Thursday, September 23, 2021

Voting for party blocs may eat into democracy, say analysts

Voting for party blocs may eat into democracy, say analysts

A senior MP has suggested that voters at general elections should choose parties rather than individuals.

PETALING JAYA: Two political analysts said Azalina Othman Said’s proposal for Malaysians to vote for party blocs rather than individual candidates in the general election may not be the best idea.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, commenting on the proposal by the former deputy speaker of the Dewan Rakyat, said: “A problem with this is that you don’t actually know who the person you are electing to Parliament is. Because if a party wins 30% of the votes and it’s allocated 30 seats, then it’s essentially up to the party to decide who gets to hold those seats.”

However, in the traditional constituency voting method, voters would decide which candidate and party they preferred.

“Democracy is ultimately about voting for the candidate as opposed to the party of your choice,” he said.

Oh Ei Sun.

“It is bad enough that we have a system where the voters don’t get to directly elect our chief executive or prime minister, or directly vote on proposed legislation in the form of referendums, why create yet another immediate layer of barriers against direct democracy?”

Academic Azmi Hassan said he was more inclined towards having individual representatives in the voting system, and preferably individual candidates who are independent of parties, as this would be good for democracy.

Both analysts suggested several ways to improve the current voting system.

Azmi Hassan.

Oh suggested that if the winner did not get 50% of the votes, then the two candidates with the highest votes should go through a run-off vote to determine who became the MP.

Such a system would be similar to the French presidential election which has a two-round system in order to determine a proper majority winner.

Oh said another way would be to split the number of directly elected MPs and those who are chosen by the party.

“I understand some people’s preference for voting strictly along party lines without regard to individual candidates, and I am happy to compromise, so a mixture of both forms would satisfy both our preferences. This is being done in a number of countries such as Germany and Japan.”

Azmi suggested improving the voting system by implementing non-physical voting methods.

“With the ongoing pandemic it would be a hassle to vote as you have to be physically there to do so. E-voting should be used and the laws should be amended so that physical voting is not the only way.”

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