So we wound up talking a little bit in the Middle East Thread about PR systems
, and how (in most of our opinions) they're superior to the current first-past-the-post (FPTP)
/winner-take-all voting systems employed here in the States. I can only speak for myself, but the main reasons I prefer parliamentary and/or PR systems to our current bicameral legislature/tripartite government are the following:
PR systems are, in theory, more representative of actual ideological positions of the electorate
If let's say 1-2% of the U.S. public were diehard communists, under the present system they'd basically have nowhere to turn for political representation, as neither viable political party is paying much attention to that constituency. Under a PR system, if I can meet some minimum threshold (often something like 5% of the national or regional/provincial popular vote), I suddenly have a good shot at gaining a seat on the national/provincial legislative body.
It's more difficult to wind up with divided government in a parliamentary system
Because the executive is chosen from the governing coalition of the legislature, it should in theory be ideologically compatible with the legislature by default. You avoid a situation where because the Prime Minister's party no longer has a majority in the legislature, that the executive can't pass any of its legislation/make executive or judicial appointments/conduct the general business of the state.
PR systems create more ideologically coherent political parties
I'm sure there'll be disagreement on this, and I'm more than willing to hear how I'm mistaken on this count, but in my opinion the kinds of parties that should in theory result from a PR system should be somewhat narrower in scope and more internally consistent in their ideology. An example of a party that I think is ideologically inconsistent, specifically because of the nature of two-party politics, is the Republican Party here in the U.S. I feel that it's only through a warping of normal political positions that you can have people in a single party who believe that: A) the U.S. government should be as small and unintrusive as possible, but also that B) it should legislate who you can marry and whether or not you're forced to carry an unborn child to term, as well as C) maintain the world's most expansive defense sector whose spending can never be reduced.
Less emphasis on personality politics, much more emphasis on party positions
Parliamentary systems typically operate off of party lists. As a citizen, you cast your vote for a political party, and based on what percentage of the vote your preferred party gets, that many names down the list will win seats in the local or national representative body. No personal campaigning, no endless fundraising based on personal connections and "charisma" (whatever that means).
There's a highly relevant phenomenon that's worth mentioning: Duverger's law
. In summary, it maintains that FPTP systems will necessarily result in a two-party state, because there's little electoral space for more than two viable parties; basically, you'd really only ever consider one alternative to your preferred candidate, because everyone knows the third guy has no chance of winning.
I should also mention that, iirc, every single election in the U.S. isn't necessarily FPTP, but the most important ones (national presidential elections, Senate and House elections) are all FPTP, to the best of my knowledge.
Sound good? Have I missed something about the U.S. political system that would keep a parliamentary system with PR from being viable here (outside of a simple lack of political will to enact such radical change)?