Monday, February 19, 2007

Does democracy end when the number of voters becomes too large to fit into the town square?

There are many systems of voting to get something close to "the people's will." However, none really get to the kind of democracy which is possible when all the citizens can gather in one meeting and come to a conclusion. In a "first past the post" system, so common in English speaking countries, there are frequently two main parties, as an third party, even getting 20% of the vote, will get far fewer than that as a % of elected representatives. Other proportional representation systems may do better, but tend to lead to coalition governments. Any democracy is better than the alternative, but sometimes the worst thing we can do is to oversell it.

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