[EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Mon Jan 2 07:52:15 PST 2017

I don't know where the US academics story came from, but the facts are that the Additional Member System (AMS, a.k.a. MMP) was
devised for the 1946 elections in the British Occupied Zone of Germany.  The comparable elections in 1946 in the American Occupied
Zone and in the French Occupied Zone used the old Weimar voting system (closed-list party-list).  AMS was adopted for the first
Federal Bundestag elections in 1949.  ("Federal" = British Occupied Zone + American Occupied Zone + French Occupied Zone).

I have always understood that the British civil servants who administered the British Occupied Zone after WWII had a large hand in
devising AMS, by combining the British FPTP system (with single-member electoral districts) with the old Weimar system, in the
(mistaken) belief that this would introduce a significant element of personal choice to what had been an impersonal closed-list
party-list voting system.  Originally electors had only one vote; the two-vote ballot paper was introduced for the Federal Bundestag
elections in 1953.

The predominance of closed-list party-list voting systems in continental Europe is a hangover from the defensive actions of the
threatened political elites as referenced by Kristofer Munsterhjelm (second below).  Many of those countries had a different
political history and a had (and have) a different political culture.  Political parties were legally registered entities in many
continental countries before the (defensive) introduction of PR, so "the party" was the obvious unit on which to base
proportionality.  If the voting system "worked", the politicians elected by it would have little incentive to change it and
certainly the party machines would not want to change for closed-list.   In contrast, in the UK, political parties have been legally
registered entities for electoral purposes only since 1998: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/48/pdfs/ukpga_19980048_en.pdf
The 1998 Act was superceded and repealed by later legislation, PPERA 2000: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2000/41/contents
(plus amendments in 2006, 2009, 2010, 2011).

James Gilmour
Edinburgh, Scotland

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Election-Methods [mailto:election-methods-bounces at lists.electorama.com] On Behalf Of ElectionMethods
> Sent: 01 January 2017 18:06
> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Subject: Re: [EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer
> Regarding introduction of PR in Europe, many years ago a German housemate told me that PR for post-war West Germany was partly
> designed by academics in the United States who wanted to overcome the unfairnesses of U.S. elections (i.e. two-party dominance,
> and unfairness of gerrymandering).
> (I presume closed-list PR is dominant in Europe because many members of parliament would be unlikely to get re-elected under
> open-list PR.)
> Richard Fobes
> On 12/31/2016 3:51 AM, Erik Moeller via Election-Methods wrote:
> > On Fri, Dec 30, 2016 at 3:50 PM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm
> > <km_elmet at t-online.de <mailto:km_elmet at t-online.de> > wrote:
> >> (I just stumbled across a possible explanation for European introduction
> >> of PR - that it was a reaction to the increasing popularity of socialist
> >> parties, where the old parties came to the conclusion that it's better
> >> to be a smaller fish in a proportional pond than to be wiped out
> >> entirely if the socialists were to gain enough support to become the
> >> majority party. See e.g.
> >> http://web.stanford.edu/~jrodden/wp/rodden_jan10_workshop_final.docx . I
> >> don't know if this is the true reason, but if so, the US would be
> >> different since there was no such great threat of socialist majority.)
> >
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

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