Chapter 10: Will of the people only fulfilled with proportional representation?





1st Introduction

2nd Stable majorities in a majority voting system

3rd Danger of interest groups entering parliament

4th The influence of radical parties

5th Insufficient sensitivity in the case of a proportional representation

6th Uncertainty of the election outcome

7th Disadvantages of the existing mixed system




1st Introduction


In this chapter, we will address the question of whether the will of the people can be expressed the best way through proportional representation. Democracies represent a political system in which all power emanates from the people and in parliamentary democracies the will of the people is ascertained by holding a general, equal and secret election at intervals of four to five years, in which the individual parties seek to be elected to parliament and the parties that have obtained the majority of votes form the government.


Whether it is possible to realise the will of the people through parliamentary elections depends on the question of when we can say that the will of the people has been fulfilled. We cannot assume that in elections all voters prefer the same politicians and the same decisions. As a rule, the individual voters have quite different ideas about what the right decision is for the political problems at hand.


In general, it is assumed that the will of the people is expressed in the opinion of the majority. But already here, a kind of compromise is assumed. First and foremost, one should actually only speak of the will of a population having been fully expressed when there is unanimity, when everyone considers the same solution to a problem at hand to be correct. This conception already results from the fact that in a representative democracy - also in every liberal constitutional state - all citizens are equal before the law. There is initially no reason to place the opinion of a certain group - no matter how much it may correspond to the opinion of a majority - above the opinion of another group, the minority. With regard to the common good, every opinion - we will for once assume that only morally impeccable opinions are expressed - is of equal value.


This principle of unanimity corresponds to the Pareto criterion in the welfare theory of economics, which was formulated by the founder of modern welfare theory. Vilfredo Pareto is concerned with the question of when a certain state of affairs or a certain measure can be described in a scientifically sound manner as increasing welfare. The Pareto criterion states that an increase in the welfare of the entire population (group) can only be scientifically confirmed if at least one individual has experienced an increase in welfare and at the same time no individual has experienced an impairment of its welfare.


If we now assume that every individual acts rationally in the sense that, in a vote (election), he or she only votes for those solutions which promise him or her a welfare gain, the application of this Pareto criterion will automatically presuppose that only those decisions can be regarded as corresponding to the will of the population which were taken unanimously (perhaps with certain abstentions).


Now, this rule should not be interpreted in the sense of utilitarianism or hedonism. According to the utilitarianism developed by Bentham, people strive for maximum utility and try to avoid misuse, and the welfare of a population is then realised when the greatest possible utility of the greatest possible number is realised. Hedonism further narrows this formula by equating utility with pleasure and disutility with displeasure.


While it is true that a large part of the liberal founders of economic science indeed started from utilitarian and hedonistic premises, Joseph Schumpeter stated that the economic principle and thus also the Pareto criterion need by no means to be interpreted in this narrow form. The Pareto criterion is rather about the fact that self-determination is only granted if each individual can decide for himself which alternative he considers to be right, regardless of whether he came to this decision because he expects a material benefit (or even pleasure) from this decision or because he considers this alternative to be the right one for moral reasons.


In the harsh reality, however, one will find very few political solutions that benefit completely all individuals or at least cause no harm to any individual, and for the same reasons, very few decisions are likely to be adopted unanimously.


One might be willing to accept this with the argument that if one cannot find a solution that everyone can agree to, one should simply refrain completely from making changes; after all, it is better if no one comes to harm than if the utility of some is offset by the harm of others. According to Pareto's thesis, ideas of utility cannot be compared interpersonally and thus cannot be set off against each other.


This line of argument is not convincing, however, since doing nothing can also have negative consequences; after all, most political proposals arise from the fact that the existing order has led to inadequacies that have caused harm to many citizens. Political inaction itself represents one of the alternatives, so that even if one refrains from finding a solution, one is in a sense violating the Pareto criterion. One is then faced with the fact that no matter what one decides, even in the case of doing nothing, partial damage is caused in any case, so that one is only faced with the choice of selecting the alternative with the least damage.


But how to measure which alternative has the least harm or the most utility? Traditional democratic theory sees this requirement as fulfilled when a political proposal achieves a majority of votes. However, this is only a rather imperfect solution. The harm experienced by individual citizens through the individual measures or even through doing nothing is usually quite different, yet the majority principle in no way asks whether the harm to the minority is great or small.


Thus, it corresponds to the majority rule if 51% of the voters would have experienced minimal damage with the rejected solution, but if at the same time 49% of the voters would have experienced existential damage with the solution preferred by the majority. Now, this example may show an extreme case, which occurs only very rarely in practice. Nevertheless, it contradicts all moral concepts when a measure comes into effect in which the winners only experience a minimal increase in utility, but a considerable minority suffers extreme damage.


Precisely because of these shortcomings, all constitutions of representative democracies provide that, although the majority has the decisive role, the outvoted minority has a number of minority rights which may not be abolished by any majority, no matter how large. These are human rights, i.e. rights to which every citizen is entitled. These include, above all, the prohibition of all forms of discrimination and, most importantly, the inviolability of human dignity. Only both institutions together, the majority principle as well as the observance of human rights, guarantee that decisions in a representative democracy correspond to the will of the people.


The result of an election also depends on how the cast votes are counted. A distinction is made here between majority and proportional representation. Under the majority system, the candidate who received the majority of votes is determined for each constituency; this candidate moves into parliament, and the votes cast for the other candidates are not taken into account. In proportional representation, the distribution of seats in parliament corresponds to the percentage share that a party was able to achieve in the election as a whole in all constituencies. If a party S was able to achieve 35% of the voters in the election, this party also receives 35% of the parliamentary seats.


Sometimes mixed systems are present, such as in the FRG of Germany. In the FRG, each voter has two votes in the Bundestag election. With regard to the first vote, as in the majority system, the candidate with the most votes in each constituency is elected to parliament. The second vote, on the other hand, as in the proportional representation system, serves to allocate to each party as many seats as necessary to ensure that the percentage composition of the parties in parliament corresponds to the share that the parties were able to achieve in the population.


Problems always arise with the mixed system when a party manages to send more direct candidates to parliament than its percentage share of the electoral votes. In the FRG, this problem is solved by creating overhang mandates in this case, i.e. that this party can fill additional parliamentary seats so that every candidate who had won a majority in the direct election can also enter parliament.


It is obvious that even with the same distribution of votes in the population, the composition of parliaments under majority voting differs from that under proportional representation, and this means at the same time that the distribution of parliamentary seats among the individual parties under majority voting differs more or less from the proportion of votes that the individual party was able to obtain in the population. Let us illustrate this consequence with an example.


For the sake of simplicity, let us assume that there are only two parties (K and L) and that the country was divided into 100 constituencies of equal size. Party K has obtained 51% of the votes in all constituencies. In the case of a majority voting system, party K is therefore awarded all seats, whereas in the case of a proportional representation system, party K could also achieve a majority, but only 51% of the seats and thus only a narrow majority in parliament.


Of course, this is an extreme example. In reality, each party has certain strongholds in which it can achieve a majority of votes in any case, so that both parties are also represented in parliament. Our example has shown, however, that the composition of parliament can by no means be expected to correspond exactly to the share of voters of the parties. Experience has shown that the party that has obtained the majority of votes can generally obtain a much higher share of parliamentary seats than corresponds to the share of the electorate of that party.


What are the arguments in favour of proportional representation and majority voting? The advocates of proportional representation point out that only in the case of proportional representation the composition of parliament corresponds to the structure of the electorate, whereas in the case of majority voting system the composition of parliament deviates more or less from the composition of the electorate. The fact as such can hardly be disputed. What remains questionable, however, is the tacit assumption that the will of the majority in the population is only expressed if parliament is a reflection of the electoral composition. We will show later in this section that this assumption can very well be questioned.



2nd Stable majorities in a majority voting system


However, let us first consider the arguments put forward by the advocates of the majority voting system. The arguments in favour of majority voting system are that it guarantees greater stability and sensitivity than proportional representation. This is true for several reasons.


First of all, it has been shown empirically that the respective governing party in a majority voting system usually has a full majority of parliamentary seats, whereas governments in a system of proportional representation very often only have extremely narrow majorities of one or two votes. Sometimes the government has no majority at all, it forms a minority cabinet and is dependent on individual members of the opposition voting in favour of the government bill in individual cases, or on individual opposition parties supporting the government without participating in the government in terms of personnel.


In these cases, the government has to fear for the majority for every legislative proposal. If it only has a narrow majority, it runs the risk of losing the vote and having to resign only because one or two parliamentarians of the governing parties could not take part in the vote due to illness or other absences. Note that the government is falling here not because it is pursuing a wrong policy that is not shared by the majority of the population, but for purely coincidental reasons that have nothing to do with the real issue.


With a narrow majority, a government also has to fear that during the legislative period one or the other parliamentarian will switch to an opposition party because of differences of opinion and that the government will lose its majority for this reason. Only if the said parliamentarians justify this change of party by saying that they had promised their voters that they would vote against these plans of the government, one could still speak with some justification that the government is being overthrown here because it is trying to push through measures that are not shared by the majority of the population.


As a rule, however, individual parliamentarians only change their party if they no longer agree with the objectives of the party leadership due to fundamental considerations. In general, it is necessary to compromise on every political decision, so most parliamentarians cannot impose their opinion on every issue. But even a parliamentarian who has been outvoted in a vote is perfectly capable of defending that compromise before the electorate even if he or she has been outvoted on a specific issue. The only decisive question is whether he agrees with the party leadership on the fundamental positions of his party.


If there is even a minority government, the stability of the government is even more threatened than if the government still has a small majority. Parties that participate in the work of the government benefit from this cooperation by taking on positions in the government; they therefore also have an interest in the government being able to hold out until the end of the legislative period. An opposition party has a much smaller interest in the preservation of the government, since it does not receive any of the fruits of the work of the government, and it will therefore be much quicker to withhold its consent from the government if the government does not reward its consent in some other way.



3rd Danger of interest groups entering parliament


The majority system guarantees greater stability than the proportional system for another reason. Precisely because under the majority voting system a party only has a chance of being elected to parliament if it has been able to win a majority of the votes in individual constituencies, it results that generally only large parties that appeal to several population groups have a chance of success at all. Majority voting systems are characterised by the fact that usually only two major parties compete in the election.


In a system of proportional representation, even parties that appeal to only a small section of the population from the outset have a chance of being elected to parliament and even participating in the government as coalition partners. There is therefore a danger that a large number of smaller parties will run for office and that they will pursue a policy of interests and make no effort to find solutions that are approved by the majority of the population. As has been noted, they also get into parliament if they have only addressed a minority before the elections and have not striven for a compromise that is also shared by several groups of the population.


Precisely because it is now worthwhile for a large number of interest groups to form themselves as a party, the probability that the larger parties will still be able to achieve a majority of votes decreases with the consequence that the larger parties are forced to form a coalition government with one or even several smaller parties. In this way, even a party that only appealed to a single interest group before the elections and therefore fell far short of a majority can still expect to be involved in government work.


But it is precisely this prospect that in turn changes the interests of the smaller parties. If a party is to represent the interests of various population groups, it is forced to hold out the prospect of solutions even before the election which, precisely because compromises become necessary, do not correspond so clearly and radically to the interests of a population group. A smaller party, on the other hand, can increase its chances of being elected by formulating extreme radical demands and thus win over the voters concerned much sooner than if it had campaigned for solutions that benefit the entire population and require compromises for that very reason.


This fact, however, reduces stability and increases the risk that governments will fail and have to resign before the end of the legislative period. Coalition governments entail that compromises have to be made between the coalition parties after the election. This means that no party can impose its objectives. They then run the risk of becoming untrustworthy in the course of the legislative period because they support policies that deviate more or less from the promises they made before the election. This can very quickly lead to a break-up of the coalition if a coalition partner has to fear that it will become untrustworthy among its voters precisely because of the necessary compromises and runs the risk of suffering considerable losses at the next election.


Here, the position of the single ruling major party is much more stable under the conditions of a majority electoral system. Like the coalition government, it too has to make compromises. What is decisive, however, is that the governing party had already promised these compromises before the election and that it is precisely for this reason that it can also deliver what it promised before the election.



4th The influence of radical parties


Another third reason favours a greater stability of the majority voting system. The experience with the constitution of the Weimar Republic, which provided for proportional representation, shows that precisely because of the connections that have just been explained, a party structure emerged with a radical party in the right spectrum (the National Socialists), another radical party in the left spectrum (the Communists) and a number of smaller parties in the middle of this spectrum. Only these parties in the middle stood on the ground of the constitution, while the declared aim of the two extreme parties was to gain a majority by way of the Weimar constitution, but then, once they had come to power, to undermine and eventually abandon the democratic constitution.


Now the consequence of this party structure was that precisely because a large number of smaller parties were given and the two radical parties together won a large share of the votes, the actual governments almost always consisted of most of the smaller parties in the middle, often only the head of government was changed, while the governing parties were almost always the same.


If the people were dissatisfied with the work of the government, it was of no gain to the voters to switch from one moderate party to another moderate party in the elections, since all these parties supported the work of the government. Only the two radical parties offered a real alternative to the existing policy. As a result, it was not surprising that more and more voters turned to the radical parties; dissatisfied workers switched to the Communist Party, while dissatisfied white-collar workers, civil servants and the self-employed switched to the National Socialists.


Let us take as an example the elections in the USA and Germany during the Great Depression in the late 1920s and early 1930s. In both countries, the economic crisis brought about 8 to 10 million unemployed. The people of both countries thus had reason to be dissatisfied with the work of the governments (Hoover in the USA, Brüning in Germany) and to vote out the government at the next election.


In the USA, there is a majority voting system with two strong parties that stand on the basis of the constitution. Voters therefore had the option of switching to an opposition that defended the existing constitution. The Hoover government was replaced by the Roosevelt government. In the Weimar Republic, on the other hand, so many dissatisfied voters switched to the radical right-wing parties, especially the National Socialists, that Reich President Hindenburg finally felt compelled to appoint Hitler to lead the government.


Of course, other factors also contributed to the collapse of the Weimar Republic. At this point, it was only important to show that electoral law also contributed to this reversal and that, in general, majority voting systems are more immune to a constitutional breach than proportional representation systems.



5th Insufficient sensitivity in the case of a proportional representation


Fourthly, the particularities of the majority voting system mean that dissatisfaction with the existing government leads more quickly to the replacement of the existing government. The system reacts more quickly to dissatisfaction. In general, a swing of a few percentage points is enough for the previous opposition to achieve even a sizeable majority in the next elections.


This strong sensitivity is related to the fact that a majority can be overturned by even a small swing in the cast votes. As an example, let us again choose a majority electoral system with two parties. Party K is the government and has won a majority of 51% in 60 out of 100 constituencies in the previous election. Therefore, party K had a majority of 60 out of 100 votes so far. Let us now assume that in 30 of the 60 constituencies Party K lost only 2% of the votes, but for this very reason did not gain a majority in these constituencies.


The previous opposition party was therefore able to gain 30 seats compared to the previous elections with 40 out of 100 seats and therefore receives a full majority of 70 votes, although only in 30 out of 100 constituencies two percent of the voters switched to the opposing party. Of course, it is not to be expected that such extreme changes will take place in practice; it should merely be shown by means of an extreme example that a majority voting system reacts very quickly and very strongly to changes in the will of the voters.


Let us now bring a counter-example from the field of proportional representation. We assume that all parties loyal to the constitution in the middle of the party spectrum are already involved in the government. If the voters are dissatisfied with the policies of the government and therefore switch to another party that is also loyal to the constitution, this dissatisfaction is not reflected in the actual policies, since the strengthened party was previously part of the government.


Changes can only be expected when the discontent in the population becomes so great that voters switch in large numbers to the extreme parties. This is not only undesirable. It is made worse by the fact that this system is not able to process changes in the will of the electorate. For a long time nothing happens. But precisely because of this, the discontent in the population rises, and one day it becomes so strong that it can lead to a revolution.


Now, one could argue that majority voting also overreacts in a sense and makes a mountain out of a molehill. This would have to be regarded as undesirable, since the changes in the composition of parliament should only correspond to the extent of the discontent that is actually expressed.


Such criticism fails to recognise that not every dissatisfaction with the existing government manifests itself immediately in voters switching to opposition parties. Many voters remain loyal to their party because they prefer a party not only because of the concrete measures announced, but also because of its basic attitude. A convinced trade union official is unlikely to switch to, for example, the FDP if he is dissatisfied with the current policies of the SPD, as the ideological differences between the two parties are too great.


As a general rule, dissatisfied voters limit themselves to teaching the party of their choice a lesson, e.g. by voting for another party in opinion polls, or they abstain from voting or only vote for another party if they expect their 'own' party to gain a majority anyway, only a reduced majority in comparison to previous elections.


If the current government remains in office despite voter dissatisfaction, there is a risk of major welfare losses. Thus, there is much in favour of a system that reacts very sensitively and very quickly to changes in the opinion of the population. If one waits until the government can be replaced, there is always the danger that the entire system will be called into question because of increasing dissatisfaction.



6th Uncertainty of the election outcome


Fifthly and finally, it should be pointed out that the election result becomes uncertain if the formation of different coalition governments becomes possible after the election. The probability of this rises as the number of competing parties increases, which itself is more likely in proportional representation systems than in majority voting systems. The will of the electorate cannot come into play here at all, since various combinations become possible after the outcome of the election. This uncertainty could only be ruled out if the parties were to determine before the election with which and only with which other parties, if any, a coalition would be entered into.


However, such a self-commitment contradicts the interest of the entire community as well as of the individual parties. A self-commitment can lead to the fact that no government can be formed after the election, since the parties have excluded from the outset those coalitions before the election which would be possible in purely mathematical terms after the election (i.e. would result in a majority). It would certainly be undesirable if several rounds of elections were necessary for reasons of self-commitment alone. Apart from the fact that holding elections incurs costs, a too frequent ballot leads to election fatigue, fewer and fewer people participate in the election. However, the lower the voter participation, the less the election result reflects the opinion of the population.


But the parties themselves are also not interested in a prior determination of the coalition partner. If a party S has already decided that it will definitely only enter into a coalition with party G, its negotiating position vis-à-vis the coalition partner is weakened. This party then lacks the trump card that it can also enter into a coalition with another party if necessary.


How indeterminate an election can turn out within the framework of a proportional representation system is shown by the result of the Bundestag election of 2013. Purely arithmetically, three alternatives could have been realised: a grand coalition of CDU/CSU and SPD, further a black-green government of CDU/CSU and Green Party and finally a red-red-green coalition of SPD, Green Party and Left Party. Now, the mere fact that the election result allows for several alternatives in the formation of a government cannot yet be regarded as proof that the will of the people was not properly expressed through the election. After all, it is also in line with the responsible behaviour of an individual to consider several alternatives. One makes a plan A, if this does not lead to success due to unforeseen contingencies, one applies plan B or finally plan C, which presumably have a lower efficiency than plan A, but still express the goals of this individual. However, these three alternatives, which were possible in purely mathematical terms according to the results of the 2013 federal election, are mutually exclusive programmes. If an individual were to pursue such contradictory plans, one would speak of irrational behaviour.



7th Disadvantages of the existing mixed system


Our considerations so far have come to the conclusion that the two electoral law systems are based on two different, competing objectives: While proportional representation obviously ensures that politicians are more likely to fulfil the exact will of the population, majority voting ensures to a greater extent that the system remains stable, i.e. that representative democracy is preserved. And it seems that in the current system, which combines both forms of electoral law, a highly desirable compromise has been reached in favour of both goals.


But this appearance is deceptive. On the one hand, the advantages of the majority voting system only occur in its pure form; the current mixed system has, after all, triggered the difficulties described above with the overhang mandates in the last decade. On the other hand, one should ask oneself whether it is really necessary for the realisation of the will of the electorate that the party structure of parliament corresponds precisely to the structure of the electorate.


Let us take a fictitious example. We assume two cases, in both cases two parties S and C run in an election, party C gets 60% of the votes in each case. In the first case the votes are counted according to the majority principle, in the second case according to proportional representation. Let us further assume that voting took place in 100 constituencies of 100 voters each and that party C achieved a majority of 70% in 80 constituencies, but only a 20% share of the vote in the remaining 20 constituencies. Thus, under the majority voting system, party C would get 80 out of 100 seats, but under proportional representation, party C would only get ((80*70) + (20*20))/100 = (5600 + 400)/100 = 60% , i.e. 60 seats.


Since party C had presumably won the majority of parliamentary seats under both electoral systems, it can also form the government in each case and implement its measures as intended. The fact that the opposition party S has 20 more seats under the conditions of proportional representation than under the conditions of majority voting has no influence on the behaviour of the government. In both cases, the government can implement its programme unchanged - after all, it has a sizeable majority - and in both cases the realised policy corresponds to the will of the majority of voters.


There is absolutely no guarantee that the mere fact that the composition of parliament corresponds better to the structure of the electorate in the case of proportional representation will in any way mean that the policies of the government will also correspond more closely to the will of the electorate. Due to the shortcomings pointed out above, we even would have to admit that despite greater symmetry between the structure of parliamentary seats and the structure of the electorate as a whole, the will of the electorate is not fully reflected precisely in the case of proportional representation because, for example, the election outcome allows for several different coalition governments.


In our considerations, however, we have tacitly assumed that - assuming the same behaviour of the voters - the same party obtains the majority in both electoral systems. And this in turn presupposes that all constituencies have approximately the same size. If this is not the case, it must indeed be expected that under certain circumstances, even with the same number of votes, a different party will gain the lead in the majority system than in the proportional system. Let us take another example.


Again, we assume 100 constituencies and now assume that just in the 80 constituencies in which party C gained the majority of 70%, only 10 voters are registered, while the remaining 20 constituencies each have 1000 voters and party C could only gain 20% of the votes. In this case, under the conditions of a majority election, party C would win 80 of 100 parliamentary seats and thus the majority, although it only obtained (80 * 7 = 560) + (20 * 200 = 4000) = i.e. 4560 votes. Since the total number of voters is (80*10 = 800) + (20*1000 = 20000) thus 20800 in total, this means that under proportional representation party C would only have got about 22% of the seats and would thus have to form the opposition.


This inequality of constituencies has indeed existed for a long time in Great Britain, the model country of majority voting. It is only natural, however, that the demand for equal voting rights for all citizens also presupposes that efforts are made to tailor the constituencies in such a way that each constituency contains roughly the same number of eligible voters.


Our considerations were also based on a second tacit assumption. We have tacitly assumed that - as is the consistent practice in almost all representative democracies - voters elect parties and that elected representatives largely follow the ideas of their party leaders. Let us briefly abandon this assumption and assume that there were no parties at all and that only independent politicians stood for election.


In this case, one would have to assume that every vote on both the choice of government and the substantive issues at hand was completely free of party statutes and that the outcome of the decision depended substantially on the consultations that had taken place beforehand. Under these conditions, it would be quite conceivable, yes even probable, that the composition of parliament would also have a decisive influence on the voting results and that, under the assumptions made above, different results would indeed be achieved under the condition of proportional representation than under the conditions of majority election.


It would be wrong, however, to already conclude out of this that in these cases the policy would be more in line with the actual will of the people in the case of proportional representation than in the case of majority voting. Since the outcome of each individual vote would be open and would depend on the arguments that had just been put forward in plenary and, moreover, would also depend on which parliamentarians were present at the moment and how imaginative they were, it would also not be possible to speak unequivocally of the fact that precisely those compromises would be found that would correspond to the will of the majority on the issues at hand.


The decisive factor here is that within the framework of a majority voting system, politicians are forced to address as many groups of the population as possible before the election, and this only succeeds if the politicians have to name the necessary compromises before the election, so that the voter is also informed about which compromise he or she has agreed to by electing his or her representative.


Under the conditions of proportional representation, the voter is still completely unaware of the compromise on which the parliament will agree; he or she only knows the position of the representative whom he or she is voting for at the moment; it is completely unclear to the voter to what extent his or her candidate will prevail in the vote.


If this uncertainty already exists under the current regime of parties, it increases many times over if each individual parliamentarian only campaigns for himself and no party, which summarises certain objectives in a party programme, stands behind the ideas of the parliamentarian. It is then completely open what the result of the vote in parliament will be and to what extent these results then correspond to the will of the people.


Irrespective of whether or not the majority will of the population comes into effect in a parliament consisting only of non-party parliamentarians, there are good reasons for the fact that in reality parties always act in parliamentary elections and that it is ultimately the party programmes that are chosen by the electorate.


Friedrich von Hayek once reproached parliamentary democracy for the fact that political results go round in circles, with one government passing laws that favour the groups of the population that elected it and disadvantage other groups. In the next legislative period, another party prevails, which then repeals these measures and favours other groups. In the long run, this only leads to the fact that the distribution of resources is not changed significantly, that only through this back and forth many resources are wasted and thus the welfare of the entire population was burdened.


Dennis Mueller has pointed out in a somewhat different context that the distribution of resources is regulated much more efficiently in rules on the constitution. If an individual citizen can see to what extent he or she will be positively or negatively affected by a planned measure of the politicians, then it is to be expected that he or she will work via interest groups to ensure that those measures that favour him or her are pushed and those measures that burden him or her are prevented.


However, if long-term rules are laid down in the constitution, it is no longer possible for the individual to clearly determine whether these rules bring him and his children and children's children advantages or disadvantages. If he proceeds rationally, he must assume that advantages and disadvantages are equally probable. In this case, however, he will out of necessity decide in favour of the arguments that promise an increase in overall welfare. He then behaves quasi-intrusively, since he cannot assess whether he will benefit or be disadvantaged by this rule in the future.


If the replacement of governments is already considered to be welfare-reducing, this is all the more true for a procedure in which non-party parliamentarians are elected to parliament and it is entirely at the mercy of coincidence what the outcome of the individual votes will be. There is a danger here that many measures contradict and cancel each other out with the end result that the welfare of the population is not advanced.


The demand that the parliament shall be composed in the same way as the people have elected the parties is probably based on a perhaps romantic, but not realistic idea of the function of the parliament. When a law is voted on in the final reading, the die has been cast long ago, it is clear which way one wants to go with this law. It is the subcommittees of the parliamentary groups and also of the parliament that discuss the possible alternatives and ask about the possible effects of the individual measures.


The task of the plenary in the final session of a law is not to make serious changes to this law; these decisions have been made much earlier. It is rather about the public being able to check whether the government parties also keep their election promises, furthermore whether the government parties can convincingly refute the criticism of the opposition and which alternative recipes the present opposition offers. This spectacle of the final reading is thus a prerequisite for the voter to be informed at the next election about which parties can be most expected to implement his/her goals and wishes.


Only when, in exceptional cases, an amendment to the constitution is to be decided and thus a qualified majority is required for its adoption, does the government need the cooperation of the opposition and is forced to compromise with the opposition. Only in this case will the transition to proportional representation and a different composition of parliament also significantly influence the decisions of governments. In normal legislative work, on the other hand, it would be precisely contrary to the will of the people if the government were to abandon the positions for the sake of which it was elected.


Our considerations have shown that proportional representation only very imperfectly reflects the will of the electorate and leads to governments that mostly fulfil the will of the people. At the same time, the analysis has shown that with a majority voting system, the will of the electorate also takes effect when the structure of parliamentary seats deviates from the structure of the distribution of votes of the population. If certain conditions are met (e.g. approximately equal size of the electoral districts), it is also guaranteed that the government that represents the majority of voters will come to power and that the political decisions in parliament will not be significantly different than they would be under proportional representation.


The great advantage of a majority voting system lies in the fact that the parties must strive for compromises capable of obtaining a majority before the election and that the voter can therefore decide for himself which compromise he prefers. In the case of proportional representation, the outcome of the election very often allows for different kinds of compromises that are only reached after the election and which, precisely for this reason, the voters cannot help to decide.