Electoral reform in Germany and Canada: Lessons from the 2004 Canadian and the 2005 German election

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Diaspora want their voices heard - so why must they fall silent at the ballot box? Brexit postmortem: Vote highlights the danger of referendums. Despite a mixed legacy, there's life in the old Soldiers of Destiny yet. Making this work will test Kenny and FG to their limit. FG and FF have been in decline for decades so collaboration is a must. Dummy's guide to election count: Quotas, surpluses and tallymen. Election off to a dull start with no clear winner following debate. Politicians are gearing up for a short, sharp battle for power. The next election must be about political reform.

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Electoral reform in Germany and Canada: Lessons from the 2004 Canadian and the 2005 German election

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Westminster-style party solidarity and partisanship endure. The political culture, including a bipolar mindset reflected in media coverage and expectations, has not changed.

Theresa Reidy

There is no evidence of German or Scandinavian-style inter-party collegiality outside coalitions. The prime minister and his or her party have dominated coalitions that place small parties in hostage situations. If they prove agreeable, they look irrelevant and superfluous. Accordingly, small parties now choose to retain their identity and remain outside co-opting coalitions. Prime Minister Helen Clark manages her minority by negotiating with small parties on an issue-by-issue basis.

With no majority party, parliamentary committees operate more collegially. They also provide a forum for open inter-party bargaining. Claim: Minority and coalition governments provide enhanced responsiveness and accountability to the public. This is as it should be, as policy makers should respect public opinion continuously and not only near elections. In New Zealand, governments can still implement their platforms without risking an early election.

Clark prefers this approach to the two-bloc alternative that would strand her farther left, too far from the desirable middle ground. Their semi-detached nexus may benefit Labour and small parties alike. Claim: PR encourages greater voter turnout by convincing supporters of all parties that their vote matters. Parties of the left will benefit most from increased participation at elections.

In New Zealand, turnout has fallen in recent elections. PR apparently has increased votes for left parties, perhaps by convincing left-inclined voters that they finally enjoy efficacy.