Minority rules

Penny Wong gives a lucid account of the burdens, pitfalls and compromises inherent in governing (“Major parties better than irresponsible minor ones”, The Australian, 14/3). But she conflates government with the idea of a single party holding a parliamentary majority, an assumption which has recently been challenged by election results in several countries, including Australia.

The dominance of major parties is almost guaranteed by our one-member-per- electorate system under which a party could conceivably win 49% of the vote without winning a single seat in parliament.

This system engenders voter disengagement because it fails to represent the fact that there is no single majority but rather several minority views which overlap on different issues. This reality is better reflected by fairer, proportional electoral systems such as those used in many countries, including New Zealand.

Under such systems, without the need to be all things to all people, minor parties flourish. Government is formed by negotiation after an election. People can vote for their real party of choice, confident that they will be a part of the negotiations.

To the limited extent our system allows minor parties to succeed, they serve to increase democracy. It is clear the Australian electorate wants more of this, not less.

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