28th April 2018

Electoral Systems

For a new Consensual Presidential Democracy (CPD) to work there must be a new electoral system. What follows on is the result of the analysis of most electoral systems in the world. Although the criteria for the selection of the electoral system were firmly linked to the overall objectives of managing global existential risks by a de facto World Government – i.e. the federated European Union, they could be applied to individual countries.

According to the principles of CPD, the legislation at a federal (central) level will have to be passed with maximum consensus between the parties and between the chambers of the Parliament, somewhat similar to the system in use in Scandinavia and Switzerland. The whole electoral system is tuned with that objective, favouring the creation of coalitions, rather than a ‘strong’ single party rule.

The EF Parliament will consist of two Houses:

  • The Lower House – the Citizens’ Chamber, where the MPs will be elected by all citizens of the EF
  • The Upper House, consisting of two chambers. The first Chamber is the Senate, to which member states will elect their own representatives using the same system as for the election of MPs. The second chamber will be a Sortition Chamber, to which representatives from member states will be selected using a system of sortition.

The participation in the election will be mandatory, against a penalty equal, for example, to the penalty for a parking offence. Among the long-standing democracies that make voting compulsory in elections are Australia, Belgium, and Luxembourg. Other well established democratic nations – The Netherlands in 1970 and Austria more recently – repealed such legal requirements after they had been in force for decades. Mandatory voting is also used in Latin America. Examples there include Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Ecuador. In some countries voting has been made compulsory at the discretion of sub-national governments, or is applied only to certain types of elections.

The most common objection on normative grounds is that citizens ought to have the right NOT to vote, as much as the right to vote, while the real reason why many people fail to vote is borne out of apathy. Some opponents of the compulsory voting in Australia claim that such voting frees political parties from their responsibilities to campaign and energize the voters. This state of affairs, they say, favours the established parties over the minor parties and independents, whose supporters are less likely to be motivated to vote. In addition, compulsory voting carries a significant administration cost for the state. Finally, there are arguments against compulsory voting questioning the accuracy of the voters’ list, voter information, and the mechanisms for the follow-up fine or punishment system for non-voting citizens.

These are rather poor arguments. First of all, if the voting is done digitally, as proposed below, then the administration and penalty involved would be cheap to execute. Secondly, on a moral ground, participation in elections should be considered not just a right but also an obligation as a kind of evidence of common heritage and common future that needs to be shaped by all of us for the benefits of the current and the future generations. After all, we are forced to do many things that the state requires us to do, like for instance to fight in the war, not to smoke in public places, etc. for an identical purpose, to keep us together safer and more prosperous.

There will be a multi-party system in the EF with four types of electoral systems: for the Citizens Chamber, the Senate, the President, and for referenda and petitions. No electable mandate can extend beyond two five-year terms.

Proportional representation will be applied for the election of the candidates to the Citizens Chamber of the Parliament of the EF, local elections and for the election of the President using Two-Rounds System. The MPs will be elected by the voters from one-mandate constituency (district). Party lists will not be allowed, in order to maintain closer link between the voters and their representative.

Direct democracy will be applied in the sortition system, described below and in petitions. No referenda will be carried out, since they will be substituted by Sortition Assemblies. Petitions will allow any group of citizens to challenge any law approved by the parliament at any time, and even propose modifications of the EF Constitution. For other matters, national or local Sortition Assembly would be called with a detailed explanation of pros and cons on a given matter, since matters at a local level are much better understood where the decision is to be applied.

Proportional representation will be applied for the EF President, the election of the candidates to the Citizens Chamber, Representatives Chamber in the Senate and in local elections according to the following principles:

  1. The EF electoral system is a multiparty system
  2. Casting of votes will be carried out using mainly digital voting (Internet-based or using a terminal at a polling station), although postal voting will be allowed in exceptional circumstances.
  3. They will be supervised by an EF Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)
  4. Every eligible voter will have to register an email address with the IEC, which will have its own domain, specifically created for elections, e.g. www.voting.el.eu. Thus Joe Blogs email address, which can only be used for electoral purposes, might be: joe.bloggs@el.eu
  5. All seats to the Parliament, or to a local council, will be contested in a one-mandate constituencies (districts) to preserve the closest link possible between the voter and their representative
  6. There will be strict rules for carrying out election campaign, including the amount of donations allowed, time on state media etc.
  7. To become a candidate to the Parliament or to a local council, the only requirement will be to get a sufficient no. of supporting signatures, e.g. 1% of eligible votes. The signatures will be collected via email only through the IEC website. A voter will be able to support only one candidate, which will be automatically controlled by the IEC website
  8. The election will be carried out in two rounds. In the first round, First Past the Post system will be used, when candidates will be scored according to the percentage of the votes received. If one of the candidates receives 50% plus 1 vote, he is the winner and there is no need for the second round. If none of the candidates scores more than 50% votes then the second round of voting is carried out in two weeks’ time
  9. The candidates who scored more than 20% +1 of the votes in the first round go through to the second round. Therefore, in theory, up to 4 candidates may compete in the second round. That should enable smaller parties, minorities and individual MPs to represent their voters in the federal or local law-making bodies. The voting in the second round will use the Alternative Vote (AV) system, also called a preferential plurality/majority system. Under this system, the voters rank the candidates in the order of their choice, by marking a ‘1’ for their favourite, ‘2’ for their second choice, etc. A candidate who receives an absolute majority (50 per cent plus 1) of valid first preference votes is declared elected. If no candidate achieves an absolute majority of first preferences, the least successful candidates are eliminated and their votes reallocated according to the second preferences made by the voters, until one candidate has an absolute majority
  10. Candidates to the Parliament and to local councils must be over 21 and be the citizens of the member states of the EF
  11. The voting age will be 13 and over, however the voters aged between 13 and 18 will only be allowed to vote at the polling stations because of the system of voting described below
  12. There will be a system of weighted voting, where the weight of the vote will depend on the voter’s knowledge of the matters related to the country’s governance
  13. The IEC, apart from overseeing the election campaign and the voting process itself, will also be responsible for the preparation and approval of 1,000 questions on matters related to the organization of the state, running the government, external affairs etc. The questions will be widely publicized on the Internet, at schools, in newspapers and other media, so everyone will be able to prepare himself for the voting, while at the same time increasing his knowledge about how the country is governed
  14. Each party in the parliament will have the right to prepare a proportion of the questions, or scrutinize the already prepared questions. That proportion will equal the percentage of the party’s mandates in the parliament. For each question there will be five possible answers
  15. Each single vote will count as 10 points. Every adult will have an option of voting using the Internet and getting 2 points, without being asked any question. The same will apply to postal voting, where votes would be allocated 2 points by default. If a voter wants to get more points, he will have to vote at the polling station and answer 10 questions at a terminal there. If he answers correctly 8 or more questions, he will get 8 points, which when added to his statutory 2 points, will make his vote count at a full value of 10 points. Teenagers aged 13 to 18 will be able to vote only at the polling station by answering the questions at the terminal. Their vote will be scored in the same way as for adults.

The underlying reason behind the weighted voting is two-fold. The first one is to give those who have some knowledge and interest in the matters of the state, some extra weight in their electoral decision making by providing more facts in a consolidated and contextual form. That will reduce the impact of fake news and populists slogans and thus lead to more rational voting decisions. The second one is to get the voters not only more interested in the very process of voting in elections but also gradually turning them into more engaged citizens. The vote weighting would not discriminate against any voter in any way, since everyone would have the same chance to get one full vote. It is the same as with general sense of equality. Everyone must have the same opportunities at birth given extra support by the state, when needed. How he uses this opportunity is entirely up to him. It is the same with the weighted voting system. Everyone has some support (he gets 2 electoral points) so that he can influence the outcome of the election in some way. However, it is entirely up to him how he uses the opportunity to increase that influence.

  1. The voters will have access to a political questionnaire, vetted by the IEC, either at the Commission’s website or at special terminals at the polling station. The voter will be asked about his preferences, the issues he would like to have resolved and his needs, but also about the importance of those issues. On that basis, the application will use the answers given in the questionnaire, to identify the party, which has the closest affinity with the voter’s wishes and expectations. He will of course not have to vote for that party, emotions play a significant role during elections, so it will be up to the voter, which candidate, or party he will finally vote for
  2. MPs accountability is given a high priority with an automatic recall in certain cases. MPs could be recalled in these cases:
  • If the Parliamentary Committee on Standards has proven MPs misconduct and the motion to recall him was approved by a vote in the parliament
  • If an MP crossed the party lines, he would have to resign his mandate by default
  • If 15% of his constituents requested his recall, using the IEC website, presenting a reason for such a recall, which would then be subsequently approved by the Parliamentary Committee on Standards that it was correct on merit, the MP would have to resign and offer himself for re-election, if he wanted.
  1. Electoral systems within the EF nations can vary, as long as the EF Constitutional Court accepts them as ‘democratic’ voting systems.

Next: Elections to the EU Institutions

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