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Sunday, 20 July 2008

NCC Discussion Updates (50% + 1)

Various constitution clauses are now being adopted by the NCC on various matters. Hope to track the updates through this NCC Discussion Updates thread. Last week, the NCC endorsed the 50% + 1 proposal to "enhance legitimacy, curb regionalism and integrate Zambians through a popularly elected leader". Many people who raise objection to this clause, worry that it could be costly. But in the words of Andrew Sakala democracy is not a cheap exercise. Not cheap, but hopefully still value for money.

By the way, isn't it odd that people always raise "the next best alternative spend" argument, when they don't like something? Health Deputy Minister Lwipa Puma is allegedly to have opposed the 50% + 1 because "the money to be spent on the exercise [in the event of re-run] could instead be channeled to other needy areas such as education and health sectors." The money can always be spent on other things. Mr Puma's wages can be spent on other things. We can close down some of our pointless embassies and spend money on other things. The question is whether that best alternative yields better long term benefits than the proposal under consideration. I am in no position to judge whether spending money on an election re-run following the 50% + 1 clause, is more beneficial than 10 new schools, but I do know that its up to society to judge these things, not Mr Puma.

21 comments:

  1. wouldn't Instant Run-Off voting kill the cost objection ?

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  2. I am wondering whether my elderly aunt in Mwansabombwe would find that system more complicated.

    I assume you have a dual system in mind.

    Retaining majority voting for MPs but IRV for the President. Otherwise doing it for both would be even more messy.

    The only problem I have with 50% + 1 is why it is preferred for Presidential votes but not for MPs. I mean if this is about principle, and not cash, why not do it for MPs as well?

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  3. I am wondering whether my elderly aunt in Mwansabombwe would find that system more complicated.

    More complicated, sure. But the idea of ranking candidates is not exactly rocket science either, is it ?

    I assume you have a dual system in mind.
Retaining majority voting for MPs but IRV for the President. Otherwise doing it for both would be even more messy.

    Why would it be messy ?

    The only problem I have with 50% + 1 is why it is preferred for Presidential votes but not for MPs. I mean if this is about principle, and not cash, why not do it for MPs as well?

    That's good question.



    Actually, now that I think about it, IRV can be very messy in Africa because usually you'll have very large numbers of candidates. Not to mention that it implies a certain level of trust for and professionalism of election agents.

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  4. I think it is interesting that your Wikipedia link suggests that IRV is used mostly in postal or computerised voting. Although the London Mayoral elections used this system (albeit with very transparent counting processes – we could see literally the leaderboard changing as we moved through the preferences!).

    It strikes me this is a sort of system that requires deep thought by the voter!

    A typical election in Zambia would have 7 Presidential Candidates and 14 MPs standing.

    The permutations for the poor lady would be mind boggling.

    Not to mention the counting process….

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  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_and_use_of_instant-runoff_voting

    "Today it is in use at a national level to elect the Australian House of Representatives, the Fijian House of Representatives and the President of Ireland. In Australia it is also used for elections to the legislative assemblies (lower houses) of all states and territories except Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, and for the Tasmanian Legislative Council (upper house).
    IRV is also used for municipal elections in various places in Australia, the United States, and New Zealand. Because of its relationship to the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system, IRV is used for by-elections in a some jurisdictions that use STV for ordinary parliamentary elections, such as the Republic of Ireland.
    "

    It strikes me this is a sort of system that requires deep thought by the voter!
A typical election in Zambia would have 7 Presidential Candidates and 14 MPs standing. 
The permutations for the poor lady would be mind boggling. 


    I think you're underestimating our rural elderly aunts.
    You should also remember that one doesn't have to rank every candidates. Typically, even with 14 MP candidates, there's really 3 or 4 that matter. So assuming at least one of them is a candidates your aunt does NOT want, she can just rank 3 of them and ignore the others.
    And honestly I don't think there's anything wrong with making people think harder about their votes.

    Not to mention the counting process….

    Now, that's a serious objection.

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  6. Those are the results of the last presidential election:
    Levy Mwanawasa (MMD) 42.98%
    Michael Sata (PF) 29.37%
    Hakainde Hichilema (UPND) [UDA] 25.32%
    Godfrey Miyanda (HP) 1.57%
    Winright Ngondo (APC) 0.76%

    Obviously the Ngondo votes and the Miyanda votes wouldn't have changed anything. The real question would have been for Hichilema and Sata voters to know if they supported each other or Mwanawasa as second choices. That kind of calculus isn't hard to make, I mean it's all about knowing if you're anti-Mwanawasa or not.

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  7. Actually, 2001 is a more interesting case.


    Levy Mwanawasa (MMD) 29.15%
    Anderson Mazoka (UPND) 27.20%
    Christon Tembo (FDD) 13.17%
    Tilyenji Kaunda (UNIP) 10.12%
    Godfrey Miyanda (HP) 8.09%
    Benjamin Mwila (ZRP) 4.92%
    Michael Sata (PF) 3.40%
    Nevers Mumba (NCC) 2.24%
    Gwendoline Konie (SDP) 0.59%
    Inonge Mbikusita-Lewanika (AZ) 0.57%
    Yobert Shamapande (NLD) 0.55%


    20% of the votes went to 7 candidates who received less than 10% of the votes ! All those people had to have a second choice or third choice among the top 4, right ?

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  8. An interesting side question is whether 50% + 1 would lead to more political consolidation or not. The argument advanced by the NCC is that it would. But it’s unclear to me why that need be the case, because the incentive rests heavily on getting through to the second round, and depending on the number of contestants, that would still be on provincial basis.

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  9. An interesting side question is whether 50% + 1 would lead to more political consolidation or not. The argument advanced by the NCC is that it would.

    I'm with you, I don't think it would but may be not for the same reasons.

    The thing with 50+1 is that it actually encourages candidates with no chance of winning to run, get the maxumum number of votes and then play power-brokerer.

    The upside, to me, is that the winner has more legitimacy, especially in a setting with strong incumbents. It prevents situations in which someone wins an election with 40% of the vote while two candidates who campaigned against him (and we'll assume got all the anti-incumbent vote) get 30% each.

    But then, it's also dangerous in countries with strong presidential powers. Let me explain why:

    Here are the elections results of the first (and only) democratic elections in my country (1992):

    Pascal Lissouba (UPADS)35.89% >>> 61.32%
    Bernard Kolelas (MCDDI) 20.32% >>> 38.68%
    Denis Sassou-Nguesso (PCT) 16.87%
    André Milongo (UDR) 10.18%
    Jean-Pierre Thystère Tchicaya (RDPS) 5.78%
    Joachim Yhombi-Opango (RDD) 3.49%

    As you can see, there was a run-off (there were also 5 or 6 more candidates who got less than 1%). Before, the run-off, Denis Sassou-Nguesso (the incumbent dictator) endorsed Pascal Lissouba. They signed an alliance deal and the endorsement was made live on TV.
    Less than a month after the new president and parliament were sworn in, Lissouba broke a big part of the deal: he retired half of the highest-ranking military officers and promoted others from his region (that's where i should say that the existing miltary leadership was obviously pro-Sassou as he was military himself and 3/4th of the high ranking officers were all from the same region).
    What happened after that was the huge mess, as PCT left the ruling coalition and titled the parliamentary balance towards the opposition. Since we had a french style constitution with a prime minister removable by the parliament, the new prime minister immediatly got censored. Then the president dissolved the parliament and called for new elections. There were protests, deaths, the military threatened a coup if the president didn't appoint a neutral prime minister etc.. And there were more protests, deaths after the election since it was close and by-elections in 2 consitituencies had to determine the majority.
    But in any case, this happened in a country where the president did loose something by not following on the deal that made him win the second round. In Zambia, I think that all that could happen would be loosing the parliamentary majority but that doesn't make the president powerless, does it ?

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  10. I think the upside of "more legitimacy" is certainly question as you have illustrated the Congo-Brazzaville example. Clearly the extent of its legitimacy depends on how much an incoming President can effectively hold onto to power. Incidentally, the Congo Brazzaville's example is slightly complicated by Angolan's intervention during the period you have described.

    I think systems that rely on "coalitions" for consolidation are inherently unstable, and that must be bad for investor confidence.

    So the question is really, what is the NCC hopping to get from the 50% + 1? If they think its consolidation, they might be in for a rude awakening!

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  11. I think the upside of "more legitimacy" is certainly question as you have illustrated the Congo-Brazzaville example. Clearly the extent of its legitimacy depends on how much an incoming President can effectively hold onto to power. Incidentally, the Congo Brazzaville's example is slightly complicated by Angolan's intervention during the period you have described.


    The Angolan intervention was not during the period I've described.
    The 1992/93 mess led to a civil war that started 2 months between the scheduled 1997 elections and Angolan intervened after months of civil war on one side.
    But it didn't complicate the situation. At least the bloodshed was over.

    I think systems that rely on "coalitions" for consolidation are inherently unstable, and that must be bad for investor confidence.

    As I've argued before, I don't think it's the case. There are a bunch of countries with coalition governments who receive plenty of investments. And once again, coalition governments may produce more stable policies because the policies only change at the margin.

    So the question is really, what is the NCC hopping to get from the 50% + 1? If they think its consolidation, they might be in for a rude awakening!

    Well, not getting a president elected with 28% of the votes is not exactly a bad thing.

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  12. ”As I've argued before, I don't think it's the case. There are a bunch of countries with coalition governments who receive plenty of investments.

    Some case studies would be good…

    And once again, coalition governments may produce more stable policies because the policies only change at the margin.”

    Depending on the nature of coalitions.

    ” Well, not getting a president elected with 28% of the votes is not exactly a bad thing.”

    Indeed, perhaps their aspirations are more modest.

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  13. ”As I've argued before, I don't think it's the case. There are a bunch of countries with coalition governments who receive plenty of investments.

Some case studies would be good…

    Well, countries like Israel, India, Italy, Germany, Holland, France (to a lesser extend), the whole of Scandinavia all have coalition governments, don't they ?

    Italy never had a government that finished its terms between Mussolini and the previous Berlusconi government. That's 50 years of chronic political instability. FIFTY YEARS. During which they experienced an economic miracle and a good amount of growth (and the few economic crisis they did experience had little to do with politics).

    (do you have case studies of coalition politics-induced unstability being bad for investment ?)

    And once again, coalition governments may produce more stable policies because the policies only change at the margin.”

Depending on the nature of coalitions.

    Well, in India or in France, there has been some quite remarkable policy reversals. But that's partly because the coalitions are built with the extremes. And because they're build on the extremes, they have little chances of brutal changes. The Communist parties of both countries may leave their coalitions with the Socialists (in France) or the Congress (in India) but they won't join the Right. So little risk of instability.
    In other places like Israel, Italy or Germany, there are centrist parties that play power-brokerer. If centrists leave the left to form a coalition with the right, you cannot expect a massive reversal of policies, since after all the new government just slightly moved to the right and still has to cater to centrists demands.

    For investors, those unstable coalition governments aren't likely to do things like raise taxes in a massive way or nationalize in a sudden way because the policies will stay mild.

    But I guess the nature of the coalition doesn't matter. It's the nature of the underlying institutions.

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  14. ”Well, countries like Israel, India, Italy, Germany, Holland, France (to a lesser extend), the whole of Scandinavia all have coalition governments, don't they ?”

    I should have been more precise. Really I meant countries from the developing world. Its no good comparing coalitions to developed nations which have other reasons for stable investment.

    ”(do you have case studies of coalition politics-induced unstability being bad for investment ?)”

    No, but what I have in mind are countries like Guinea Bissau with highly unstable governments, but still underperforming. The issue really is whether for poor nations coalition politics would complicate already delicate situations than aid it.

    ”But I guess the nature of the coalition doesn't matter. It's the nature of the underlying institutions”

    Yes. In particular decoupling the head of state from head of government is a crucial step I think.

    I have always thought that if the challenge in electoral reform is to have the correct balance between the benefits of perpetual incumbency (i.e. the advantage of having some form of stability) and perpetual contestability (i.e. the advantage of having so form of continuous competition and more representative governments), then can be best achieved by having a PR system that fully decouples the role of the head of state from a head of government. I think the Israeli system has achieved that balance pretty well.

    What do you think?

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  15. I should have been more precise. Really I meant countries from the developing world. Its no good comparing coalitions to developed nations which have other reasons for stable investment.

    Well, I mentionned India but that's a special case since coalition are "natural".

    Then you have Mauritius.
    They've been ruled by coalitions since 1976. And the coalitions are not stable either. Only once, a coalition with the same parties lasted for more than one election.

    And during all that time they attracted more foreign investment than anyone.

    I also think it's may be the only country that has genuine coalition politics, with 3 or 4 parties of equal sizes building alliances.

    No, but what I have in mind are countries like Guinea Bissau with highly unstable governments, but still underperforming. The issue really is whether for poor nations coalition politics would complicate already delicate situations than aid it.

    But the instability of Guinea-Bissau governments isn't orderly. Since their first presidential election in 1994, they still havent had a president that finished a term. They get removed by rebellions and coups. Not to mention the power-grabs attempted by those "democratically-elected" presidents.

    Then in countries like Congo-Brazzaville or Niger, there were political crisis involving a switch of a coalition partner to the opposition, but once again, their presidents in both cases broke the contract and attempted power-grabs.

    And even beyond that, just remember that nearly all of the poor countries have at best a strong executive with few competitive parties and a weak parliament and at worst, they're dictatorships.
    It's not like the record of those has been excellent.

    I have always thought that if the challenge in electoral reform is to have the correct balance between the benefits of perpetual incumbency (i.e. the advantage of having some form of stability) and perpetual contestability (i.e. the advantage of having so form of continuous competition and more representative governments), then can be best achieved by having a PR system that fully decouples the role of the head of state from a head of government. I think the Israeli system has achieved that balance pretty well.

    Well, every system has its pros and cons.
    You know I like parliamentary regimes and PR elections but I'm not sure it's the right solution to this problem.

    For instance, I tend to be partial to multi-constituency PR (preferably open-list à la Somaliland) because Israeli-style full one-constituency PR could easily increase ethnicization of politics. Parties could easily withdraw to their ethnic base and just work on increasing turn-out (legally or not). You have to make them go an compete "outside". Single-member constituencies whether FTTP or Two-Round are bad at doing that because when you know you'll get at best 30% of the vote, there's no incentive to compete. And those 30% of voters are basically disenfrachised.

    On incumbency, I tend to be quite radical. Costa Rica which is the longest running democracy in Latin America (no coup since 1948) has a one consecutive term limit for its presidents. They can compete again but cannot succeed themselves. Of course that doesn't mean a party cannot stay in power forever but it forces renewal of the political elites and avoids situation like UNIP's or excuses like "Mugabe hasn't groomed a successor yet" (he won't ever. just like Mobutu or Houphouet or Kaunda haven't).

    I tend to think that separating the head of state and the head of government is a good thing but I'm weary of confusion. I think the president ought to be either purely ceremonial or the regime has to be presidential. Many countries that have adopted semi-presidential constitutions inspired by the French 5th republic are quite lousy at separating the powers of the president and the prime minister and that alone leads to trouble (France isn't good at it either).

    And I could go on about other details..

    But in short, I'd say multi-constituency PR (preferably open-list) for the parliament and large powers for them (laws, budgets HAVE to come from the parliament) and either:

    - a ceremonial president (elder statesman) elected by the parliament by a qualified majority (2/3rd) for terms out-of-sync with the parliamentary terms. and a PM that has to be an MP who is head of government.
    - an active executive president elected for only one consecutive term with no legislative powers.

    And a constitution that bans amendments for the first 10 years and possibly prevents parliament from issuing legislation about itself (like wage raises or changes of voting system) by mandating an election in between. (in short, the salary increase starts to apply with the next parliament).

    what do you think ?

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  16. "Then you have Mauritius. They've been ruled by coalitions since 1976. And the coalitions are not stable either. Only once, a coalition with the same parties lasted for more than one election."

    Mauritius is interesting, though clearly much smaller in size. Any religious or ethnic differences, which threaten most coalitions, are therefore less pronounced.

    "And even beyond that, just remember that nearly all of the poor countries have at best a strong executive with few competitive parties and a weak parliament and at worst, they're dictatorships. It's not like the record of those has been excellent."

    No its about whether though systems are strong, its whether coalitions bring any pareto improvement and under what conditions that might be possible. The conditions are crucial.

    "But in short, I'd say multi-constituency PR (preferably open-list) for the parliament and large powers for them (laws, budgets HAVE to come from the parliament) and either"

    Open listing would certainly be interesting.

    I think PR system would fit in with general voting patterns in Zambia. Analysis of previous elections shows that by and large people vote for the party rather than the individual. Though I am unclear as to what extent that is simply indicative of the powerlessness the current political system exerts.

    This is crucial because a PR system loses some link between individuals and their local MP. Yes MPs are there for legislative purposes but in Africa the people expects much more than that. An MP is everthing, from a funeral organiser to wedding speaker! The other point is that effective legislation requires effective understanding of local preferences. PR systems in diverse and populous states could miss that.

    The "MP is everything" point can be addressed by effective decentralisation. The legislative point I think can be handled via more streamlined role for the legislature and more referendums like the Swiss.

    "a ceremonial president (elder statesman) elected by the parliament by a qualified majority (2/3rd) for terms out-of-sync with the parliamentary terms. and a PM that has to be an MP who is head of government"

    Similar to the British system. Except the Queen is beyond reach. Some might say having a PM elected by MPs encourages cronyism.

    "an active executive president elected for only one consecutive term with no legislative powers."

    That would be a dream in Africa! I can just picture it...a reduction in power? For many of them President makes them sound like Bush! If they had the sae powers but as PM they would not like losing the title!

    "And a constitution that bans amendments for the first 10 years and possibly prevents parliament from issuing legislation about itself (like wage raises or changes of voting system) by mandating an election in between. (in short, the salary increase starts to apply with the next parliament)."

    Not sure how that would work. For example, would that prevent MPs from giving theselves more power to oversee something?

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  17. Mauritius is interesting, though clearly much smaller in size. Any religious or ethnic differences, which threaten most coalitions, are therefore less pronounced.


    Up until the 70's Mauritius was considered a basket-case precisely because of its incredible ethnic and religious diversity and its high density.
    So no, Mauritius has no advantage on that front, quite the contrary actually.

    No its about whether though systems are strong, its whether coalitions bring any pareto improvement and under what conditions that might be possible. The conditions are crucial.

    What's the loss ? We keep hearing about unstability and how it scares investors but I still think it's irrelevant. The name of the president has less consequences on an investor decision than the country's policy.
    And is there any argument but the stability of the executive ?

    I think PR system would fit in with general voting patterns in Zambia. Analysis of previous elections shows that by and large people vote for the party rather than the individual. Though I am unclear as to what extent that is simply indicative of the powerlessness the current political system exerts.

    Well open-list would give voters flexibility. Primaries would too.

    It's very possible than the voters vote for parties and not candidates because it's a second-best choice.

    This is crucial because a PR system loses some link between individuals and their local MP. Yes MPs are there for legislative purposes but in Africa the people expects much more than that. An MP is everthing, from a funeral organiser to wedding speaker!

    May be that's not such a loss.. lol.
    May be then they'll get in the business of legislating !

    The other point is that effective legislation requires effective understanding of local preferences. PR systems in diverse and populous states could miss that. 


    Multi-constituency list mitigates that, doesn't it ?

    The legislative point I think can be handled via more streamlined role for the legislature and more referendums like the Swiss.

    That too. And the possibility of recalls and other kind of retribution for MPs who legislate against the will of their people.

    Similar to the British system. Except the Queen is beyond reach. Some might say having a PM elected by MPs encourages cronyism.

    Cronyism ? How so ?

    That would be a dream in Africa! I can just picture it...

    If we can do 2 terms, why not 1 ?
    I really never understood the rationale behind thinking terms have to be limited but only beyond 2.

    a reduction in power? For many of them President makes them sound like Bush! If they had the sae powers but as PM they would not like losing the title!

    LOL.

    Not sure how that would work. For example, would that prevent MPs from giving theselves more power to oversee something?

    Well, my issue is really about election law or MP comprensation. It's on those 2 fronts that they're the most self-serving.

    As far as powers to oversee something, I'm not sure about the kind of case you have in mind. Is it giving themselves the powers to perform a function that didn't exist ? Or to perform a function that belongs to another branch ?

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  18. Cho,

    This is crucial because a PR system loses some link between individuals and their local MP.

    In FPP, you vote for an MP. In PR, you vote for a party, which then determines who represents what constituency. Although voters can express a preference.

    Yes MPs are there for legislative purposes but in Africa the people expects much more than that. An MP is everthing, from a funeral organiser to wedding speaker!

    Functions that could be taken up by a local council leader. Especially if 50% of the national budget was spent on local government.

    The other point is that effective legislation requires effective understanding of local preferences. PR systems in diverse and populous states could miss that.

    And who would be better situated than a local council leader, who is a local person and lives in his council year-around.

    On the other hand, the MP will always be there in the dual role of a local constituency representative, as well as the representative of the national party, which is why MPs can be parachuted into a local constituency by the national party.

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  19. Random,

    ”Mauritius is interesting, though clearly much smaller in size. Any religious or ethnic differences, which threaten most coalitions, are therefore less pronounced. “Up until the 70's Mauritius was considered a basket-case precisely because of its incredible ethnic and religious diversity and its high density. So no, Mauritius has no advantage on that front, quite the contrary actually.”

    My point was more about the size. It’s a small country, which has helped minimises its diverse ethnic differences. But that is not say being small guarantees you growth!

    ”No its about whether though systems are strong, its whether coalitions bring any pareto improvement and under what conditions that might be possible. The conditions are crucial.” What's the loss ? We keep hearing about unstability and how it scares investors but I still think it's irrelevant. The name of the president has less consequences on an investor decision than the country's policy. And is there any argument but the stability of the executive ?”

    I still think understanding the conditions when its more likely to be successful is important, because the question often countries face is what system is more likely to deliver a more representative and pro-growth political system. My intuition suggests that there’s no one system that would do that, but its likely to vary from locality to locality. So understanding when coalitions do well becomes critical.

    ”It's very possible than the voters vote for parties and not candidates because it's a second-best choice.”

    Surely its simply a function of the inability of the MP to effect change? I mean people understand that the institutional framework just is not there for politicians to make a different at the individual level. There’s actually a good illustration of this – independent candidates. In Zambia, independent candidates mostly tend to do well when they are rich. Now of course may be financial power might explain why rich independents do well, (although up against a rich party supported incumbent that does not quite explain) but it might also be possible that people see them as agents who can command influence, in a way that an ordinary independent can’t.

    ”The other point is that effective legislation requires effective understanding of local preferences. PR systems in diverse and populous states could miss that”. “ Multi-constituency list mitigates that, doesn't it ?

    Explain a bit more how this works?

    Incidentally whilst “understanding of local preferences” has some advantages, I also think it has the disadvantages of forcing locally elected MPs to vote only in line with what is good for their local area! So for that reason, I think PR works well..


    ”Similar to the British system. Except the Queen is beyond reach. Some might say having a PM elected by MPs encourages cronyism. “ “Cronyism ? How so ?”

    I guess my point was that if the PM was chosen by MPs, it might be easier to bribe them that it is to bribe the masses. But then I remember this blog Buying the electorate… lol!


    ”As far as powers to oversee something, I'm not sure about the kind of case you have in mind. Is it giving themselves the powers to perform a function that didn't exist ? Or to perform a function that belongs to another branch ?”

    I meant giving themselves power to perform a function that didn’t exist.

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  20. MrK,

    ”In FPP, you vote for an MP. In PR, you vote for a party, which then determines who represents what constituency. Although voters can express a preference.”

    That’s what I meant – A PR system loses you some link between individuals and their local MP. But Random has suggested “multi constituency PR” minimizes this problem. I wait for him to explain how that works. As I note above in response to Random I do think that minimizing the “local link” can have its advantages, including avoiding “local capture” i.e. avoiding being inclined to vote on regional or ethnic lines!
    ”Functions that could be taken up by a local council leader. Especially if 50% of the national budget was spent on local government. “

    No..I was not referring to functions they are supposed to perform. Those are the functions people EXPECT you to perform. Do you know that in Zambia (and much of Africa ) MPs keep bags of mealie meal or rice at home in case of “emergency” ? Locals always drop in! lol!

    ”And who would be better situated than a local council leader, who is a local person and lives in his council year-around. “

    The best way is to combine PR with more effective decentralization. Lets see how the NCC deals with both.

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  21. My point was more about the size. It’s a small country, which has helped minimises its diverse ethnic differences. But that is not say being small guarantees you growth!

    but, Cho, being small doesn't help minimize diversity, quite the opposite. Or rather, being small and diverse exarcerbates conflicts. Think about Rwanda which is one of the less diverse African countries.

    And Mauritius had a special kind of diversity, it was racial and religious, all stuck on a tiny insland with dwilling ressources. There couldn't be no division of "home turf", no possibility of withdrawing to your base.

    What I said is that Mauritius because it's small and diverse had in theory, a worse start than say, Zambia.

    I still think understanding the conditions when its more likely to be successful is important, because the question often countries face is what system is more likely to deliver a more representative and pro-growth political system. My intuition suggests that there’s no one system that would do that, but its likely to vary from locality to locality. So understanding when coalitions do well becomes critical.

    Sure.
    I'm just saying that the alternative has to be scrutinized the same way. Just remember that this discussion thread started when you mentioned the stability of non-coalition systems.

    Explain a bit more how this works? 


    Simple. Instead of doing like Israel where each party has a national list and everybody votes for it and the seats get assigned in proportion of the national vote, you create constituencies. Like instead of 120 single-member constituencies, you create 40 constituencies with 3 seats and those 3 seats get assigned proportionally.

    Of course, the number of constituencies is reduced so they're bigger and the link may be less organic. But then again, it leaves room for loosers and minorities and all that. And once again, it prevents the "base mobilization" stategies or mitigates them.

    It's not perfect and it can be tweaked and reaaranged and systems can be mixed but it's something of a compromise.

    ncidentally whilst “understanding of local preferences” has some advantages, I also think it has the disadvantages of forcing locally elected MPs to vote only in line with what is good for their local area! So for that reason, I think PR works well..

    It's worse than that. It gives incentives to MPs to vote only in line with the preference of the majority (or the plurality) of their area.

    I guess my point was that if the PM was chosen by MPs, it might be easier to bribe them that it is to bribe the masses.

    it puts personalization and personal ambitions in check though (by reminding leaders that they need their party). And the "masses" vote every 5 years, MPs can censor a PM who steps out of line.

    I meant giving themselves power to perform a function that didn’t exist.

    That's why I like simple constitutions. I think one should:
    - define the powers of the executive precisely.
    - define the inaliable rights of individuals in large terms.
    - define the powers of the judiciary (protect the rights of the individuals first, apply the law of the parliament second)
    - give the rest to parliament so they can have enough flexibility to legislate any new function.

    And in doubt, it's citizen > parliament > executive. Or a referendum.

    No..I was not referring to functions they are supposed to perform. Those are the functions people EXPECT you to perform. Do you know that in Zambia (and much of Africa ) MPs keep bags of mealie meal or rice at home in case of “emergency” ? Locals always drop in! lol!

    In Congo, the big deal is about the "parliamentary visit allowance funds".
    Basically in the budget each MP has certain amounts allowed to pay for his visits in his constituencies, the communication about it, a local office, other feedback mechanisms..
    People expect their MPs to spend it on them. And they usually do, buying something for the school or TVs (in World Cup years) or a generator etc..

    The weird thing is that, one expect a well-functionning parliament to be full of MPs squeezing a road here, a bridge there, a generator here, an additional teacher there, some fishnet or whatever in the general budget for their constituencies.
    But no, they spend it out of their "visit" funds or their salaries.

    I guess it says a lot about the powers of the executive. But also about the patron-client relationships, politicians like to have.

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