Editorials: A note from the British election: Has the electoral system failed voters? | Syahrul Hidayat/The Jakarta Post

Despite all the overnight drama in the latest British election when the Conservative Party defied all pollsters’ predictions of a tight race with Labour, the composition of seats in parliament (the Commons) contradicts the share of votes among political parties. The winner, the Conservative Party, can form its own government without forging a coalition even though it only garnered 37 percent of the vote. Is it a fair result for voters? For the UK Independent Party (UKIP) and the Green Party (which both won one seat despite the overall share of votes of 12.6 and nearly 4 percent respectively) as well as their supporters the answer is surely yes.

United Kingdom: Five million votes but just two seats. UKIP and Green set to campaign for electoral reform | Yorkshire Post

The Greens and Ukip have formed an unlikely alliance to demand electoral reform after their parties polled almost five million votes between them but won just one seat each. Ukip leader Nigel Farage joined in the criticism, eventually pledging that his party would lead the reform before he discovered this morning that he had failed to oust the Conservatives in the South Thanet seat. He said: “There’ll be lost and lots of Ukip voters out there very angry that they are not going to be represented and I think our system is bust.

Editorials: This is the best explanation of gerrymandering you will ever see | Christopher Ingraham/The Washington Post

Gerrymandering — drawing political boundaries to give your party a numeric advantage over an opposing party — is a difficult process to explain. If you find the notion confusing, check out the chart above — adapted from one posted to Reddit this weekend — and wonder no more. Suppose we have a very tiny state of fifty people. Thirty of them belong to the Blue Party, and 20 belong to the Red Party. And just our luck, they all live in a nice even grid with the Blues on one side of the state and the Reds on the other. Now, let’s say we need to divide this state into five districts. Each district will send one representative to the House to represent the people. Ideally, we want the representation to be proportional: if 60 percent of our residents are Blue and 40 percent are Red, those five seats should be divvied up the same way.

Editorials: Should the Victor Share the Spoils? | Noah Gordon/The Atlantic

“Left Party whip Keith Ellison spoke in Washington today in an attempt to rally centrist support for tighter financial regulation—his liberal coalition has support on the issue from Tea Party leader Steve King, but without more Democrats and Republicans the bill is doomed to fail. Leaders of the Green Party have yet to take a stance on the bill but …”

Wait, what?

This might sound absurd in the United States, but it’s not as crazy elsewhere in the world. The American system of government is stable, popular, and backed by the Constitution—and dominated by two political parties. A political system comprised of multiple, smaller parties and shifting coalitions may be unimaginable in America, but it’s the norm in most other democracies. While the United States is one of the world’s oldest democracies, and spreading democracy is a central tenet of the country’s foreign policy, our winner-take-all system itself is among our least-popular exports. In Western Europe, 21 of 28 countries use a form of proportional representation in at least one type of election. What is proportional representation, or PR? It’s a system that aims to gives parties the same percentage of seats as the percentage of votes they receive—and it might be able to end our gerrymandering wars.

Chile: Electoral reform in Chile: Tie breaker | The Economist

Augusto Pinochet left the scene as Chile’s dictator 25 years ago, but the electoral system he bequeathed has governed politics ever since. Under the country’s unique “binominal” system, each parliamentary constituency has two seats; the winning candidate takes one and in most cases the runner-up takes the other. This has reserved nearly all the seats in parliament for two big coalitions, the centre-left New Majority (to which the president, Michelle Bachelet, belongs) and the centre-right Alliance. The system has brought Chile stability at the expense of diversity. It kept small parties out of parliament unless they joined one of the two big coalitions, and ruled out landslide victories by either side. Moreover, it has tended to over-represent the Alliance at the expense of New Majority. Rural areas, which had supported Pinochet, were given more weight than their populations warranted.

Fiji: First vote in over 8 years for Fijians | Stuff.co.nz

For the first time in eight and a half years, nearly 600,000 Fijians are voting in a democracy-restoring general election. Early voting before the September 17 elections began today in venues around the archipelago, including army bases and prisons. But the long wait for democracy’s return coincides with the capture of 45 Fijian peacekeepers by an al Qaeda-linked group in civil war-racked Syria. They are all new soldiers without peacekeeping experience. The military says they have been affected by seeing people being beheaded near their base. Pre-poll voters are confronted with a big sheet of paper containing numbers beginning from 135 and up to 382. Each number relates to the 247 people running in the elections. Military strongman Frank Bainimarama, who ended democracy with a coup in 2006 and who devised the voting system, is No 279.

India: A Preview of India’s 2014 Election: How Will 800 Million People Choose Their Next Leader? | International Business Times

India will embark Monday on the biggest democratic election in global history with some 815 million eligible voters, more than all the people in the U.S., Russia, Japan and Nigeria combined, casting ballots in a six-week process to elect a prime minister. It’s a logistics tour de force: Voting will occur at 930,000 polling stations across India from April 7 to May 12. It’s also more complex than an election in a direct democracy. Rather, based on the British parliamentary system, Indians vote for 543 legislators who then appoint a prime minister from the party that amasses a majority of seats in the lower house of parliament, where each state in India has proportional representation, as in the U.S. House of Representatives. The independent Election Commission of India will count votes and announce results on May 16. If no one party has amassed a simple majority in parliament on that date, parties will have only a few weeks of frantic negotiations in which to form alliances and name a new prime minister.

New Zealand: Flag fall: A date for the general election is set | The Economist

When he announced September 20th as the date for the next election, New Zealand’s prime minister, John Key, highlighted the difficulties of forming the next government. The country has a voting system of proportional representation much like Germany’s, and a party leader who may hold the balance of power has a record of prevarication. It could, said Mr Key, be a “very complex environment. And if New Zealand First holds the balance of power, goodness knows how long it will take him to decide what he’s going to do.” The “him” in question is Winston Peters of New Zealand First, who after an election in 1996 took eight weeks to decide between throwing in his lot with the centre-right National Party, Mr Key’s bunch, or with the Labour Party. In the end he chose National, but he has since served as a minister in both National-led and Labour-led governments. Mr Key has been pushing Mr Peters to declare beforehand which side he will back. A government supported by a minor party or parties looks likely this time, too.

Voting Blogs: Who decides how European elections work: the party or the electorate? | openDemocracy

There is only one European election, however it is held on different days and according to different versions of proportional representative voting for each country. Proportional representation (“PR”) voting with open lists allows for more influence on which candidate gets elected, giving voters the choice between personalities as well as between the political parties. This open list system is used in a large number of EU member states: Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Malta. However, for example in France, Germany and the UK the countries have opted for a closed-list, where voters are only given the choice between the parties, but not the individual candidates. “Closed-list PR” moves the competition between candidates from the same party back from an open election campaign, engaging with the voters, to an earlier stage in the election process: the party selection process.

Myanmar: Parliament Told to Make Quick Decision on Electoral System | Radio Free Asia

The head of Myanmar’s election body asked parliament Friday to decide by the end of the year whether the country’s electoral system should be changed to one of proportional representation as proposed by some groups, saying an early decision would enable authorities to prepare ahead of the 2015 polls. Election Commission Chairman Tin Aye said basic rules for the upcoming general elections would be written by December, assuring that the polls would be “free and fair” unlike the 2010 elections held under military rule and which had been criticized by various groups. “I don’t want to have the bitter experience like that of the 2010 elections. I will make my commission members skillful and will educate the people ahead of the 2015 elections,” he said at a meeting with leaders of 36 political parties in Myanmar’s commercial capital Yangon.

South Korea: Court acquits 45 people over UPP election fraud scandal | Yonhap News Agency

A Seoul court on Monday acquitted 45 people on charges of proxy voting in selecting a minor opposition party’s proportional candidates ahead of last year’s April parliamentary elections. With similar cases pending in the court, legal experts expect the ruling could affect the verdicts of some 400 other people who are standing trials in connection with the Unified Progressive Party (UPP) election fraud scandal. The scandal centers around allegations that votes were cast en masse through a single Internet Protocol (IP) address in the UPP’s primary for proportional representation seats that took place in March 2012. IP addresses, the online equivalent of a street address or a phone number, should be different for each voter. Multiple or proxy voting allegedly happened with offline ballots as well.

Australia: How Voting For The Senate Works In Australia | Lifehacker Australia

The record large Senate ballot papers have probably already annoyed many early voters. Their great length — over a metre in NSW and Victoria — will soon annoy many more voters. However, the real annoyance will come if new senators with very little popular support get elected. The reason why this might happen is a distortion of the Proportional Representation system, where, by voting “above the line”, it is the party — not the voter — that decides the preferences. In this election, more than ever before, large numbers of parties that we have never heard of are on the ballot paper. Preference deal strategies might even lead to some of them getting elected. Back in 2004, Labor and Australian Democrat preferences in Victoria went to Family First ahead of the Greens. Almost no Labor or Democrat voters knew this when they voted above the line, but this led to Family First’s Steve Fielding’s election to the Senate. This can happens because the above the line option — where the preferences are decided by the party you vote for, not by you the voter — was introduced for Senate polls in 1983. These preferences are listed in the Group Voting Tickets.

Nepal: Panel considers splinter group’s demands | The Hindu

With the Election Commission’s mid-August deadline — to settle political negotiations to hold the elections for a second Constituent Assembly (CA) on November 19 — on time, parties in Nepal intensified negotiations this week to bring the dissenting parties on board. “The roulette wheel is turning, we’ll find out by Sunday where the ball lands,” said Upendra Yadav, whose party Madhesi Janadhikar Forum (MJF) has been asking for the Chairman of the Council of Ministers to resign as Chief Justice; to raise the number for proportional representation in the proposed Assembly to be 58 per cent; to reopen the voter registration drive to include approximately four million eligible voters currently missing from the voter roll; and to delineate the constituencies based on population. Similar demands have been raised by another dissenting party, the Federal Socialist Party (FSP), which wants the government to make provision for Nepalis residing abroad to vote; and has called for an “all party conference” to guide the country’s political future until the elections are held. “If polls are held under the status quo, the country will return to conflict,” warned Mr. Yadav, echoed by FSP. Both parties are vying for concessions to improve their electoral arithmetic.

Germany: Elections 2013: Don’t mention Europe | EurActiv

Germany, with a population of nearly 82 million, has seen its influence in the European Union grow significantly in recent years as it has weathered the economic storm perhaps better than any other member state. Having recovered from a recession in 2008, the country narrowly dodged a repeat slump at the start of 2013. Now the German economy appears to be on the up, with economic indicators looking solid. Angela Merkel, as current keeper of Germany’s most coveted political position, the chancellorship, has become the figurehead and perceived key decision-maker of the EU’s response the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis. Protestors in the southern economies hit worst by economic stagnation have held up banners decrying the impacts of “Merkel austerity”, the chancellor’s campaign to shave sovereign debt by cutting public spending. But in her home country, analysts say that Merkel is enjoying an unusual spell of popular support due to her handling of the eurozone crisis.

Germany: Colours of the rainbow – A guide to Germany’s federal elections | The Economist

Like much of Germany’s democratic machinery, its voting system is designed to avoid past mistakes. A combination of proportional representation and first-past-the-post majority voting fosters stable coalitions and discourages small fringe parties. When Germans go to the polls on September 22nd, they will elect the members of the Bundestag, or lower house of Parliament. Whichever coalition of parties can muster a majority of members will form the federal government. (Members of the Bundesrat, the upper chamber, are delegates of Germany’s 16 states, or Länder). Germans have two votes. One is for a candidate to represent the local electoral district (of which there are 299), chosen by simple plurality of votes. The second vote is for a party. Any party receiving 5% or more of the total is entitled to seats in the Bundestag, whether any of its candidates have won a district or not. If a party gets more seats through direct election than its share of the overall vote merits, it can keep some of these “overhang” seats. Thanks to a recent change in the electoral law, the other parties then get “compensatory” seats to restore the balance among the parties. These provisions mean the precise number of Bundestag members will not be known until after the election, but it could reach 700.

Fiji: New electoral system in new constitution | FijiVillage

As Fiji awaits the announcement of the new constitution, one of the major changes being anticipated is the electoral system that will be used in the country for the first time. The new constitution will also confirm the type of electoral system that will be adopted as we move towards the 2014 elections. In the draft constitution prepared by the government’s legal team, it was proposed that the election of members of parliament is by a multi-member open list system of proportional representation, under which each voter has one vote with each vote being of equal value.

New Zealand: Impasse over mixed-member proportional representation changes | NZCity News

The Electoral Commission’s recommended changes to MMP must be put to voters in a binding referendum. That’s the only step left now the government has decided they can’t be implemented because there isn’t a consensus among the parties represented in parliament. It’s blatant self-interest on National’s part and there’s no assurance the situation would be any different if Labour and the Greens were running the show. The commission, after a lengthy review and thousands of public submissions, recommended abolishing the single seat “coat tails” rule and lowering the threshold for list seats from five per cent of the party vote to four per cent.

Canada: Is first past the post the best voting system for B.C.? University to study alternatives from Tuesday’s outcome | The Province

University researchers have launched a study to determine if an alternative voting system would have an impact on the results of Tuesday’s provincial election. B.C. currently employs the first past the post (FPTP) system where the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner. The Votes BC study, involving researchers from the University of B.C. and Laval University, will look at how voting patterns may change under two different electoral systems: proportional representation (PR) and single transferable vote (STV).

Iceland: Pirate Party wins seats in Icelandic election | The Register

Not content with serving as a catalyst for the global financial crisis, Iceland has elected three members of the Pirate Party to its national Parliament. Iceland’s Alþingi (“Althing” in English) is a single-chambered parliament that has met since the tenth century and says it is the world’s oldest such legislature. The nation is divided into six constituencies, each of which elects nine representatives. Constituencies with larger populations also have one or two “levelling seats” to ensure the value of a vote remains constant across the nation. Proportional representation is used to elect candidates.

Malta: Nationalist Party files fresh court application against Electoral Commission | Malta Today

The PN and two candidates Claudette Buttigieg and Frederick Azzopardi have filed a Constitutional court application against the Electoral Commission, over the 9 March election result which the PN insists “did not reflect the will of the people,” and distorted proportionality in Parliament. In its application the PN, Buttigieg and Azzopardi  are asking the Constitutional court to declare the Electoral Commission’s actions in breach of the right to free elections which uphold the will of the people and consequently address the injustice suffered by the party and the two candidates by correcting the number of MPs elected to reflect proportionality.

Washington: State House passes Washington Voting Rights Act | Associated Press

The state House passed a measure Thursday to reform representation of minorities in local elections, over the objections of Republicans who said that the measure was unnecessary and potentially costly. The Washington Voting Rights Act passed on a nearly party-line 53-44 vote. Rep. Chris Hurst, D-Enumclaw, joined Republicans in opposing the measure. The bill now heads to the Senate, where its future is uncertain. The measure allows for minority individuals or groups to seek court-mandated orders to jurisdictions to reform their elections. Those jurisdictions include towns and cities of 1,000 people or more, school districts, fire districts, counties, and ports, among others. Among the remedies is shifting from at-large elections to district-based elections to better represent residents. Rep. Luis Moscoso, D-Mountlake Terrace, said the idea of proportional representation is reflective of American democracy. “When a neighborhood or community cannot elect representation from their locality, then that democracy is not served, and our American dream is diminished,” he said.

Djibouti: Tensions Rise Ahead of Historic Legislative Elections | Somaliland Sun

Djibouti is undergoing a major change. For the first time since the independence of this small east African nation in 1977, the opposition party might be elected to parliament in the legislative elections taking place on February 22. To date, the electoral campaign, which started on February 8, has been unfolding calmly. But the political discourse between supporters of the different parties has already soured. A historic image: thousands of people gathering beneath the banners of the Union for National Salvation (USN), the coalition that brings together the Djiboutian opposition. After ten years of boycotting elections, these political parties are now participating in the legislative elections and running against the UMP, the Union for the Presidential Majority. After having been shut out from political life for the last 36 years, the opposition will now finally be able to sit in parliament.

Netherlands: At a Glance: Dutch Elections and The Euro Crisis | Wall Street Journal

Dutch voters will head to the polls on Wednesday, Sept. 12. Polls open at 0530 GMT and close at 1900 GMT. Vote counting starts immediately after the polls close and the first — unofficial — results will be published by public broadcaster NOS just after 1900 GMT. The process normally goes on until the early hours of the following morning. Final official results will be published Monday, Sept. 17 by the national election council. The outcome of the elections may influence Europe’s austerity-focused approach to dealing with its debt crisis. The German-led austerity drive has been strongly supported by the outgoing government of Liberal Prime Minister Mark Rutte. But a large number of Dutch voters are frustrated with belt-tightening and have become increasingly wary of bailing out southern European governments. “The Dutch elections might shift the balance of power in Europe towards less austerity and reduced support for further bailouts,” according to ING.

Mongolia: Mongolian elections mark key step on democratization road | Vancouver Sun

Depending on whom one believes, Mongolia’s former president Nambaryn Enkhbayar is either a champion of democracy targeted for judicial persecution by an increasingly authoritarian regime or he is a corrupt charlatan whose finely crafted portrayal of martyrdom hoodwinked Washington, the United Nations and the European Union. The evidence suggests the second view is nearer the truth and Mongolia’s Constitutional Court has upheld a General Election Commission ruling that because Enkhbayar, president from 2005 to 2009, is facing five corruption charges, he is not eligible to run in parliamentary elections on June 28. That ruling has stalled and perhaps ended Enkhbayar’s attempts at a political comeback after his defeat in the 2009 presidential election.

Afghanistan: Vote law change planned ‘to fight fraud’ | AFP

Afghanistan’s election commission has drafted proposed changes to the country’s election law in a bid to prevent fraud in future parliamentary votes, an official said Sunday. Afghanistan’s 2009 presidential election and the parliamentary election held a year later were both characterised by widespread electoral fraud. “We have used the previous election experiences to prepare the new draft to improve future elections,” Independent Election Commission spokesman Noor Mohammad Noor told AFP. “In the new draft around 50 percent of the electoral law will be changed.”

South Korea: Voting continues in crucial parliamentary elections | Yonhap News

Voters flocked to polling stations Wednesday in tightly contested general elections that could strip President Lee Myung-bak’s ruling party of its control of parliament and set a crucial tone for December’s vote to pick his successor. The quadrennial poll is to elect a new 300-member National Assembly, but it takes on extra significance as the results are likely to affect the presidential election just eight months away. It is the first time in 20 years the two big elections take place in the same year. The National Assembly will be comprised of 246 directly contested seats and 56 proportional representation seats to be allocated to parties according to the total numbers of votes they receive. Each voter is asked to cast two ballots, one for a candidate and the other for a party.

Editorials: Voting Rights Act’s time may be limited | TheHill.com

States all over the country are bringing or joining lawsuits that claim the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional. Against this backdrop, redistricting battles in states that are tinged with racial and ethnic overtones are beginning to spill into federal territory. There can no longer be any doubt: As the 2012 election season rolls around, the constitutional fate of the Voting Rights Act will have a considerable impact on the political playing field.

In the most dramatic episode thus far, Texas directly petitioned the Supreme Court this week to delay the implementation of a redistricting plan recently drawn up by three federal judges for temporary use as election season begins. The latest federal Census shows a sharp growth in Texas’s Hispanic population, thus making the redistricting politics there especially contentious.

Editorials: Render gerrymandering obsolete | Rob Richie/HamptonRoads.com

Virginia has become one of the few true swing states in presidential elections and, in recent years, has experienced divided partisan control of its state legislature. You’d think that this would have prompted hotly contested state legislative races on Election Day, but in fact only 52 of 140 races had candidates from both major parties – including just 27 percent of elections for the House of Delegates. Another round of largely uncontested races is just the latest evidence of the failure of winner-take-all, single-member district elections.

Winner-take-all inherently represents voters poorly and tempts partisans to gerrymander outcomes. Although we need other changes like independent redistricting, it’s time to look for a better way grounded in our electoral traditions: fair voting, which is an American form of proportional representation in elections taking place in larger “superdistricts.”

Editorials: Opinion: A rogue convention? How GOP party rules may surprise in 2012 | Politico

The rules of a game often determine its winner. With the approach of the Republican Party’s first presidential nomination caucuses and primaries, party rules are already playing a key role — and just may lead Republicans on a wild nomination ride that won’t end until the last day of its convention in Tampa.

The Republican Party is an association rather than a government entity, making its national rules the equivalent of a constitution when it comes to its nomination process. To be sure, states may want to change the dates of a primary, state parties may change the manner of their nomination contests and members of Congress may pontificate about the process. But for the final word, it’s the Rules of the Republican Party.

Pakistan: EC urged to impose system of proportional representation | Pakistan Observer

The advisor to the Ex-CM Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on political affairs, Sikandar Aziz Khan has suggested to the Election Commission of Pakistan to immediately impose the system of proportional representation for the larger interest of the country and the people as in this system votes will be cast in support of the political parties and not candidates that will result in enhancement of the percentage of cast votes.

Addressing a press conference in the press club on Thursday, Sikandar Aziz Khan advised the Election Commission of Pakistan to make immediate amendments in the law in this connection and adopt the system in which the seats in the national and provincial assemblies would be allotted to the political parties according to the percentage of received votes. He said the existing system had created a lot of defects in the ruling party and majority of the people were reluctant to cast their votes. He said from the existing system it was clear that those rich candidates were being brought to power who had spent huge funds on the elections and after wining the polls use every underhand method to get the money back.