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Proportional Representation is an Insensitive Reality for our Cultural Democracy and Political Accountability..

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By Emmanuel Amara Sowa

The political and legal definition of proportional representation (PR) states, it characterizes electoral systems in which divisions in an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body and is a system used to elect a country’s government. There is often an assumption that the choice of an electoral system is closely related to the calculations of dominant political parties who select systems that are likely to benefit them in elections. This means the results of an election decide directly how many seats each party should have. Decisions are then made by the people who are elected. Each elected representative will be a member of one or another party.

Therefore, proportional representation (PR) has not been promoted effectively over the last few years, that it has become a market leader without the inconvenience of a proper public debate. In the United Kingdom, the Liberal Democrats are firmly wedded to PR and the Labor party is continuing to review its policy on the issue. The SLPP government is not doing it for the purpose of gender equality neither improving on women’s representation but to rather achieve political gains and drastically reduce the democratic capital of Sierra Leone. Which is why, amending section 38 of the 1991 Constitution will be a very big problem. Therefore, these are the underlying disadvantages of the proportional representation system which we don’t need in the Republic of Sierra Leone.

√ Coalition governments, which in turn lead to legislative gridlock and the subsequent inability to carry out coherent policies at a time of most pressing need. There are particularly high risks during an immediate post-transition period, when new governments have huge expectations resting upon their shoulders. Quick and coherent decision-making can be impeded by coalition cabinets and governments of national unity which are split by factions.

√ A destabilizing fragmentation of the party system. PR reflects and facilitates a fragmentation of the party system. It is possible that such pluralism can allow tiny minority parties to hold larger parties to ransom in coalition negotiations. In this respect, the inclusiveness of PR is cited as a drawback of the system. In Israel, for example, extremist religious parties are often crucial to government formation, while Italy has endured fifty years of unstable shifting coalition governments.

√ PR systems are often criticized for giving a parliamentary stage to extremist parties of the left or the right. It has been argued that the collapse of Weimar Germany was in part due to the way in which the PR electoral system gave a toe-hold to extremist groups.

√ Governing coalitions which have insufficient common ground, in terms of either their policies or their supporter base. These ‘coalitions of convenience’ are sometimes contrasted with stronger ‘coalitions of commitment’ produced by other systems (e.g. the Alternative Vote), in which parties tend to be reciprocally dependent on the votes of supporters of other parties for their election.

√ The inability to throw a party out of power. Under a PR system, it may be very difficult to remove a reasonably-sized party from power. When governments are usually coalitions, it is true that some political parties are ever-present in government, despite weak electoral performances from time to time. In the Netherlands, the Christian Democratic Appeal (CDA) remained the leading partner in government for seventeen years despite a declining vote share.

√ A weakening of the link between MPs and their constituents. When simple List PR is used, and seats are allocated in one huge national constituency as in Namibia in Southern Africa or Israel, the system is often criticized for destroying the link between voters and their member of parliament. Voters have no ability to determine the identity of the persons who will represent them, and no identifiable representative for their town, district, or village; nor do they have the ability to easily reject an individual if they feel they has behaved poorly in office. This factor has been particularly criticized in relation to some rural-based developing countries, where voters’ identification with their region of residence is sometimes considerably stronger than their identification with any political party.

The SLPP government is abusing state resources at the expense of economic, social, and political will of the people which is why a system of this nature is not needed.