Elimination of open lists in Peru (proposed)

There was a debate in Peru about possibly eliminating the preference vote, and thereby changing from open to closed lists. I wonder if any readers have further information. The following news item (quoted in full) is from November, 2015:

La Comisión de Constitución del Congreso de la República inició esta mañana el esperado debate del proyecto de ley que elimina el voto preferencial para la elección de parlamentarios, sin embargo, pese al compromiso público de sus líderes, los legisladores de diversas bancadas, salvo la nacionalista, se pronunciaron en contra de la propuesta.

José León, de Perú Posible, planteó que la propuesta no sea sometida a votación hoy y que continúe el debate en el seno de la Comisión de Constitución. Dijo, incluso, que es una impertinencia cualquier intento de eliminar el voto preferencial, ya que en 20 semanas se llevarán a cabo las elecciones y ningún partido político está en condiciones de implementar todo un sistema de elección de candidatos al Congreso a través de lista cerrada.(Peru21)

The next elections are now quite soon; presumably the open list will, continue, for now at least.

23 thoughts on “Elimination of open lists in Peru (proposed)

  1. Interesting to note how the open list system has clearly created incentives for MPs to defend it over a closed-list system. It seems feasible to me that some MPs might feel confident in building support from the general population, where they might be unsure of their capacity to build support from their party’s membership.
    That being said, a lot of the reluctance could very well be due to the short timeframe, and I’m utterly unfamiliar with Peruvian parties’ typical candidate selection systems so their could be a higher threshold for internal support (before candidates are allowed to campaign publicly) than I expect.

    • It would be very unusual for a country to move from open to closed lists, for precisely that reason–MPs elected based on their personal following should tend to be risk-averse about trying party ranking procedures.

      In fact, I can’t immediately think of a case that has gone from open to closed; maybe someone reading this knows of one.

      • Wait, MSS, are you using “open lists” as a specific term of art? I believe Italy before 1943 and France before 1948 were “flexible” lists rather than “open” in the Brazilian/ Chilean/ Finnish sense.

      • … Italy before 1993. Not sure when France stopped using flexible lists, but Lakeman mentions that a candidate preference had no effect unless a majority of the list’s supporters expressed it, and Riker (1982) describes a system that sounds like the Swiss method but without cumulation – ie, MNTV within lists – so that opponents of a party would try to ‘decapitate” it by voting for candidates other than the one at the top of the list.

  2. You know what I’d like to see?? I’d like to see a country that uses open lists or flexible lists where an elected candidate should choose whether to transfer any surplus preferential votes to other party candidates. Just a thought!

    • Transferable ballots of any sort are relatively rare in the contest of open list systems. There are only two examples I can think of off the top of my head; the Australian Capital Territory’s Modified D’Hondt system, which used STV to choose which candidates would be elected within parties (though with a series of provisions weighting party choices highly), and Sweden’s rather odd D’Hondt-STV hybrid used to choose candidates within lists up to 1997.

      • Henry, I have some idea that Sweden dropped the preferential (1, 0.5, 0.33, 0.25 etc) intra-list method when it did a thoroughgoing constitutional and Riksdag reform in 1973. Andrew McLaren Carstairs’ much-quoted (on this blog) book was published 1980 and it refers to the Swedes using a simplified non-preferential system by that time. The poor exchange student from Vasteras whom I badgered for information in 1985 (sorry, Johan! Owe you one) said he thought it involved crossing out names of candidates from your selected party’s list, but he hadn’t yet voted himself so wasn’t certain. I hope no Australian exchange students get similarly quizzed by their overseas hosts about inclusive Gregory transfers, or American exchange students about the Twelfth Amendment…

      • Tom, I haven’t read the Carstairs book, and so I can’t comment directly on it. However, Electoral System Change in Europe says the 1974 reform only involved reducing the Riksdag by one seat. The provision for the preferential inter-list method is still in the election law, I believe, but is now irrelevant as voters cannot change the order of candidates; they can only choose one. Both Electoral System Change in Europe and Nohlen say that Sweden was effectively closed list, so maybe that is what Carstairs means

      • A point of terminology that initially confused me no end is that Europeans use “preferential votes” in the context of party-list PR systems to mean any method of voting for individual candidates – ie, flexible, open and free lists. Such votes need not be “preferential” in the British Empire sense of “conservative numbering” (Borda, STV/AV). Indeed in most cases – barring Sweden at some unspecified time in the past (a semi-STV system but with “top-down” transfers only and with d’Hondt-based transfer values) and Slovenia (or Slovakia?) and formerly Austria and Finland (a points system for intra-list voting) – European “preference votes” did not involve numbering of candidates. I believe one simply ticks names, darkens a circle, or hands in a pre-printed party list with names crossed off (Sweden today) or written in (Switzerland).

        I suppose the common thread of “preference” is that both STV/AV and non-closed lists allow a voter to make some choice among individual candidates (across and within party tickets, respectively) and are not limited to expression what Douglas W Rae would call a single-shot “categorical” ballot for a single closed party list – whether the said list contains one single name, as in the UK, or several names as on the Continent.

        I note too that in the USA a “preference vote” usually refers to a ballot (binding or only advisory) in a presidential primary, and before the Seventeenth Amendment, in a “beauty contest” for the federal Senate.

      • “I suppose the common thread of “preference” is that both STV/AV and non-closed lists allow a voter to make some choice among individual candidates (across and within party tickets, respectively) and are not limited to expression what Douglas W Rae would call a single-shot “categorical” ballot for a single closed party list – whether the said list contains one single name, as in the UK, or several names as on the Continent.”

        Though that would include multiple non-transferable vote, would it not?

      • The terminology can be confusing. This is a real problem in electoral-systems literature. I always use “preference votes” to refer to any system in which voters can cast votes below the level of the party, whether for one candidate, for several, and whether preferences are ranked sequentially or are multiple votes of equal value. Note that “below the level of the party” presupposes that parties run more than one candidate in an election in which candidates of other parties are also present on the same ballot.

        To distinguish STV/AV type of “preference voting”, I try to specific “ranked-choice”, although I won’t claim to be always consistent on this. I should be.

      • Yes, I suppose it would. Although electoral terminology is extremely path-dependent, and trying to stipulate a more logical set of nomenclature is a very steep hill…!

      • And, if I could make any substantial changes to electoral system terminology, the first would be abolition of the terms ‘panachage’ and ‘binomial system’.

      • The problem with the term ‘ranked ballots’ is that it runs contrary to the principle of equality in elections. We do not rank ballots, we count them.

  3. On the question I raised above about moves from open to closed lists, I did not know about Greece 1985. Is the a sure thing? The current Greek law is almost open list, and I am willing to count it as such, although parties do have means to favor certain candidates. So I suppose very technically, it could be called “flexible”. And, of course, the current Greek law also provides for the use of closed lists in an election called early (within 18 months–if I recall correctly–of the most recent election). Then the next election, assuming not similarly early, would again be with open lists.

    Yes, on Italy having once been open and now closed. However, they passed through an intermediate stage of mixed-member (in which, yes, the list component of the system was closed lists). I was not aware of France ever having used open lists, but I am very hazy on the rules of the Fourth Republic. In any case, there was obviously a long period of single-seat districts from there to the 1986 election. (Yes, I have made the case that single-seat rules are closed list, and they certainly are not open; but in common parlance they are not list systems at all.)

    In any case, when I posed the question I had in mind a move from one “steady state” pure type of list-PR to the other: so a direct move from an open-list PR system to a closed-list PR system (excepting the Greek early-election provision mentioned above). Unless Greece qualified in its 1985 change, I am not sure there exists such a case.

    • I thought a list was flexible if it maintained the list order *unless* enough votes were cast for a candidate. Not the other way around.

      I believe France’s very first PR system (1919?) involved voting for candidates only, who belonged to lists, but Henry probably remembers better.

      • France 1919 involved voting for individuals, who did indeed form part of lists. Voters could vote for as many candidates as there were seats to be elected. Candidates that got a majority (of the number of voters, not the number of votes) were automatically elected, and then further seats were distributed using the largest remainder method with the Hare quota; for a candidate to be elected out of the list order, they needed 150% of the list average in personal votes.

      • JD says: “I thought a list was flexible if it maintained the list order *unless* enough votes were cast for a candidate.”

        I think that is the standard definition, yes. So I guess the question whether a system in which candidates are elected based on order of preference votes *except* that priority is given to some subset of candidates, is also “flexible”. Maybe not. I agree it is something different in its likely effects; I might have been using “flexible” as a general residual category. I might have been wrong to do so.

        The zoo is a complicated place.

    • For Greece 1985, Electoral System Change in Europe, as well as various other sources, back the claim that Greece previously used some form of open list and moved to closed list for one election only. I cannot be certain that Greece pre-1985 was totally open list, though.

      • Lakeman said in “Power to Elect” (1982) that Greece allowed you to select one candidate (or, in the “larger” constituencies, two) within your party list, but also that party leaders and former prime ministers were automatically deemed top of their list regardless how few personal votes they polled. So, almost fully open.

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