Essay Main models include: List; Mixed Member
Essay Question Number 4; The Electoral systems in the Caribbean needs to be changed.
How real is this view? An election as a political process serves as the single most important mechanism for citizens to participate in the selection of a government. When conducted to international standards, elections tend to confer legitimacy on a government. In the Commonwealth Caribbean, the electoral experience varies and tends to reflect not only the socio-political culture of the member state but also its particular electoral system.The electoral system determines the difference between votes and seats; how votes are translated into seats. How many and what kind of votes are needed to get a seat varies from system to system.
As a result, different electoral systems give politicians incentives to organize and campaign in different ways. Some electoral systems may even create barriers for certain types of candidates. Different electoral systems give voters different kinds of choices, which can then affect the decisions voters make.They are three main types of electoral systems; Plurality-candidates are elected with a plurality (i. e. not a majority) of votes cast.
Main models include: Single Member Plurality; Multi-Member Plurality (also called Block Vote), Majority-candidates are elected with a majority (i. e. more than 50%) of votes cast and Proportional Representation- candidates are elected based on the total percentage of votes cast for their party. Main models include: List; Mixed Member Proportional; Single Transferable Vote; Single Non-Transferable Vote; Parallel.The electoral system used in Barbados for election to the House of Assembly is the single member constituency with simple majority, also known as the first-past-the-post system Most countries in the Caribbean region have kept a version of the Westminster model ever since colonial times.
However, more and more countries are reviewing and revising their electoral systems. One of these such countries is Guyana; most other countries in the region are only now beginning to look into the different options and discussing the possibilities of moving towards more proportionality.Electoral systems in the region are mainly of the first-past-the post type. Electoral systems are essentially the electoral formula used for electing the executive and legislature.
In the Anglo-Caribbean countries (except Guyana), the first-past-the-post system elects the members of parliament, a majority of whom nominate the prime minister. In the Latin Caribbean and Guyana the electoral formula is more complicated, often including proportional representation and either an indirectly or directly elected president.Caribbean electoral systems reflect the influence of the former colonial powers and national circumstances such as the racial composition of the population. Elections and electoral systems aim at converting the popular will expressed as votes into choices between candidates of political parties for political offices in the executive and legislature. The electoral system therefore reflects itself in the party system and the structure of governmental representation. This association between elections, parties and government takes different forms.Ideal electoral systems should comprise of competition, effective government, and fair representation along with free and fair voting.
A review of the Caribbean electoral system show how these aims are attempted and the strengths and weaknesses encountered. In the Dominican Republic there is a mixed electoral system where the proportional representational formula is combined with the first past the post formula. The most recent elections in the Dominican Republic were held in 1996.This is also a presidential system however the president is directly elected in national elections. There are three types of elections.
There are elections to the lower house of the congress or the Chamber of Deputies. One hundred and forty nine members are elected for four years by proportional representation. This means that parties obtain a number of seats in proportion to the total votes they receive in a national vote.
Another 30 members are elected to the senate for four years from each of the 30 provinces.These elections are held by the first past the post formula. Candidates from the parties contest seats for the senate and the one, who wins the most votes in a province, wins that seat. Then there are national elections for the president on the basis of the majority formula.
Each party puts forward a presidential candidate in May of an election year. If a candidate wins an outright majority of 50% plus one vote, he is the winner. If no candidate wins a majority then a second round of voting occurs in June.At this point, only the two candidates with the most votes in May remain in the contest and all others are eliminated. The candidate who receives a majority in the second round of voting wins.
The Dominican Republic therefore uses proportional representation for election to the Lower House, first past the post for the Upper House and a majority system for presidential elections. It has a mixed electoral system just like most of the other countries. In every Commonwealth country; controversy surround the electoral systems; such controversy is not limited to the Commonwealth countries.Criticisms are heard about the composition of election and boundary commissions and how they are appointed or removed the manner and integrity with which the voter list is compiled, who is allowed to vote. There is also controversy as to whether persons in the diaspora should be allowed to vote given that their remittance makes a substantial contribution to the wellbeing of the people who remains on the ”rock”.
Confidence in an electoral system translates into confidence in a democracy. It is generally agreed that elections will hardly be completely free and fair.But a country must be satisfied that election results reflect the will of the people. This means that even where there are malpractices in some constituencies or regions the overall result is what the people, voting as a whole, intend it to be. This was the conclusion of election observers in Jamaica’s last elections even while the electoral process fell short of the standards of fairness. Elections have a stronger tradition in the Anglo-Caribbean than in the Latin Caribbean but even so there is room to improve electoral laws and administration and to enforce codes of conduct during election campaigns.Very importantly, there is the need to change the culture of violence so that elections can be conducted in a climate of peace, and not only be free and fair but be free from fear.
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Democratic Electoral Systems Around The Word, Department of Politics, NY1946-2000 Ben, R. Proferential Voting and Political Engineering, A Compare Study Peters,D. C.
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