep, Handbook of Electoral System Choice, Palgrave (2004) (p. 222-236).


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