Monday, March 31, 2014

MythBuster: neo-Nazis will rise to power if we use Proportional Representation

This is a variation on the fringe-party-explosion fallacy. It’s based on the idea that if we have a low 3% threshold — the vote required before a party can get federal seats — fringe parties, that don’t even come close to breaking 1%, will suddenly fill up the legislature.

So if you believe that nonsense, why not proclaim this means a fringe party is certain to win 50% of the vote and rise to absolute power?

1933 German election

To debunk this silliness, let’s use the 1933 German election as an example.

Hitler came to power on 43% of the vote using “scary PR.” Of course, he was still the leader of a minority party and had to form a coalition to form the government.

If Germany had used First-Past-the-Post, however, Hitler would’ve won a landslide majority and gotten absolute corrupt power directly.

Then the papers would’ve had ridiculous headlines like they do in Canada after an election: “Hitler was given a resounding mandate by voters!” — like Mulroney with free trade in 1988 on 43% of the vote.

Conclusion

PR puts an end to minority party dictatorships. It doesn’t create them. It ensures an actual majority of voters is represented in government.

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