Redistribution of seats

Every 10 years, the national census brings a change in the number of parliamentary seats in some electoral constituencies so as to maintain the ratio between seats and population. This time, however, there seems to be a blatant asymmetry in the distribution of seats. The issue has often been raised in the past but no government has dared engineer a redistribution for fear of upsetting existing local equilibria or personal objectives of deputies and candidates for office. Hence, except for Attica and Thessaloniki, every prefecture makes up a separate constituency. As a consequence, there are three types of electoral districts. First, we have huge ones, topped by Athens’ second (or B) constituency (42 seats); second, we have small constituencies, with eight single-seat, six two-seat and 12 three-seat areas. Third, we have the remaining, medium-sized ones. Selection criteria obviously vary in each; so does the quality of political representation. The logic of the current system of reinforced political representation is suited to medium-sized constituencies, those with five to 12 seats. Such a solution would satisfy candidates’ need to approach the electorate without being pressured for political favors. It leaves room for voting according to political criteria without unduly bolstering media-savvy candidates. In this case, we would need electoral districts made up of two or even three prefectures, a division of the main constituencies and a breakup of Athens’s second constituency into four different ones. This solution, however, is blocked by deputies’ fear and strong mistrust between the two main parties, New Democracy and PASOK. It’s time the two parties examined the issue and sought a compromise. Greece needs a cohesive and homogeneous electoral system to enhance the quality of its political representation.