Let’s say there are 100 seats.
Party A gets 49 seats. Party B gets 48 seats. And Party C has 3 seats.
Repeatedly, again and again and again, the media reports this is a way that suggests that the real power in this situation is held by party C which can partner with either Party A or Party B. For example, Party C might then demand some concession in exchange for support.
This is then portrayed as some sort of crazy result where a tiny party holds ALL the keys to power.
This ignores a few major possibilities:
– Party A and Party B still have nearly a majority, and only need to get onr or two more votes on any particular policy to get legislation passed. This means that Party A and Party B are both quite powerful relative to Party C, and in fact and single member or two of either party is as powerful as the entire collectively of all of party C (just 3 seats, recall).
– Party C can only demand things that are broadly acceptable to supporters of either Party A or Party B or both. For example, they cannot by virtue of their 2 votes demand from Party A to send the entire budget to private members of Party C. You see, they simply aren’t very powerful they have 3 seats, not 49 seats or 48 seats. However, either Party A or Party B might make some small shift in the direction of Party C on one issue in order to obtain support on something Party C doesn’t really want. You see the power of Party C? They could get a little bit of what they want only if they will accept something that they do not want. Which is basically like Party C holds the entire majority to itself, right?
– If partnering, with Party A, Party A might give pParty C the finger at any moment. Party B is in the same situation. Why might they do this? Recall, at any point, they only need a couple/few more votes. Let’s say the leader of Party C goes on a tweetburst and says a bunch of stuff that is offensive to members of the larger parties. Then Party A might say “get a new leader or you’re out”.
In some, parties with 25 (49 to 2) times more seats have much more power than parties with 96% fewer (49 to 2) seats.
In the election in BC, the Green Party won a couple/few seats. It was portrayed as having the power. What concessions did greens extract from the ultimately partner? Things that the partner wanted. Which is more like they agree on some few things, than Party C (2-3 setas) and Party A (49 seats) passively experiencing the power of Party C to tilt an issue to themajority. The Green Party leader was regularly portrayed in media as having all the power. Yet, I stick to the theory that the party with 49 seats has more influence than the party with 3 seats. Similarly, I stick to the theory that the party with 48 seats has more power than the party with 3 seats.
Why does this matter? Because every time a party with 2 or 3 seats can provide the extra 2-3 votes to pass legislation which is broadly acceptable to members of both or all parties, (as;dlkjfsa;dlkjf much resistance to quality presentation in how as;dlfkjads;lkfja)
For example, the “DUP” is presented as having “veto power over the UK government” after the outcome of the recent election. However, recall, this is not possible unless the following two conditions are met: a) the larger party is in unianimous agreement, and b) no member of any other party will support this. The situation is not one where crazy people can make or break any issue. The real situation is one where any one or two representaitves from either party are as powerful as the entire crackpot party (because Party C is always now “crackpot”, potentially making all sort of “demands” which they will “extract”).
Let’s see how powerful Party C might be in some recent real world analogues.
British Columbia. Greens “hold the balance of power”. Probably there will be proportional representation. How “powerful” is that? A there is already a near majority of MPs from other parties that support this. I stick to the theory that 49 is greater than 3, and also that the relevance of the 49 is greater than the relevance of the 3 (in particular because any 3 from other parties would be sufficient, as I mentioned several times already). Also, some years ago, there was a major referendum push on proportional representation and it very nearly passed. So, it sounds to me more like the Green Party has won ribbon cutting privileges, not power.
Britain / UK. DUP “holds the balance of power”. There was already a referendum on leaving the European Union. The election was held to seek a mandate on the question of how that would proceed, but this backfired somewhat for the previous government. Now DUP “holds the balance of power”. What power do they have? The same power as any handful of members from any other party. For example, to agree with the results of the referendum which is also the position of the largest other party.
When Brexit happens, will that be because DUP has a handful of seats, and in all their power made it happen? Or is it a little bit more because there was already a referendum on the question, and some other party 30 times larger already has specific intentions. You see, the party with a near-majority can partner with ANYONE, as compared to the typical media presentation where the smallest and most crackpot group possible is presented as having all the power or the balance of power.
If DUP “holds the trump cards”, then, I dare say, Conservatives hold an entire deck of trump cards up their sleeve, as compared to the single trump card held by DUP, which cannot possible be played except in a relatively obvious and transparent manner.
The problem is this: the media gets in on this game in any similar situation which seems to promote the idea that it is non-democratic (or in some way crazy or scary) unless a single party can hold 100% of the power and all other parties 0% of the power.
In my opinion, it is more democratic to have power distributions other than 100%-0% after an election. And, moreover, that 3% of seats is never 100% of power, under the theory that 49 is greater than 3 and also that 48 is greater than 3.
(P.S. – if you’re worried about the need to have a single identifiable state executive in case of war or extreme natural disaster, have no fear, we’re not retarded here, we just forget sometimes that we’re not. As for the rest, being in a rush is suspicious. If the policy is that awesome, it should be just as awesome in a week or a month or a year. Then again, if it’s so awesome, why wait? In most instances, it’s not like a failure to move is literally ruining lives at the rate of dozens or hundreds or thousands a month, for example the numbers ending up with criminal convictions related to marijuana.)
What if some CRAAAAZY extremist party comes along and “holds the balance of power”?
And then controls everything by providing 1 or 2 votes additional to the 49% party that we should otherwise have been willing to entrust with everything.
Yet it is the party with the 1 or 2 seats portrayed as the madmen, not the other 49% of seats who would be required to already be able to support something like that. In Canada, May might provide an additional vote to some climate measure, but primarily it is the other 100-odd votes already lined up in favour that make the main difference, regardless of whether or not that position of the larger party is held to prevent losses to the Green party.
In the case of the UK, it is not 10 DUP seats that mainly enable Conservatives in the UK to implement Brexit. It is much more so the 300 seats already in the party that stated it would do so.
Therefore, the argument against proportional representation regarding non-mainstream and/or smaller parties is mostly nonsense, because generally they can only provide a balance of power on issues for which there is already a near-majority