Daniel Hannan, writing in a Telegraph blog, argues that proportional representation would be a bad model for the UK to follow. Why?
for much of the post-war era, German (or West German) governments have tended to fall between elections, as a result of shifting parliamentary coalitions, rather than at elections.
There is one key problem with that argument: it is false. We could grant him the example of the FDP switching partners in 1982 and changing government from SPD-led to CDU-led before the end of a term. At least in recent decades, that is the only example we could grant him.
The far more relevant fact about that example is that an early election the following year confirmed what everyone knew from opinion polls: there was a majority for a center-right government. Yet more relevant is the fact that elections in Germany that have failed to produce a pretty clear mandate for the government that formed have been the exception rather than the rule. (Off the top of my head, 1966, 1998, and 2005 would be about the only cases that fail the electoral-responsiveness test. Can FPTP in Britain claim to be more electorally “efficient” than that? Maybe–just maybe–if we don’t include proportionality as part of our conception of efficiency, but we should include both accountability and representativeness.)
Hannan also claims that “German politicians, as a result of the party list system, must fawn on their party leaders even more abjectly than their British counterparts.” That, too, is debatable, but I’ll leave the counterargument to readers more versed in intra-party politics in the two countries.
Hannan’s preferred solution: “open primaries.”