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Report No. 170

3.2.6.1. The fact of 'wasting' away of the votes cast in the FPP system has also been recognised in other parts of the world. Thus in the response of the Electoral Reform Society to the Commission on Local Government and the Scottish Parliament, (July, 1998), it has been mentioned inter alia, that the FPP system distorted the expressed wishes of those who actually voted by observing thus:-

"Local Democracy" Question 2 One of the reasons for poor turnouts at local government election is that the votes of large numbers of electors will not count, either within their local constituency or in the overall composition of the Council. Until this has been corrected, changing administrative arrangements will only have a limited effect.

The magnitude of this problem is not often appreciated. For example, in the local authority elections in April, 1995 in Edinburgh, 49% of those who actually voted cast a vote that had no effect in securing the election of any representative as they were for losing candidates. It is common in all first-past-the-post (FPTP) elections for between 30% and 60% of the votes cast to be 'wasted' in this way. In circumstances where they know that one party holds a seat with a large majority, many electors are discouraged from turning out to vote."

"The results of the local authority elections in April, 1995 show well the extent to which the present FPTP voting system distorts the expressed wishes of those who actually vote. In the city of Glasgow Council, Labour, with 61% of the votes, took 77 of the 83 seats, i.e. 93%. There were also serious distortions among the smaller parties in this election: the Conservatives with 7% of the votes, took 3 seats, while the SNP gained only 1 seat despite having 23% of the votes."

3.2.6.2. The Report of the Independent Commission on the voting System ("Jenkins Report") summarises the Main Electoral Systems in the world. These include

(i) First Past the Post (FPTP)

(ii) The Alternative Vote (AV)

(iii) Supplementary vote (SU)

(iv) Second Ballot

(v) List Systems

(vi) Single Transferable Vote (STV)

(vii) Mixed Systems: the Additional member System (including AV or SV Top-up) and Parallel Systems (AMS)

3.2.6.3. The terms of reference of the said Commission given in December, 1997, was to recommend the 'best alternative system' or combination of systems to the existing commonly-called 'First Past the Post' system of election to the Westminister Parliament. In doing this, it was asked to take into account four not entirely compatible 'requirements'. They were: i) broad proportionality; (ii) the need for stable government; (iii) an extention of voter choice, and (iv) the maintenance of a link between MPs and geographical constituencies.

3.2.6.4. The Commission set out the basis of fair election viz., to the concept of 'fairness' in electoral outcomes, the place of political parties; and the role of Members of Parliament.

3.2.6.4A. It emphasises that fairness to voters is the first essential. A primary duty underlying an electoral system is to represent the wishes of the electorate as effectively as possible. The Commission observes that the major fault of the First past the Post in this context is that it distorts the desires of the voters. It emphasises that the fact that voters do not get the representation they want is more important than that the parties do not get the seats to which they think they are entitled.

3.2.6.5. After going through the problems/advantages/disadvantages of the existing First Past the Post system, the said Commission recommended, inter alia as under:

"The best alternative for Britain to the existing First Past the Post system is a two-vote mixed system which can be described as either limited AMS or AV Top-up. The majority of MPs (80 to 85%) would continue to be elected on an individual constituency basis, with the remainder elected on a corrective Top-up basis which would significantly reduce the disproportionality and the geographical divisiveness which are inherent in FPTP. But it cannot be denied that democracy postulates the working out of a system which is best suited to the peculiar needs of the country."

3.2.6.6. It appears that a committee appointed to suggest electoral reforms in Spain, prepared the following summary on an overview of the elctoral systems obtaining in various countries.

"Summary of Electoral System TypesThere are hundreds of electoral systems currently in use and many more permutations on each form, but for the sake of simplicity we have categorised electoral systems into three broad families:

.the plurality-majority,

.the semi-propotional, and

.the proportional.

Within these three we have ten "sub-families".

.First Past the Post (FPTP),

.the Block Vote (BV),

.the Alternative Vote (AV), and

.the Two-Round System (TRS) are all

plurality-majority systems.

.Parallel systems,

.the Limited Vote (LV) and

.the Single Non-Transferable Vote (SNTV)

are semi-proportional systems.

.List PR,

.Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and the Single Transferable Vote (STV) are all proportional systems.

Every one of the 212 parliamentary electoral systems listed in The Global Distribution of Electoral Systems can be categorised under one of these ten headings, and this family tree, though rooted in long-established conventions, is the first to take account of all the electoral systems used for parliamentary elections in the world today, regardless of wider questions of democracy and legitimacy. We hope it offers a clear and concise guide to the choice among them.

The most common way to look at electoral systems is to group them by how closely they translate national votes won into parliamentary seats won; that is, how proportional they are. To do this, one needs to look at both the vote-seat relationship and the level of wasted votes, For example, South Africa used a classically proportional electoral system for its first democratic elections of 1994, and with 62.65% of the popular vote the African National Congress (ANC) won 63% of the national seats (see South Africa: Election Systems and Conflict Management).

The electoral system was highly proportional, and the number of wasted votes (i.e., those which were cast for parties which did not win seats in the Assembly) was only 0.8% of the total. In direct contrast the year before, in the neighbouring nation of Lesotho, a classically majoritarian First Past the Post (FPTP) electoral system had resulted in the Basotho Congress Party winning every seat in the 65 member parliament with 75% of the popular vote; there was no parliamentary opposition at all, and the 25% of electors who voted for other parties were completely unrepresented. This result was mirrored in Djibouti's Block Vote election of 1992 when all 65 parliamentary seats were won by the Rasemblement Populaire pour le progr s with 75% of the vote.

However, under some circumstances, non-proportional electoral systems (such as FPTP) can accidentally give rise to relatively proportional overall results. This was the case in a third Southern African country, Malwai, in 1994. In that election the leading party, the United Democratic Front won 48% of the seats with 46% of the votes, the Malawaian Congress Party won 32% of the seats with 34% of the votes, and the Alliance for Democracy won 20% of the seats with 19% of the votes. The overall level of proportionality was high, but the clue to the fact that this was not inherently a proportional system, and so cannot be categorized as such, was that the wasted votes still amounted to almost one-quarter of all votes cast."

3.2.6.7. There may varied electoral systems prevalent in the world but many may not suit conditions in our society. On a threadbare analysis of various systems, we feel that a combination of FPP and the list systems as detailed in this report may best meet out needs.

3.2.7. Accordingly, the Law Commission is of the opinion that the list system should be introduced as suggested by it for the reasons assigned hereinbefore. The main objections against this system are two-fold: (a) that it will lead to and encourage casteist and communal voting patterns and would lead to proliferation of caste based and religion based political parties and (b) that under the list system, the umbilical cord between the voters in the constituency and the MPs/MLAs is missing. In our opinion both the said objections are not well-founded. We shall deal with both of them hereinbelow.

3.2.8. So far as the objection that the list system would lead to casteist and communal voting patterns and caste-based and religion-based political parties is concerned, the apprehension on this score can be allayed by providing that the votes polled by such candidate whose deposit has been forfeited under sub-section (4) of section 158 of the Act shall not be taken into consideration while tabulating the votes for the purpose of choosing the members on the basis of the list system.

It may be noticed that according to sub-section (4) of section 158 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 the deposit made by a candidate who "is not elected and the number of valid votes polled by him does not exceed one-sixth of the total number of valid votes polled by all the candidates" is liable to be forfeited. In other words, if any candidate polls less than 16.25% of the valid votes polled, his security deposit is liable to be forfeited.

If it is provided that the votes polled by candidates whose security deposit has been forfeited under the aforesaid provision shall not be taken into account for the purpose of list system, the apprehension that list system would lead to proliferation of caste-based and religion-based political parties or that it would result in encouraging or promoting casteist or communal voting pattern would not survive.



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