Colombia electoral reform video

If you understand Spanish, you should watch John Sudarsky’s video criticizing the current electoral system of Colombia (which is open-list* PR, including in the 100-seat nationwide district of the Senate), and advocating MMP.**

I offer for your viewing pleasure, not necessarily as an endorsement.


* Mostly. Parties have the option to present a closed list, and there are always some members of each house elected this way. But most come from open lists.

** The video and website only call it “mixed”, but it seems pretty clear from the examples given that it is intended to be MMP.

5 thoughts on “Colombia electoral reform video

  1. If I understood correctly, 60% of the seats would be single member constituencies and 40% filled on a proportional basis. Constituency votes for losing candidates would be pooled in regions and form the basis for allocation of the proportional seats, but other candidates would fill those seats.

    So: closed party lists, no gaming the system with decoy lists and not quite the usual MMP compensation system?

    • So it’s a one-vote MMP system that deducts votes (instead of the more common seats) to achieve proportionality?

    • I think that system is identical, or at least very similar, to the one used for the Italian Senate from 1994 to 2001. Voters cast votes for candidates at the single-member constituency level, the candidate with the most votes won the seat, and then those votes were pooled at the regional level (average regional PR DM=4.15) and seats were allocated to parties proportionally after votes for candidates who had won in SMDs were subtracted from their party’s total. The system was immune to the decoy-list strategy used by the major coalitions in the lower house, which used a dual-vote MMP/MMM (?) system. As I understand it, the system was not designed on purpose; the previous PR system required candidates to receive two-thirds of the vote at the SMD level to win at that point, and a referendum at some point in the 90s removed that requirement.

  2. Though I don’t speak Spanish, I think I was able to follow the general thread. Is the proposal to have national lists for both houses, or to retain the difference in (list tier) district magnitude?

    If the system would be applied to both chambers, that would mean a total of four ballots for national legislative elections, complicating voting in a way I’m not sure is outweighed by the elimination of open lists (of course, simplicity/ease of voting is not the only factor, but it’s relevant.

    Ultimately it might be best to have only one elected chamber. If this would mean merging the two houses, there could be smaller districts under MMP (about 300k/district instead of about 450k/district and 800k/district) But if strong bicameralism with two elective chambers is to be retained, it seems to be like it might be better to further differentiate their roles (Colombia already does this a bit, though this could be greatly extended) and then also further differentiate their electoral systems. Having MMP for both houses would achieve the opposite, making bicameralism more redundant (though not as much if the difference in DM would be preserved).

  3. I like most of this idea! But I have a problem with the fact that the SMD losers’ votes would go to a closed list with names of other candidates. Maybe a modification could be made to have a candidate to be on both ballots from their region. system,

    For example, with a 10-seat region, under the Colombian “voto deductible” system, there would be 6 SMD seats and 4 PR seats. Each party would nominate 4 candidates throughout the region, so each SMD would have the same 4 candidates. This would be ideal to pool votes and link each voters votes to any possible elected candidates. I’d follow the Belgian idea of having alternates being published on the ballot but with a condition that would say: “IN CASE YOUR DISTRICT VOTE GOES TO A WINNING CANDIDATE, PLEASE VOTE FOR ONE OF THE ALTERNATES FOR THE SECOND ROUND” or something like that. This avoids the possibility of an under-hang and also avoids giving party control over nominating a candidate “behind the scenes”. So, if Mr. Juanito Pérez wins in more than 1 SMD race, which I think could happen above the norm if my proposal were eventually used, he gets to represent the district where he won the most votes; then we look at the alternate votes and let’s say that Mrs. Juanita Pérez got the most alternate votes in a SMD. She would represent the eventual “other” SMD that Mr. Juanito Pérez won.

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