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BERLIN VOTES . . . September 20, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics, European Politics, Global Electoral Politics.

. . . and so has Wollongong. Voting systems determine outcomes, and who gets to participate in government.

The Greens are expected to form government with the Social Democrats following the election for the regional government of Berlin. While the Greens might now hold the balance of power in the Australian Senate but they are will not be part of any government with ministerial responsibility, unlike the National Party (formerly the Country Party) who typically receive the same level of primary vote with the advantage of geographically distributed electorates.

As reported by Deutsche Wella the proportional representation system in Germany works differently:

Although the incumbent Social Democrats (SPD) have won the regional elections in Berlin, their two-term governing partner – the socialist Left Party – has been voted out of government, raising the prospect that the SPD could reach out to the Greens to form a new coalition.

Results show the SPD bringing in 28.3 percent of the vote in the country’s capital, which is also one of Germany’s 16 states. This represents a slight drop in the SPD’s popularity from the previous election in 2006.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), improved by about 2.1 percent on their last showing in 2006 but still came in second to the SPD, who polled 23.4 percent. It is the sixth of seven regional votes that the ruling party in the national government has faced electoral setbacks in this year.

The chancellor’s coalition partner, the Free Democrats (FDP), polled even worse and failed to bring in the required 5 percent of votes needed to be represented in the state government. The business-friendly party polled just 1.8 percent, making it the fifth time this year that the FDP has failed to enter a state parliament. In the previous election, the FDP won 7.6 percent of the vote.

The Pirate Party is the biggest winner of the Berlin vote
The Pirate Party, however, did clear the 5-percent hurdle and will be represented for the first time in a state parliament in Germany. The Pirate Party, which campaigns for copyright reform, free wireless Internet service and free public transport, brought in 8.9 percent of the vote.

“This is all very new for us,” said Andreas Baum, the party’s top candidate, on German public television after the election. “We will need to prepare, get into the swing of things, but you will be hearing from us. You can be sure of that.”

Turnout was at just over 60 percent of Berlin’s approximately 2.5 million eligible voters, an increase of about one percent since 2006.

The good thing about compulsory voting is that there are no issues related to voter suppression and provision is made, and must be made, to allow every elector to vote. This does not mean that everybody votes, or those that do cast a valid ballot. For example, in the Wollongong City Council election held at the beginning of this month almost 23% of voters either did not turn up at the polling booths or cast an informal ballot. The 23,982 non voters could be fined $55 per person. I had other things on my mind, and it is just as well I talk to my neighbours.

A proportional representative voting system along the German lines with a 5% threshold (and that seems to work well) and in Australia we would use our existing preferential system for the district representation along with a compulsory element would work across a number of democratic criteria.


Following the council elections, as befitting a former steel city local government politics were dominated by the ALP but no more. The Lord Mayor is an independent. There are four Liberal and Labor councillors elected to the new Wollongong City Council as well as two Greens and two Independents.There are problems for the ALP, including the persistence of old attitudes.



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