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Erik Moberg ã:
A Theory of Democratic Politics
 
 

15.2 - SOME CONDITIONS FOR THE SYSTEM'S PROPER FUNCTIONING

In part 5.3 we saw that a parliamentary system, for its proper functioning, depends on disciplined and cohesive parties. This requirement is however probably more important in a proportional system than in a majoritarian one. The reason is that the dominating party in a two-party system usually represents a considerably greater majority in the legislature than a governing coalition in a multiparty-system (according to the cube rule presented in part 15.1). The somewhat lesser discipline which is likely in a majoritarian system may therefore be compensated for the smaller number of parties.

It therefore seems reasonable to assume that both proportional and majoritarian electoral systems can sustain a parliamentary regime, but the requirement is that the electoral system is of an appropriate variety. In part 11.1 we saw that a proportional system, when that is used, basically has to be of the list kind. Here, a similar condition is that the majoritarian method used probably has to be of the first-past-the-post type (see part 5.1), whereas the double ballot method probably is unsuitable. The reason is that this latter method is likely to give a considerable number of parties with rather low discipline. The number of parties is thus likely to be greater than if the first-past-the-post method is used, and their discipline is likely to be considerably less than in the case of proportional list elections. A parliamentary system using the double-ballot method is thus likely to fail.

Furthermore, and for the same reasons as in the proportional, parliamentary setting, the popular techniques of primaries, referendums and initiatives are alien to the system and thus not likely to be used. Indeed, even the possibility of using referendums occasionally for saving the parties from dealing with potentially splitting issues, which was real in the proportional context as mentioned in parts 11.1 and 6.6, is less likely here. The reason is that, in this majoritarian context, it is important for the parties, in order to demonstrate a capacity for governing, to have a complete governmental program.