One less MM system

Jack notes that Albania has joined the growing (but still small) set of countries to abandon a mixed-member electoral system.

In fact, Albania has had quite a diversity of electoral systems in its short democratic existence. After one post-communist election under two-round majority, it had one election under MMP, then changed to MMM, then back to MMP, and now, apparently, will have all-list PR. In the absence of any other information, I will assume that the lists will be closed (as they were for the MM systems). But perhaps they can give open lists a try one day.

9 thoughts on “One less MM system

  1. I’m glad I checked your blog, Matthew! I’m just finishing the revisions for a submission to Representation on the abandoning of MM systems, so this just adds to my observation that MMM systems in post-communist countries seem quite unstable since so many now have list PR only. I think it must have something to do with MMM being first imposed in a dominant party context (as you have suggested), and then going away when the party system becomes more competitive and governing parties become more risk averse (although in a few cases – Russia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan – list PR has been introduced as a way to hurt the opposition).

    MMM appears fairly stable in some African and Asian countries – I saw an article by Ben Reilly on the latter, and have ordered his recent book for my library. This is interesting. Otherwise, MM systems (especially MMM) appear to be good for hedging your bets, as Sarah Birch has argued.


  2. Apparently the runoff provision represents yet another tinkering with Albania’s MM rules.

    It looks to me as if it was indeed two-round majority in 2001 but plurality in 2005. (Odd, and I think unprecedented, to have MMP with 2 rounds for the nominal tier.*)

    At least that is the inference I draw from the results that Adam Carr posts. It is not entirely clear, but it looks like his constituency-level results for 2001 show only the decisive round (i.e. he shows some multi-candidate races in which one candidate has a majority–clearly a first/sole round) and some two-candidate races (which could be runoffs). For 2005, there are several district races shown where there is a candidate identified as winner, but with less than 50%.

    Thanks to Daniel, in a comment at TDP, for the tip.

    * Hungary and Lithuania have mixed-member systems with 2 rounds, but both are MMM systems (despite the partial compensation through “vote linkage,” rather than MMP-style “seat linkage” in Hungary.)


  3. Note that the party with a plausible chance of winning New Zealand’s MMP election in October/November outright is likely
    to hold referenda on the electoral process.


  4. Just a guess here: But the more voters believe National, if it had a majority (or if it and ACT did), would hold that referendum, the less likely it is to get the chance.

    But given that these same voters could always disappoint National and vote to keep MMP even after voting decisively for a swing to National, maybe it won’t matter.

    I guess the bigger point is that I will believe that National can win a majority of seats or that MMP will be abolished by referendum only once I have actually seen it happen. It just seems implausible. (Am I missing something here that makes one or the other really plausible?)


  5. I only said it was plausible that national would rule alone (56% in a recent poll), not likely!
    Note also that it would be a multi-step process to change anything, it wouldn’t turn on the first referendum in 2011.

    I think adjustments to the MMP method are more likely than returning to FPTP. All bets are off if the Nats get 50%+ of party vote, but a minority of seats due to overhangs!!

    Finally the Nats aren’t campaigning to change back to FPTP, they are giving the perception of listening to the electorate, many of who thought they were promised a review referendum. I doubt the issue will be a significant part of the general election campaign, tax levels, the economy, and general credibility will be more important.


  6. Thanks, Errol! So, it seems pretty unlikely NZ will join that ranks of “One less MM system.” So maybe we could move further discussions of tinkering with MMP or voter attitudes of same over to the “NZ poll on MMP” thread, where a few of the potential problems that could lead to modifications are mentioned.


  7. Surely Albania deserves its own orchard block, for two firsts: the first country to abandon MMP (I think), and the first to show us what MMP-lite is.

    They have just switched from MMP with a 2% threshold and only 40 compensatory seats out of 140 (28.57%) to regional-closed-pure-list with 12 regions and no national calculation. This means an effective threshold of an average of 8.5% or so, and with the range of region sizes, in some regions it will be as high as 20%.

    In the 2005 election the Democratic Party won 56 local seats, but qualified for no list seats, as usual, due to the small ratio of list seats. Albania has been so plagued by tactical voting that most Democratic Party voters cast list votes for allied smaller parties, so it won only 7.7% of the party votes. In 2005 its alliance of eight smaller parties won a total of 18 list seats, giving the Democratic Party’s coalition 73 or 74 seats, an absolute majority with only 41.1% of the party vote. The Socialist Party did the same tactical voting for smaller allies, but a splinter group hoped to hold the balance of power: the Socialist Movement for Integration won 5 seats on its own. Sadly, they did not hold the balance of power.

    Now the two big parties have pushed through the new pure-list system. Non-allied small parties will lose. Also, this depersonalizes the system, strengthening the two main parties. Eleven small party MPs went on a hunger strike for eight days, ending when the law passed.

    MMP critics love to point to this tactic as a flaw in MMP. They are right, as to MMP-lite with no overhangs. (The German province of Northrhine-Westphalia has only about 29% list MLAs, but they have both “overhangs” and “balance seats” which maintain perfect proportionality; sometimes the proportion of list MLAs rises to 40%.)

    Of course, the right way to cure Albania’s plague of tactical voting was to raise the ratio of compensatory seats. This was not a failure of MMP; it was a failure of MMP-lite.

    What we are left with is a definition, at long last, of MMP-lite: less than 30% list seats.


  8. Pingback: Is Scottish MMP being “gamed”? | Fruits and Votes

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