Weighing the electoral law

The government’s decision to unilaterally pass the new electoral law during the runup to the elections is no boost to our democratic institutions. Such draft bills should be sent to Parliament at a less politically-charged time and through consensus. But matters have taken another course. In essence, however, Interior Minister Costas Skandalidis’s proposals are interesting. The possibility of a voter picking a candidate from a party other than the one he voted for merits discussion. So does the introduction of regional deputies elected from a list. But these two clauses have been dropped due to opposition from PASOK MPs. The minister’s proposal does not contain anything that was obviously dictated by partisan self-interest. There are pros and cons to breaking up large constituencies, but to do so would not favor the ruling party. The same applies to the proposal to increase the number of state deputies from 12 to 15, though it would be worth preventing the same person from appearing on the state list for a second four-year term. The two alternative versions of reinforced proportional representation combine simplicity and functionality by favoring the biggest party, so as to produce stable governments and greater proportionality (81 percent in the first version and 88 percent in the second). Reducing the parliamentary threshold from 3 percent to 2 or at least 2.5 percent would boost pluralism. As not even the distribution of seats shows any sign of partisan self-interest, there is an objective basis for agreement between at least the two large parties. This possibility has been invalidated, however, by the government’s timing. This was obviously not a matter of chance. There may be no sign of self-interest in the new electoral law, but the government clearly broached this sensitive topic now to convey the impression that it is still the main progatonist in politics.