Thoughts on democracy

Morning All,

It’s a wet and miserable morning here in Normandy, and I have been listening to the radio. Lots of politicians banging on about a general election.

I am registered as an overseas voter in my old constituency in Derbyshire. My MP does not count the votes but weighs them, so a vote for any other party does not really have any impact.

Thinking about the election in 2015 ( ? ) Ukip polled 4mill votes and got 1 MP, the Greens received 1 mill and also got 1 MP.

Now we have the two major parties obsessed about " The will of the people " Is it not time to review a political system that may have worked in 1850 with the Whigs and Tories, but is no longer fit for purpose and does not reflect the current state of politics.

As the drizzle got harder, I thought what could you replace it with, and I came across this explanation of the German system.

The German system is a mix or FPTP and PR. in a general election every eligible citizen gets two votes, one for the person he wants to represent his constituency in the Bundestag, and one for the party of his choice. Therefore if someone is a die-hard SPD (Labour) voter but likes the local CDU/CSU (Conservative) MP, which would be a real dilemma in the UK, there is no problem. He can vote for both, and both votes count.

Here is how it works (figures are made simple to keep things simple). The Bundestag has around 600 seats (this can change according to how people vote.) and there are 300 constituencies. the persons with the most votes in each constituency (ie in the FPTP part of the ballot) are guaranteed a seat in the Bundestag. Therefore each constituency choses its representative, just as in the UK system. Now the PR part comes into play. The remaining 300 seats are allocated to the parties according to their percentage share of the national vote. So say the CDU/CSU have 50% of the total national vote and have 180 (60%) of the 300 seats reserved for constituency MPs. To achieve the 50% they got in the PR part of the vote they would get 120 of the 300 seats reserved for parties. Therefore in total they have 50%, or 300, of the seats in the Bundestag and yet every constituency which voted for a CDU/CSU candidate got one.

The only stipulation for the PR part of the allocation is that the party must have over 5% of the national vote. This is why the surge for the AfD made such a difference in the last election. Previously the AfD had only one or two constituencies and therefore only a couple of seats in the Bundestag but in the last election they got 12.6% (exactly the same as UKIP in the 2015 UK GE) and so got 13% or 82 seats.

I think this seems a good system as it maintains the constituency link, but reflects the overall vote, and every vote does count.

I know turkeys do not vote for Christmas, but something has to change as trust in Mp’s and the system seems to be disappearing down the plughole.

Sorry a bit of a long and heavy post for a Thursday morning, but what do you think.

Hope it’s sunny where you are



But first you need media that seeks to educate the public, not brainwash them. Which is a big ask at this point because there is a lot of brainwashing to be undone before people are ready to look at facts with an open mind and make a balanced assessment. But until you get to that stage, democracy is meaningless. The party that controls the media will always win.


Hi Anna

Totally agree. I think you have should start in schools and show them how the country functions, all the way from Parish Council level to the House of Lords.

An explanation of the legal system should also be included.

Knowledge is power as some clever bod said.


I’ll give one reason why the UK shouldn’t have any form of PR at present - the Brexit Party.


Fair point even when the conservatives are acting like the Brexit Party it still splits the vote.

Having said that would the overall composition of parliament not be more centrist under PR? New parties could spring up to reflect the actual political make-up of the UK? It could also diminish the grip the media has on the discourse in the long term.

Hi Timothy

Whilst I hold no truck for the Brexit party, don’t you think that a large percentage of the electorate who support the Brexit party deserve representation.

This is one of the major causes of the failure of our current system. People feel they have no say.

I feel Marijke’s point is a valid one.

I feel PR, whilst giving them a voice, nullifies political extremes of both Right and Left.


Be careful what you wish for…

Fair point Graham, but all change involves an element of risk.

I feel that parties of both extremes, once dragged into the light of public debate are shown up for what they are.

As an example, look at the result of Nick Griffin of the BNP being given a voice on Question Time.

Question time made a star out of Nigel Farage. Look where that has got us.

Thinking about it, I totally support your idea of PR and I don’t think FPTP will keep the Brexit party out. The Tories have become the Brexit Party. This might split the vote but it still looks like they will win an overall majority in an election.

My comment was tongue in cheek really although I do think having a buffoon as PM is bad enough, letting Farage (for example) loose in parliament is perhaps a step too far.:anguished:


Perhaps you need a public which bothers to find out the truth for themselves and does not follow like sheep.
I am coming to the conclusion that you need mandatory voting, then people might make more effort on where they place their vote.
Intelligence testing before being allowed to vote would be useful, but not really acceptable.


If we could have a Cabinet that bothered to find out the truth for themselves and not put party before country every time, that would be a good start.
And MPs who actually bother to read treaty texts before they vote on them, would be the icing on the cake.
Led by donkeys is about right.


I certainly think that an intelligence test prior to voting should be mandatory but given that, as you say, that is unlikely to ever be acceptable I personally would be in favour of a benign dictatorship.

aren’t those two (benign and dictatorship) aspirations mutually exclusive?

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Well nobody has asked me.

George has an interesting take on this:

No, I do not believe they are Graham. There have been several examples of royal lineage, Byzantine and Roman emperors who have been a lot better for their people than the current shower of politicians that we have.
More recently and currently you could cite Lee Kew of Singapore and Paul Kagame in Rwanda. Both countries have progressed and improved radically under their leadership while ours rapidly goes down the toilet.
You must also admit that living in a ‘democracy’ doesn’t really gain one a lot. Tick a box once every five years and then take what you’re given. Might as well have a benign dictator who might genuinely care.

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Were either Lee Kuan Yew or Paul Kagame dictators? :thinking:

Their ascendancy to power may have been less despotic than others we can think of but they effectively became unopposed leaders through their endearment to the people.
The point I was making is that their positive contributions to their respective countries has been notable and shows the ‘democratic’ regime of the UK in a comparatively poor light.

As I see it the Tory Party saw democracy as doing anything to appease the alt right of the Party, but even that has gone by the board. The Conservative and Unionist Party has given up on the Union to try and force this appalling agreement through Parliament. No Tory Minister has been invited to speak at the DUP Party Conference. Boris made a promise when he spoke last year that there would never be a division between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. Lying toad.
Meanwhile Momentum is angling for an Election whilst Corbyn is still for keeping No Deal off the table.
So at the moment Democracy in the UK means domination of politics by the alt right and extreme left.
Unfortunately, the bamboozled electorate is so bored and unconcerned that they are now following the mantra, Get Brexit Done, in the same way that they followed Project Fear.
A sad state of affairs.

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