From Israel to Italy, democracy is complicated

Israel has one of the simplest political systems in the democratic world [my explanation here] – a single legislative chamber and a national list method for electing it – and yet the outcome of the recent general election on 22 January was so messy that five weeks later the country does still not have a new coalition government.

By contrast, Italy has one of the most complicated political systems in the democratic world [my explanation here] – two legislative chambers, each with its own bizarre method of election – and the outcome of the general election of Sunday and Monday is that one party has a bare majority in the Chamber of Deputies but nothing like a majority in the Senate (“the worst of nightmares,” said a columnist in the ‘Repubblica’ newspaper).

Generally, first-past-the-post electoral systems are thought to produce clearer results, but Britain – my explanation of its political system here – has its first coalition government, since the Second World War because no single party obtained a majority in the General Election of 2010, and the United States – my explanation of its political system here – has legislation gridlock because the Democrats control the Presidency and the Senate but the Republicans control the House of Representatives and have a filibusting minority in the Senate.

The lesson? Democracy can and does take many forms, each system has its strengths and weaknesses, and all systems have their own complications.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>