Empty seats (summary)

1 and 3 June 2017, translated from Dutch

What is this?

This is a summary of a number of earlier articles, most of them in Dutch, except this one which is an English translation from Interlingua.

Multiple parties

The Netherlands has a multi-party system. Other than in Germany, there is no 5% election threshold, although of course parliament having 150 seats results in a practical threshold of 0,67%.

Other than France, the US and the UK, we do not have a constituency voting system, where every constituency can have at most one representative in Parliament.

I think our multi-party proportional voting makes for a good system. Every voice is heard, everybody can feel represented.

Loss of time

But there are also disadvantages to such a system: many political parties have seats in parliament, some are rather small, most have with diverging views. This makes it very hard to form a government that is supported by a parliamentary majority. Every time again after an election, this leads to difficult and lengthy coalition negotiations.

Govern on behalf of non-voters

To solve this, what I propose is: use the turnout. 75% is already considered quite good in practice, but those 25% who did not vote would account for a parliamentary fraction of considerable size, if you simple included their non-votes in the count.

Those non-voters, for various reasons, don’t seem to care. So I say: then treat them as don’t care votes. Make parliamentary decisions for them and without them. If they don’t like that, they should have gone voting.

This would result in a considerable parliamentary group without any live parliamentarians, but which does have voting rights. How the group votes in parliament is agreed upon beforehand:

Voting behaviour

This results in a stabilising effect of a Second Chamber that is nevertheless critical.

The agreed-upon voting behaviour makes it possible to count the Empty Seats towards any intended governing coalition. Thus regardless of election results, there are always many options for building a government with sufficient support.

Fast and decisive

Coalition talks can be brief and government policies can be powerful, clear and effective. The big disadvantage of proportional representation, which is the difficulty of finding a viable government coalition, has been overcome.


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