This is interesting

There is no party system, which is a sign of a democracy.

Ritchie says that a party system is a necessary component of democracy?


For example, if every UK MP were elected as an independent, just whoever the constituents thought the best representative of their interests was, the UK would no longer be a democracy?


36 thoughts on “This is interesting”

  1. Shome mishtake shirley? You’e misreading the statement. ‘There is no party system, which is a sign of a democracy’. In other words, one of the signs of democracy is that there is no party system. Surely.

  2. With the lack of a link, should I assume that Richard J Nutcase is talking about his arch-enemies, the Crown Dependencies?

    If so, even the most moronic supporter of tax justice would recognise that their populations are too small to facilitate political parties. Regardless, elected politicians still maintain stances based on traditional left-right ideology, are elected by their constituencies and are held accountable by them. So what’s Ritchie’s problem? Oh yeah, wah wah tax haven sob sob.

  3. Except, as a whole, a government based on independents does not represent anything at all.

    In Guernsey, in my parish, I had seven votes at my disposal to be potentially spread around twelve candidates, none of whom had anything other than “i’m nice” in their half page ‘manifesto’.

    In some parishes there were only 8 candidates, making it possible that a representative (Deputy) could have say on the running of Guernsey winning one vote. Their own.

    It is also possible that that candidate could wield enough behind the scenes influence to get themselves elected as one of the ‘Ministers’, even the Chief Minister. The Ministers are voted by the elected Deputies. The CM first who then nominates his favourites for all the ‘cabinet’ posts.

    It is not representative of anything remotely close to what the electorate really thinks, if they could be bothered to think.

  4. It’s entirely consistent with Ritchie’s definition of a democracy, which is a system where he dictates government policy.

  5. I suspect he means a multi-party system, which is indeed a ‘sign’ of democracy. You can certainly have democracy without parties though, just as you can have parties without democracy (cf. China, USSR, Nazi Germany..)

  6. Alex, the Founding Fathers had a horror of ‘faction,’ and designed the constitution to make it difficult for parties to have an effect on the working of government. See Federalist Paper No. 10.

  7. Arnald – sounds like a democracy then. The fact you don’t like the information the candidates give has no bearing on ability to vote or not vote candidates.
    And who says a candidate cannot vote?

  8. Alex understates the case. The USA was intended by its founders (Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton) to be without political parties; in modern speak a non partisan democracy.

  9. “The USA was intended by its founders …”: that may be what they said, but they were politicians; why believe them?

  10. Dearieme: Because near 2 centuries have passed since they died, its no longer about believing them but reading history books.

  11. Arnald

    And you let us all down by declining to stand for election. We were all eagerly awaiting your manifesto.

    Of course it’s a democracy. Anybody can stand for election and everyone has a vote. If there aren’t more candidates than vacancies in a voting district then that’s because there aren’t enough people wanting to stand – that’s their democratic choice because nobody is stopping them!

    Please do stand next time. The electoral hustings would be extremely interesting.

    Remind me though – do candidates have to be sane in order to stand?

  12. Ah Phil, my favourite source for remembering something I said 4 0r 5 years ago. Once.

    I didn’t say it wasn’t democracy, I said it wasn’t representative.

    Funny, though, that most of the finance related stuff I said back then seems to be happening. Hmm.

    Or maybe you don’t remember that?

  13. Arnold

    I’m not sure that you are remotely capable of remembering what you have said over the years.It would mightily embarrass you, that’s for sure.

  14. Guernsey seems like an almost idyllic democracy. There’s no particular urge to vote. And most, definitely most, importantly: There’s no particular urge to get elected either. Which is basically what we’re all looking for in a government. That it’s so insignificant & uncontroversial that mostly people don’t give a toss about it.

  15. Shame you can’t read, Davies.

    Phil. It’s so tired, your game.


    The thing is people do care. A lot. It’s apathy, not blissful acceptance.

  16. “The thing is people do care. A lot. It’s apathy, ”
    “I didn’t say it wasn’t democracy, I said it wasn’t representative.”
    Apathy = lack of interest = not caring
    A Representative Democracy is one where the people elect representatives to manage things on their behalf instead of having separate universal polls on every issue. This is what Guernsey has.
    We can rely on Arnald as a weather vane – he is exactly the opposite direction from the truth.

  17. Agreed ambiguous, 77, what I meant was that people care about the decisions being made on their behalf, but are apathetic to the democratic process.

    What direction from the truth? I only stated what happens and what could happen. One is not represented by anyone, because there is no option if ones preferred candidate doesn’t poll the few votes needed. There is no opposition to support.

  18. So Arnald, let me get this straight. The few candidates that you do like, don’t get enough votes to be elected. But you are complaining that there is no organisation of said Arnald -friendly candidates that you could join or support, despite them not being popular enough to get elected.

    Who exactly is going to pay for this organisation? If they can’t even muster the few votes they need to win a seat or two in such a small election, where are they going to get the funds to run such a party?

    If you reckon there is such a groundswell of popular support for your policies, why not join forces with a few of your favoured (most likely defeated) candidates and form your own party? Its not against the law you know. You could all meet up every month to draw up your policies and campaign on the ‘isshoos’ as Viscount Stansgate always used to.

    Of course this would demand you spend your own time and money creating something, and as all good socialists know, that’s a terrible faux-pas! Far better to get someone else to do it for you, paid for by money taxed from a third person.

  19. Arnald, you really ought to splash out and buy yourself a dictionary.
    Your People’s Deputy is elected to represent you and your fellow electors. Whether or not you voted for him/her, he/she still represents you and you are entitled to inform him/her of your views (but not to indulge in the foul language with which you frequently pollute Tim’s blog).

  20. Arnald, if people care enough about the decisions that are being made and to be made in the near future they WILL take an interest in the democratic process, even if that means staying up past midnight every night to do so. I do actually know about this.

  21. Sounds pretty much like they have representative democracy over there. People vote for candidates, people are elected.

  22. Arnald

    Let’s hope The opponents in Guernsey never recommend a windfall tax on people’s opinions. I can’t normally get a response out of Murphy but would you classify Jersey as a country?

  23. Any sizable democracy will tend to evolve something like political parties – people with similar sets of opinions banding together to accomplish their mutual objective. Given that nobody has exactly the same opinions as anyone else, there’ll be a bit of horse-trading to get this done.

    Given that such factions will form, it is better if the electorate knows in advance that if elected, I will tend to support people A, B and C rather than X, Y and Z, rather than electing me based on the fact that I have more hair than the other candidate, and then being surprised by my votes.

  24. …which is why prefixing “democracy” with the word “representative” guarantees that you won’t get either. Representative “democracy” isn’t a democracy at all. Which is why authoritarian statists like it.

    The general rules for a free society are something like (a) whenever possible, avoid making collective decisions (b) if you really must make a collective decision, poll every individual directly (c) give them a simple and clear question to answer.

    Rule (c) there made me think of something; according to John Redwoods blog, the EU Referendumists want to ask the electorate this-

    “Do you want the UK government to negotiate a new relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation?”

    What the fuck does this mean? If I vote yes, what am I actually voting for? So far as I know, we already have “a relationship with the EU based on trade and political co-operation”. What the hell kind of mandate for any action would a “yes” provide, and what would a “no” mean? What’s wrong with “Do you want to stay in the EU, or leave the EU?”

    Oh, yeah, they don’t think they can win that one.

    Even a “yes” does not give “the people” any say in the outcome. It hands the outcome to the politicians to decide. It is not even clear why one would bother having a referendum. The government can go to Brussels and “renegotiate” any time they like; they don’t need a referendum. So what the hell is this for?

    This is why we need to get the “representative” part out of the “Democracy” thing. No free country with a standing legislature will remain free. It really is that simple.

  25. I believe (but may be wrong) that the original U.S. constitution had no mention of political parties.

    True, and not just the original, it still doesn’t. But they exist. In any representative democracy there is an advantage for candidates to get together and agree on a common message, both before election – “this is what we will do collectively if you vote for all of us” – and after – “we all signed up to this program so now we’ll all vote for it in Parliament”. You could say competing political parties are an emergent property of democracy. They naturally arise as a result of the rules of the game and the representatives’ desire to seek mutual advantage.

    The Australian Constitution has no mention of parties either, and yet party discipline here is among the strongest in the world. Voting against one’s party is extremely rare (this is not the case in the US). Obviously, there is nothing constitutionally preventing an MP from doing so – as long as they don’t mind being expelled from their party next day.

  26. I find myself in the unfortunate situation of appearing to defend Ritchie’s statement. If the emergence of political parties is a natural consequence of representative democracy and no one has bothered in Jersey, then those reps must have no power.
    But, a quick scan of the wikipedia page shows that there have been parties there, but they have generally formed for single issues and dissolved when those issues were resolved. Which makes sense in a small population, the reps have much less need for a country wide message when their constituencies are small. It makes sense that any emergent party system will be weaker.

    So the difference between me and Ritchie is he seems to feel parties are a necessary requirement to be called a democracy. I think they are a natural development of democracy but the extent to which that development will dominate will vary.

  27. Jersey has had parties over the years, organised most of the time around broad leftist policies. The most recent (the jersey democratic alliance), as has been he case with prior parties, disintergrated , after two of its 3 members were found guilty of voter fraud (‘helping’ some elderly people to ‘complete’ their voting forms) and then the third left in a fit of pique as he felt the parties outlook had gone too centrist. (after the trade union movemen had paid his fine for the vote fraud).

    He is also the same individual who is essentially Richard murphy’s mouthpiece in our states, with each often quoting each others bile and nonsense.

    So it’s not true to say we haven’t had parties. It’s just that the inability of their memberships (who are usually the same people each time) to remain a united party usually signal their decline. They also don’t tend to have any power to influence anything in government as most of their policies are economically naive’ and from the more looney end of the political spectrum, so even at the peak of their power (3 members out of a house of 52), there was sufficient common sense with the other 49 ‘independents’ to vote down their nonsense.

    What Murphy is bemoaning in jersey’s case is the inability of his trade union backed member (his name is Geoff Southern) to influence anything. He calls this undemocratic. It’s actually the very opposite.

  28. If I remember correctly Murphy has moaned about Jersey not implementing some EU diktat in the past. Possible he doesn’t like Jersey because of what it is?

  29. Federalist No. 10 is hilarious. Madison actually thought that federal-level political parties couldn’t form in the US because it was too big! That worked out really well!

    The founding fathers also insisted that their creation was a “Republic” not a “Democracy”, by which they meant it was a representative democracy not a direct democracy. That sure made a lot of difference!

  30. Jim: “Of course this would demand you spend your own time and money creating something, and as all good socialists know, that’s a terrible faux-pas! Far better to get someone else to do it for you, paid for by money taxed from a third person.”

    I do believe you have Arnald’s number.

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