The Politics of Parliamentary Systems

GermanElectionAs German voters head to the poll this weekend and interesting challenge is emerging for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democrats. While the CDU appears to be well positioned to retain its dominant position in parliament, early polling suggests that their coalition partner, the Free Democrats, may underperform. If the Free Democrats do as badly as expected, Merkel may be forced to find a new coalition partner or to include a third party in the ruling coalition, making the government more fragile. Some analysis are even projecting another “grand coalition” that forces rival center-right Christian Democrats and center-left Social Democrats into a government together.

The news is not good for Merkel, whose party is ironically expected to win their largest share of the vote ever. But that’s the politics of parliamentary systems. The voting system encourages a larger number of parties, representing a broader array of interests and issues, to participate. But because of the large number of parties, compromise between rivals is often necessary for government to function effectively, and no single party is usually able to rule without the assistance of others.  It will be interesting to see what the vote—scheduled for Sunday—produces.

What do you think? Does the more inclusive nature of proportional representation systems like that of Germany offset the disadvantage of greater instability? Or is the stability of first-past-the-post electoral systems preferable to the inclusiveness of parliamentary systems? Take the poll or leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

One response to “The Politics of Parliamentary Systems

  1. I feel this is a prime example of how multiple relevant political parties has pros and cons. Multiple personalities and views are represented and heard, but it is necessary for these groups to cooperate to accomplish legislation. All groups need to have common goals or compromise for the better of the country. If not nothing can be accomplished. Its a delicate system, but when ran properly can be very effective.

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