Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Government for the nation not the marginal seat

Let's kill too ugly birds with one stone. The first ugly bird is the election of governments with a minority of the two party preferred vote. The second ugly bird is the way money is thrown at marginal seats, particularly at election time.

We want to preserve the essential electorate-based nature of the House of Representatives. This creates a house where Government usually has a workable majority. So the proposed solution has the following structure:

  • Most members are elected from single party seats;
  • A small number of additional members are selected (by single transferable vote as described below) to ensure that the balance in the parliament is determined by the will of the total electorate;
  • Minor parties don't get into the lower house this way because only parties that win 2 or more electorates outright then participate in the further distribution of votes to add extra members. If you want to see minor parties in the lower house, that is a separate issue, but probably most Australians don't.

Suppose that we have 140 electorates, but we have 150 total seats. To some extent this system will be run as if it is a single seat returning 150 candidates by single transferable vote. So a quota is 1/151 of the total vote.

  • However first each of the 140 electorates elects one candidate with half the vote in that electorate, which is approximately 1/280 of the total voters.
  • In the context of the single national electorate, votes from losing candidates (and votes from winning candidates beyond the 1/151 quota) are distributed to other winners in their party to get them up to a national quota.
  • If a party doesn't get enough transferred votes for all their winners to get a 1/151 quota then those extra winners get their votes from nowhere, just reducing the value of all other remaining votes.
  • That process also applies to independents in the (likely) event that they don't get a 1/151 quota in their only seat.
  • At this stage there are 140 of 150 quotas taken. So the remaining votes are distributed to create 10 more quotas using additional lists of candidates supplied by the parties. Parties which have not won two electorates just get any extra votes for that party transferred without consideration of whether they would have got more quotas.