First into two, then four, then eight and so on until there is an infinite variety of tiny political entities competing for votes.
The electoral side of PR all seems terribly fair to voters as every shade of opinion known to man can find a seat in the Parliament. The trouble is that so many of these little groups and egos need to be in agreement to get a working majority (Prodi needed 11 separate parties to form his 2005 majority). If only one breaks ranks, nothing can be done and that is what happened to Prodi’s coalition in Italy last week.
In a report from the International Herald Tribune today, you find these words decsribing the situation –
So far, most of Berlusconi’s allies have backed his calls for early elections, seeking to take advantage of the center-left’s sinking popularity.
Some small groups in the center-left party also favor a return to the polls.
But Prodi’s main ally, the new Democratic Party, led by the mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, wants a new government charged with reforming the proportional representation system that critics blame for fostering political instability and division in Italy.
On Sunday, Veltroni said that a new executive would need about a year to pass reforms, including “an electoral law that will give the country a chance to choose between two recognizable and united lineups.”
Any Briton fancying the idea of introducing the ‘fairness’ of PR to Britain should read the words of Walter Ventroni the Mayor of Rome very carefully indeed. Italy has fifty years experience of proportional representation, and has finally become to all intents and purposes ungovernable.
If the electoral reform process is gone through with a caretaker government as Veltroni desires, it will make Italy the second European country where proportional representation has effectively collapsed inside six months. Belgium still has no government after their elections failed to resolve the disputes between small political parties, making majority coalitions impossible to form.