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Erik Moberg ã:
A Theory of Democratic Politics
 
 

19.1 – SOME CONDITIONS FOR THE SYSTEM’S PROPER FUNCTIONING

For the other three main types of constitutional systems treated in this theory it seems possible to consider some kind of functioning as the proper functioning, and therefore also to talk about the conditions for this proper functioning. In this case it is, however, not so clearly like that. I am rather inclined to say that this constitutional system, inherently, is inept and unlikely to function properly. The reason is that presidentialism, which requires party indiscipline as mentioned in part 5.4, is combined with proportional elections, which, at least if we are considering list elections, provide means for enforcing party discipline as explained in part 6.3. Blocking and obstruction are thus likely to be frequent as explained in part 19. Indeed, this very possibility to block and to obstruct may provide the party leaderships with strong incentives for enforcing party discipline.

Pure list elections thus seem to be incompatible with the systems proper functioning, but perhaps it may work in combination with other kinds of proportional systems, which give the voters influence on the fate of individual candidates. The Finnish system as described in part 5.2 is an example. The use of primaries may also, as explained in part 6.6, take power away from the party leaderships, and thus enhance the functioning of the system. Frequent use of initiatives and referendums may also have similar effects.

The upshot of all this is that presidential systems with proportional elections contain a kind of tension, or balance on a very thin edge. In part 5.2 we saw that proportional elections require that political parties of some kind exist. Still, and according to the argument just presented, the constitutional system treated here requires, for its proper functioning, that the parties are not too homogenous, or too disciplined, or, in other words, that they are not too much of parties.