How to vote today in Germany

TheMoneyIllusion.com officially endorses the Free Democrats in tomorrow’s election. If only America had a parliamentary system where the swing party was always a socially liberal and fiscally conservative group. I could actually vote for someone without holding my nose.

23 comments on “How to vote today in Germany

  1. The problem with the FPTP system is that it encourages a broadly two-party system (Duverger’s Law), and with that, a paucity of choices, a crude way to express one’s desires.

    If we had a different system, both main parties would have lost seats over the expenses scandal to “clean” candidates.

  2. The problem with the FPTP system is that it encourages a broadly two-party system

    There’s no problem with the system, its the exclusive political parties that have maintained a duopoly over it.

    Just make the provision of exclusive membership illegal for a political party and FPTP becomes a viable system, although moving to an approval vote would be better when there are likely to be a lot of candidates.

    True, you’d end up with an endless coalition government, but Germany seems to have survived happily with one.

  3. Runcie Balspune,

    There’s no problem with the system, its the exclusive political parties that have maintained a duopoly over it.

    How does exclusive membership affect how people vote, so that they’re more likely to keep 2 parties in power?

  4. Membership can’t be the problem, at least in the UK; actual party membership is so tiny it’s irrelevant.

    I agree with Tim Arnold; it’s FPTP that tends to end up with two parties.

    The German system is I think like the Scottish one – FPTP elected constituency MPs plus top-up “list” MPs to give each party the right proportion, including minor parties who don’t manage to get any constituency MPs elected.

  5. Unfortunately, Tim, it looks like not even 5% of Germans agree with you this time round. The FDP is obviously the party for those with a brain – unfortunately some 3.5 years ago a certain Mr Westerwelle made it clear it is also the party for those without a heart. The FDP is a victim of playing politics for the 1%, giving nice goodies to those that don’t need it at a time of crisis rather than explaining that liberalism works for all.

    Germans believe “liberalism” is for the 1% because that is the way the FDP has played it. Shame on them.

  6. And the result, despite an historic resounding victory, might be a coalition with the left. Hardly an advertisement for an alternative electoral system

  7. @Pat, the CDU and SPD are so close politically that I am surprised they haven’t formally merged yet. The CDU is far more left-wing than you would imagine a “conservative” party to be, particularly on matters economic where it is almost indistinguishable from the socialists. It lost most of its core social policies (gay marriage, abortion and such) to the left a decade ago, while the SPD has, for populist reasons, copied the CDU on a number of populist but peripheral issues (like motorway speed limits).

  8. It’s also ironic that Germany has Schroeder’s SPD government to thank for the labour reforms that leave it in such a strong position today.

  9. I’m really not sure how the exclusive membership thing would help.

    Are you suggesting I should get to chose between the “Tory and nuclear deterrent” candidate, the “Tory and low tax” candidate, the “liberal and lies through their teeth” candidate, the “Labour and nuclear deterrent” candidate, and the “Labour and banker taxing” candidate?

    Surely the best thing is totally simple – government by referenda.
    Small elected representative to deal with stuff too urgent to vote on (e.g. war), but every six months, everyone who cares troops off to the polls, and votes on all the bills the government wants to put through.

    Add in some system to ensure the people can get any major issue onto the ballot (say 50,000 signatures needed), and it should be as good as democracy gets.

  10. John Papola’s comment at 19:50 is particularly fine, eloquently blowing apart the whole idea of arguing about national aggregates.

  11. Tim Almond – “The problem with the FPTP system is that it encourages a broadly two-party system (Duverger’s Law), and with that, a paucity of choices, a crude way to express one’s desires. If we had a different system, both main parties would have lost seats over the expenses scandal to “clean” candidates.”

    I don’t think that is a problem with FPTP but with the overly powerful political parties. I would like to see a ban on any politican party raising its own money for instance – let the individual candidates do that. I would also like to see the parties’ grip on selection weakened. In an ideal world, I suppose, I would like to see primaries held in every electorate to choose two candidates to go forward to the General Election. One for those on the Left – whether Labour, Lib-Dem, Green or even Tory. One for those on the Right. FPTP would work fine that way because the voters would get to choose which lizard they wanted to stand.

  12. Eddy: the French system also does not require us to draw an arbitrary line as to who is “left” and who is “right”. It lets that line arise naturally. I think if I were designing a two-round system, I would want to have a ranked vote for the first round, though, to allow a fuller expression of preferences.

  13. There is no perfect electoral system*. Just because an election under one system throws up a result you don’t like isn’t grounds to change to some other system that would have given you the result you like.

    *:attempts to create the perfect electoral system result in monstrosities like the ballot paper last used in my town’s last communal election, it was a tablecloth, not a ballot paper. And you had to give 10 votes in order of preference. This was done so you could split your choices among party lists, and indeed for individual candidates on all of those lists, rather than just picking a list.

  14. The basic problem isn’t anything to do with how people are elected. It’s a problem of the nature of the structure they are elected into.

    There are numerous problems with ours; the most obvious perhaps being that the executive is part of the Parliament; thus to vote for a Labour government you must vote for the Labour representative whoever it is. No amount of diddling about with the electoral process will fix this.

    But the greater problem is that representative democracies are purposely designed by political elites to empower elites against the electorate, and are in that sense always as tyrannical, and as corrupt, etc, as they can get away with. The entire progressivist system we currently live under- a bloated monstrosity of government and governance, controlled by a largely untouchable and byzantine structure which dominates every institution of society, is the problem.

    Basically, if you allow a system in which decisions are made on your behalf by other people, it will be shit, and the people who make those decisions will be shits. Whatever choice of shades of shit you have.

  15. And you could give up to 3 preferences per candidate.

    By comparison FPTP and PR both seem reasonable compromises.

  16. Basically, if you allow a system in which decisions are made on your behalf by other people, it will be shit, and the people who make those decisions will be shits. Whatever choice of shades of shit you have.

    But not all systems are equally bad. Some are more fair (in terms of being representative) than others. Of course if ‘you’ aren’t interested in fairness then you won’t be interested in those other systems.

  17. UKL-

    It all depends on what sort of fairness you want. In the land of Democratopia, 51% of the population are Protestants and 49% are Catholics. The Parliament is absolutely representative, and votes for Catholics to pay a special tax while giving tax breaks to Protestants. Is that fair? It’s entirely Democratic.

    The basic problem is that democracy itself isn’t either desirable or undesirable, It’s what is done with it that matters. It is basically antagonistic to pluralism. Shall we perscute gay people because most of the population want to? What electoral system will fix that?

    What it all really comes down to is that people who feel the current system (whatever it is) tends to get their desired outcomes will tend to support it; those who don’t will tend to call for change to something that will be more likely to get their desired outcomes. And fairness be damned.

  18. The good news for Timmy is that there is support within Die Linke for a universal basic income guarantee.

    So perhaps he could vote for the ex-commies instead?

  19. Ian B, fair point and tbh I’m not that interested in representativeness so much as liberty. But if people want representativeness then FPTP isn’t the best system.

    Shall we perscute gay people because most of the population want to? What electoral system will fix that?

    That’s why we should have lines people aren’t supposed to cross, like bills of rights. Of course those don’t fix every problem, either. And it’s elites, not the people who make things like bills of rights.

    It’s like Churchill said, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. And
    there are different flavours of democracy.

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