Tweaks to MMP in Germany?

I am aware that there have been ongoing efforts to introduce some small reforms in the mixed-member proportional (MMP) system in Germany. The main challenge is to prevent the Bundestag from expanding so much in size, since a Constitutional Court ruling mandated full compensation.

The brief background is that the system has long had the potential for adding seats to cope with “overhangs”, which happen when a party in a state wins more districts than its party-list share would entitle it to. The Court ruled that the procedure in place over many elections still left the system unacceptably disproportional. (Manuel posted a good primer on the changes back in 2013; see also a long and interesting comment thread here on F&V.)

There are proposals currently being considered in the Bundestag that would attempt to limit the expansion in the chamber’s size that the current system allows. For instance, in 2017, the size went from the basic 598 (299 nominal and initially as many list) to 709 (401 list seats!).

The article I have is from AP, and (predictably) is thin on detail. All it says in the way of substance is:

The new proposal mainly involves keeping the number of constituencies unchanged in the 2021 election but slightly reducing the number of extra seats. By the time of the 2025 election, it calls for the number of constituencies to be cut to 280. A reform commission is supposed to produce a detailed plan.

The article also notes that opposition parties “weren’t impressed.”

I hope some readers might have more detail on what is being proposed.

52 thoughts on “Tweaks to MMP in Germany?

  1. This article (https://verfassungsblog.de/minority-power/) outlines some of the history of this proposal. It seems to have been on the agenda since the 2017 election, with the non-government parties proposing a change in the ratio of SMD to list seats from 50:50 to 40:60 and the governing parties opposing this because of their large number of members elected in SMDs. As that piece says, the government appears to have put forward a watered-down version of this proposal which cuts the number of SMD seats only slightly.

    • I was seeing that in just this post. The governing parties are the parties that win nearly all of the direct mandates and, thus, nearly all of the overhang, In theory and on first glance 5% of seats is still 5% of seats. But the big parties would lose some backbenchers, or whatever they’re called in Germany, if the Bundestag shrinks. A smaller party might find its delegation shrinking and making its work difficult.

      • A party might just feel that it sounds more important with 43 people of 799 than 22 out of 400. Especially when dividing up portfolios and committee work. if they do that sort of thing in Germany.

        I also am the odd person that believes most assemblies are undersized. “Too big” is more a statement of degree to me than a problem.

  2. It seems that the disadvantage of MMP is with too many overhangs. Why does Germany have so many and not NZ? Is it because it’s list seats are allocated regionally and not nationally? Do the various regions get more seats due to overhangs or is there a third national tier?

    • I think it may have something to do with the vote share of minor parties. Labour and Nationals in nearly all of the constituencies and get a collective 80% of the vote. The CDU/CSU and SPD win nearly all of the direct mandates while collectively only getting 53% of the vote. (2017 numbers for both)

      • And yet under MMP in Germany, in the 1950s and 1960s the big two (yes, yes, “big 1+2/2”, CDU and CSU are separate parties, duly noted) used to also poll an aggregate 80% or so.
        Thesis for consideration: if MMP offers favourable conditions for numerous medium-sized parties (as long as each can clear a 5% voting threshold), it may lead to FPTP-level disproportionalities at the district level that keep requiring ever more top-up seats?
        Maybe the Scots have the right approach… if the SNP polls 52% in a region and wins 10 out of 11 constituency seats, then it keeps all eleven and the region stays at 17 seats, even if the 6 top-ups are not enough to return to full proportionality.
        Malcolm Mackerras, a distinguished but extremely eccentric Australian psephologist, wanted NZ to adopt a fixed cap on the basis that there had to be some incentive for parties to win district seats. Otherwise, he said, winning district seats is a net loss for a NZ party – it has less power over which candidates get to fill its seats (its carefully-drawn-up list can be randomly rearranged by the vagaries of the FPTP system, while the over-5% minor parties have 100% unimpeded control over who their MPs will be) and it risks losing seats at by-elections, a gauntlet that the over-5% district-less minor parties do not need to run.

  3. I reckon that’s the main disadvantage of MMP, the huge increase of seats in parliament and I’m not even a small parliament fan, but only the fact that you have no idea abaout how many seat will exist in the legislature is terrible, especially in a parliamentary system.
    I truly think MMP is the one of the best voting systems ever, since mixes local representation and proportionality, and after some research my guess is that these huge increases of seat (which happens much more often in Germany tha in New Zealand) is because the seats are allocated regionally and not nationally (what happens in New Zealand). That also creates a disproportion between the states, overrepresenting some states and underrepresenting others.

  4. How would a fixed cap on the basis that there had to be some incentive for parties to win district seats? Could there ever be a MMP system that required to get any list seats that a party had to win a minimum of 3 seats SMD? Assume Germany and NZ abolished the 5% threshold and for Germany has the three seat requirement or NZ has 1 seat requirement to gain list seats allocations. That would force small parties to be dependent on large parties to let them win some SMD seats. Would that remove the disproportionality?

    Do most countries that MMP like Germany make the mistake in having a 50:50 ratio of SMD and Regional List Seats? Would it be better to have a ration of 40:40:20; 40% SMD, 40% Regional List, 20% National List? Overhangs could still happen.

    • A fixed cap would mean that if there are (say) 60 districts and another 40 top-up seats – maximum – then if the largest party wins, say, 50 of 60 districts on about 45% of the vote, a Canadian-province sort of result, it keeps 50 seats out of 100. Under this version, extra seats are not created to make its total 50 out of 111.
      I do see Mackerras’ point. Under either the NZ or the German model, 15 list seats and 5 district seats is a better result for your party than 15 district seats and 5 from the list, for the reasons noted. There is no particular reason to try to win local seats other than to maximise the vote for your list. Australian parties will likewise contest single-seat districts they have no hope of winning in order that their poll workers will maximise the vote for the Senate or Legislative Council ticket – or, for the Brisbane City Council, the Lord Mayor – with the difference that they aren’t docked an equal number of upper house seats if they are (by the logic of single-member thinkers) popular enough to win lower house seats.

      • Mackerras does indeed make a good point. However, I think it exaggerates the difference between nominal and list MPs. If I understand the claim adequately, it is assuming that nominal (district) MPs are significantly more independent of their parties than list MPs. I think there is almost no evidence to back that up in the practice of either Germany or New Zealand. There is evidence of some different behavior, but most of that is quite likely because parties actually benefit from having district-focused MPs, and hence encourage such behavior, not (mostly) because those MPs are acting on their own. In other words, under MMP it is good to have candidates capable of winning districts, even if it will not generate overhangs, and I think the Mackerras point might be overlooking that, if it implies that the party actually would prefer all its MPs be from the list because they are somehow more controllable. That just is not how MMP works, from my understanding of the political science literature and from my own research.

        I also agree with ThurlerAlfena (03/09/2020 at 1:26 pm) that a significant problem for Germany is the determination of overhangs at state (Land) level, but overall proportionality nationwide (taken to a rather extreme extent since the Constitutional Court ruling). The state level is bound to have some lopsided district results–all the more so as the party system gets more fragmented–and that is where the overhangs come in.

      • Thanks, MSS, but even if Mackerras is incorrect that the list-MPs are more controllable, his point that a party with 20 list MPs knows it will keep those seats for the entire Parliamentary term, come hell or high water, whereas a party with 5 local seats out of 20 could conceivably be cut back to 15 seats due to a Joe Clark-like run of bad luck at by-elections, still stands?

      • Baby and bathwater, I can hear most MMP supporters in the common-law world replying. “All MPs, even the local members, are replaced from the party list” was a bridge too far even for the NZ Royal Commission.
        Does Germany still stipulate that “overhang” constituency members are not replaced from the list? (That might be one way to deal with the problem, if there are no ad hoc created seats or only a limited number. So if the SNP, as above, were to poll 52% in a 17-seat region and win 10 out of 11 constituency seats, it would keep those seats, but the first two of its members who vacated would automatically go to other parties until overall proportionality was restored.
        There are not many precedents where it’s known with 99+% certainty that a different party will claim the seat if a sitting member vacates – party lists make it a near-certainty the seat will stay with the same party, by-elections at least leave it open – although US Senate seats would offer an example, at least in a State whose laws allow a long delay for a special by-election and where the Governor can appoint someone from a different party to the opposing Senator.

      • Also, Mackerras’ point that parties have more “control” over a list-only delegation than over one where all or most MPs won constituencies applies even if the MPs on the list are free-voting mavericks. Ie, he may have meant “control” in the sense of “deciding that, if we win 6 seats, it will be candidates A, B, C, D, E and F and not some other combination” rather than in the South African sense of “If they defy the party whip we can remove them from Parliament”. A party may take great care to make sure that 5 of its 10 candidates for the districts within range of a 1% swing, and 15 of its 30 candidates for seats within 3% range, and 30 out of 60 candidates for the seats within a 5% range, etc are women – yet a few dozen votes in Taurahungrimaki East or Chippingdale Central can mean that its (say) 25 MPs are 17 males representing districts, 3 females representing districts, and 3 females from the list.
        By analogy, if we allowed sheriffs to hand-pick jurors we would say that the prosecution has too much “control” over the jury even if the individuals selected cannot be told how to vote by the sheriff after being empanelled.

      • If anyone has a link (or other reference) to this Mackerras argument we are discussing, I’d like to follow it up. I probably should not criticize too much something I’ve never actually read. But based on what has come up in this thread, I am not finding it too convincing.

      • As I said, Mackerras is very eccentric in a sort of Oxford-don way. Very good on the “well of course this seat will go Labor with a 2.73% swing because in 1967 the Liberal candidate was a Freemason with a drinking problem” sort of detail, but on other matters the good professor is all over the shop. I still cannot work out whether he favours above-the-line voting or not. Eg, here https://www.malcolmmackerras.com/articles/2020/7/19/three-cheers-for-the-australian-electoral-commission he complains that “in the autumn of 2016, the federal politicians replaced the honest Senate voting system prevailing from December 1984 to April 2014 by the present dishonest system prevailing at the July 2016 and May 2019 Senate elections” whereas here he compplains that “Senators are not directly chosen by the people, they are appointed by party machines. As a result of the negligence of the High Court in its duty to uphold the people’s Constitution the words ‘directly chosen by the people’ are not operative”. As far as I can tell, Mackerras seems to be complaining that the post-2016 Senate system is MORE indirect and more “above-the-line”-controlled than the 1984-2013 system, which is bonkers. (Hello? Lisa Singh?). Did I mention he’s a monarchist too?

      • Second quote is from here: https://switzer.com.au/the-experts/malcolm-mackerras/why-i-admire-bob-the-builder/ – one of many places where Prof Mackerras has complained that the post-2016 Senate system is a swindle and a rort devised by the politicians to take control away from the voters.
        Compared to Hare-Clark or the Irish/ Maltese STV models, the current system is rather stage-managed, true. But to hold up the 1984-2013 system as an ideal for “chosen directly by the people” is like criticising Viktor Orban for chipping away at democracy… and then praising the glorious good old days of Janos Kadar.

  5. As a German, reading this discussion is really interesting. I try to add some things:

    The published document agreed on by the heads of all 3 coalition parties states that, for the upcoming election in the fall of 2021 “up to 3” overhanging seats shall not be compensated.

    This has raised some question, not the least of which is just which seats are exactly overhanging: The way the system is set up, you can see that a party is overhanging in one state, but there is no way of pinning the overhang to one particular seat. However, if some overhangig seats were not to be compensated, that could become important as the Federal Constitutional Court held that there can be no replacement from the state list for vacated overhang seats that are not compensated – and as hschlechta rightly noted, by-elections are alien to German electoral law.

    There is the different problem that the language is not at all clear if the “up to 3 overhanging seats” are meant in total, for each state for each party. The FCC once held that there could be no more than 15 uncompensated overhang seats, so each state would be ruled.

    We’ll have to wait for more concrete legislation, which would have to happen rather soon anyway for the upcoming election in one year’s time, as local party chapters will soon start nominating the candidates for the districts.

    @ ThurlerAlfena:

    I found your view interesting that you consider a fixed number of seats essential for a parliamentary system. I don’t know of anyone in Germany having ever seen a varying number of seats problematic. It had (in arguably even more patent form) ben already part of the Weimar Republic’s a “automatic computation” system. It only became an issue this term because of the size of this Bundestag, but not a question of principle.

    • How are seats filled in Germany’s SMD if there are no by elections? Is it like a party list that elects one member and if the seat is vacant, the next person on the list fills it?

      Does Germany have what other continental European countries have substitutes/alternates filling in for a seat when the Chancellor appoints a cabinet member and returns to the seat when they cease to be a cabinet member?

      • Unless I am mistake, or they’ve changed things, if a direct mandate falls vacant, the next person on the party list of the original winner gets the seat. A by-election could happen if an independent won and then vacated the seat.

      • Yes, the next one on the party’s list in the state. There is no “alternate” or “substitute” list to my knowledge. But parties typically have many candidates on their list at the election who had no realistic chance of being elected. So having personnel able to fill a seat when one becomes open is not likely to be a problem.

        Does anyone know how common it is for nominal seats to be vacated between elections?

        (Note: I really bristle at the common use of “direct” for these seats. Both tiers consist of members directly elected, but by different electoral rules. It’s like the old canard about party lists somehow allowing parties to “appoint” legislators.)

    • Very interesting points, Adonis. Thank you.

      It would be important to get a clarification, as you note, as to what that phrase, “up to 3,” means.

      • @ msshugart:

        Objecting to calling district MPs directly elected does only make sense if that is connected to some opprobrium towards the MPs elected through the list vote. Which I could see coming from people used to a system solely based on winning a plurality in some geographical area.

        But I agree with Wilf Day that this does not happen in Germany, at least I’ve never encountered it in the media or elsewhere. Most people wouldn’t even know (or care) whether a certain politician was elected with the first vote or through the list vote.

  6. @ Rob:

    Mark Roth is right: A by-election on account of a member vacating his or her seat would only happen if there was no party list admitted in that state for the party which nominated the member. Otherwise the first person not yet elected will fill the seat for the remainder of the term.

    The rule of alternates for cabinet members is only in place in the states with a Hanseatic constitutional tradition (i. e. Hamburg and Bremen), but not on the federal level.
    In fact, neither the chancellor nor any minister need even be a member of the Bundestag (and in fact former chancellor Kurt-Georg Kiesinger was not during his chancellorship). This is something that many of my friends used to a Westminster system seemed to be very surprised about.

    • Which is ironic because MMP supporters in Westminster countries sometimes praise the lists side as a way to get the real Ministerial talent into the Parliament without needing to dirty their hands meeting actual voters. Gemma Hussey in Ireland frequently pushes this view. It would seem simpler to keep direct election (STV, free lists, open lists, even FPTP in its own way) and allow non-MPs to be appointed as Ministers.
      The late Professor George Winterton, who wrote a very comprehensive and detailed discussion of how Australia could become a republic (as opposed to the usual “I was hurt to have to queue at Heathrow!” or “we need to a republic so we can take the Union Jack off the flag!” or, after the 1975 Whitlam Dismissal “We need a republic so that never again can a head of state intervene to dissolve parliament against the wishes of a prime minister who commands a majority!” or even – gods help us – “We need a republic so we can be like Canada”) considered it a weakness of the US system that sacked Cabinet members don’t stay in Congress but instead retire to private life. (To be fair, he wrote this in 1986, decades before Twitter). He thought this made them weaker and less independent vis-a-vis the President; he can sack them but they – unlike backbenchers with a Prime Minister [GW was unusually prescient at this point] – they can’t sack him. And indeed, if all the disgruntled former Trump appointees had Senate seats, they would be nearly numerous enough to sustain a filibuster.
      Me? Well, I’d let non-MPs into Cabinet (if that were considered desirable) not by letting non-MPs be Ministers but by allowing the Head of State (whether ceremonial or executive) to appoint a small number (3 or 4) of MPs, who could then be Ministers. In a unicameral legislature (or one with an elective upper house) they should be non-voting []; otherwise they could fit easily into an appointed Senate. Anyway, the important point would be that they would keep their legislative seats, for the remainder of the term, even if sacked from the Cabinet.
      [
      Unless holding a proxy for a absent elected member]

    • Why do all Westminster democracies require all cabinet ministers to be members of parliament?

      Do the other Presidentialist democracies besides the US require no cabinet members to be members of a legislative body?

      I would imagine that confirmation of a cabinet member who is not a member of a legislative body is proper and necessary because the individual is not vetted, as in the situation if members of a legislative body are cabinet ministers because they are elected.

      The Germans don’t care one way or another, but interestingly Japan requires a majority of cabinet ministers including the Prime Minister to be members of the Diet. Westminster democracies could find appeal in that.

      • I think Japan has the right rule. I would probably add the deputy prime minister, acting prime minister* and the treasurer to the class of cabinet members who must be MPs.

        *Thou shalt not act as prime minister unless thou beest an elected member of parliament.

    • And one addendum with regard to vacant seats left unfilled:

      This happened to the CDU in the 2013-2017 Bundestag term. After their unexpectedly strong result in the 2013 election, the CDU had won 9 out of 10 districts in Brandenburg. One of their members died, so the 10th from the state list took over. Towards to the end of the term, one MP from Brandenburg took over an official post as a government commissioner and had to leave the Bundestag. Since the CDU list for Brandenburg had been exhausted, her seat was not filled and the CDU permanently lost one vote in the Bundestag for the rest of the term.

      It was somewhat unusual though that only the district candidates were put on the state list. Usually parties will add some mayors or local party honchos to pad out a state list, which I expect the Brandenburg CDU will be doing now, too, after squandering a seat like that.

      • Thanks, Adonis, interesting example. Years ago I read(ed) about a similar instance from the 1970s, in a book now long lost.
        Are there any limits on how many candidates a party can place on its Land list? Eg, if the Land has 20 constituencies, can a list contain more than 20 names? Some PR-list systems set a minimum number, others leave it open.

      • Electors in Baden-Wurttemberg have only 1 vote, with the MMP “list” members drawn from unsuccessful local candidates. In addition to their principal candidate, a party may name a substitute (“backstop”?) candidate to stand in a district.

        If Bing Translate and I correctly understand Section 47 of the “Gesetz uber die Landtagswahlen”, if an elected candidate dies, is disqualified or resigns, then the substitute shall take his place.

        Between unsuccessful primary and substitute candidates, there would seem to be little danger of exhausting the list in B-W.

      • That’s a very interesting case! And, right, a party can make this much less likely to happen simply by having a few list-only candidates.

    • I once had someone express shock at my “impossible” assertion that ministers in the Netherlands must leave the Second Chamber. His rational was that no one would be able to serve in the Dutch cabinet unless they held the safest of seats that wouldn’t be lost at the ensuing by-election. I hope that most people are marginally more aware that there are possibilities beyond that Westminster system as practiced in Canada.

      I had personally never seen the need for minister to be in parliament. If I were designing a system, I would simply give them all of the privileges of membership, except the vote, in whatever house(s) of parliament that they were not elected to. I do see, and did not consider before, merit in the ‘former cabinet holding some sway over the leader from the backbench’ idea. Especially with leaders elected by the party and not the caucus/party room.

      • Mark, I know this isn’t what they meant, but funnily enough ministers which are recruited from parliament (which is usually most of them) do tend to come from the Dutch equivalent of ‘safe seats’ – i.e. the top ranks of the party list.

        There’s also a funny rule which ensures that ministers often do return to parliament when they resign. In the Netherlands, a vacancy is filled with by the highest-ranking candidate on the list not currently serving as MP. Say a party won 10 seats at the election, and got one cabinet seat, taken by by #1 on the list – his vacant seat is then filled by #11 on the list. But if that minister later resigns, and the party decides to replace him with another MP, the just-resigned minister has first dibs on the seat in parliament, not #12 on the list – because said ex-minister is the highest-ranking candidate on the list not currently serving as MP. So MPs and ministers (at least ones appointed from parliament) of the same party can effectively switch positions quite easily. I don’t know how unusual this kind of vacancy-filling rule is among list-PR countries internationally, but I was quite surprised when I learnt this about five years ago, since I assumed that list substitutions worked purely sequentially, so that someone who had served as MP and then resigned cannot later return. Given the flexibility it offers, I suppose the Dutch system does make sense.

  7. Regarding the comments by Wilf and Adonis above, in response to my objection to using the word, “direct”, to refer to the nominally (district) elected members…

    Yes, I am aware that in Germany this does not imply distinct status. In fact, my objection to the Mackerras point discussed elsewhere in this thread was based precisely on there being little evidence of differential status of real substantive significance (even in New Zealand, where there is a status difference to some degree, e.g. concerning office resources). But the point is general. To most English readers, at least, “direct” implies a higher legitimacy whereas the others must be merely “appointed”/”indirectly” elected. For comparative and pedagogical purposes–i.e., the purposes for which both this blog and my academic work exist–it would be far preferable to avoid this apparent dichotomy (at least in English).

    Both are directly elected, whether nominally (votes cast for a person) or by list. Both are also, by the way, elected from lists–in one tier the list contains one name, whereas in the other it contains several. Electoral systems are generally marked by continuums and degrees, not dichotomies.

    • Interesting, JD. The three Australian STV-PR assemblies that fill vacancies via countbacks (ACT, Tasmania, WA) all bar vacating MPs from re-nominating for any subsequent vacancies later in that same parliamentary term. Once you’re out, you stay out (with only the very outside chance of a by-election in Tasmania).
      That said, all of those three also allow (indeed, require) Ministers to continue serving as MPs.

      • Eek! I found a bunch of them in there, some back years. I stopped going back and clicking “Approve” after some time in 2015. (Maybe some of those got posted already on later attempts.)

        I am sorry you are having this trouble. There was also one in there by Alan that I approved. I do not remember what thread or year. But I guess the filter is being a wee bit overly aggressive.

  8. “Direct” vs “indirect” is a spectrum. The US Electoral College is very close to the “direct” end of indirect – the geographical distortion is not inherent in interposing live human electors between the popular vote and the outcome, since there exist systems that weight territorial units without allowing any discretion: eg, the former or current “carry X number of counties or House districts” unit rules that some US States have used to elect their Governors. (Indeed, the Australian and Swiss majority-of-States rule for constitutional referenda can result in a popular majority losing even a “direct” vote). The US could, in principle, change to “The candidate who wins the popular vote in enough States to gain a majority of automatic Electoral Votes, is declared Presidential on election night”. Would this still be “indirect”? Or France could change to “The voters, they shall elect the College electoral of 499 Grand Electors, chosen by the nationwide vote by the scrutin proportionelle, and the Grand Electors shall then choose the President of the Republic” – this would be “indirect” even if there is zero geographical distortion.
    Rogue electors do interpose some element of “indirectness”, but they are few in number, and further eclipsed by the use of winner-take-all statewide, which normally inflates majorities in the College, so they don’t change the result.
    Electing single-purpose electors who exercise more discretion, especially if a single-party majority is unlikely, would be more indirect (eg, Finland before 1994).
    The next step is using officials already elected for different purposes as ex officio electors (eg, local or regional legislators to choose the Dutch Senate, the French Senate, and formerly the French presidency and the US Senate).
    As for the voting system, I would say the most direct systems are those where a ballot cannot be counted for a candidate unless there is a tick, cross, chad, number etc next to that candidate’s name. More-indirect are those where there is some way that a vote for a ticket or party list can be credited to candidates not ticked/ numbered individually. If the party ticket is published in advance, and “above the line” votes are treated legally the same as “below the line”, and (important stipulation) it is not orders of magnitude longer and riskier to vote “below the line”, then this is still close to “direct”. (In 1984, the High Court of Australia upheld ticket-voting against a “directly chosen” constitutional challenge because – and on condition that – ATL was just a quicker shortcut to voting for the most popular expected permutations of BTL preferences. The system Parliament legislated for the 1997-1998 “ConCon” postal ballot – tickets could number every candidate but BTL preferences could not exceed basically the number of seats – would have been invalid if used for the House or Senate).
    With list systems, free and open lists are the closest to direct; then flexible lists; and finally rigid lists. Myself I would say the latter just scrape in as “direct”, if and because the names are published in advance and that order is definitive for the full parliamentary term. If and once, eg, parties can recall their MPs mid-term (eg, South Africa, formerly Indonesia) or can appoint non-candidates to fill vacancies (sometimes allowed, without a by-election, if the list runs out of names), then the nexus is broken and the system becomes “indirect”. Because no longer can a voter, on election day, armed with copies of the lists and the figures on each party’s vote percentage, predict who will be in the next legislature. The parties will be able to alter that makeup, even without disasters intervening and without any fresh elections being required.

    • It’s all a spectrum. That’s the point!

      I agree that the US electoral college is pretty close to being “direct” despite the formal intermediation. I’d still say it is less “direct” than election of legislators from a party list. There is only a (prior) nomination process between the candidates and their election from a list–even a closed list. There is also (usually) such a step before the election of an individual in a single-seat district–it is a list consisting of one candidate. There is actually another step between voters and the ultimate outcome in the case of the US electoral college, even if the electors are usually reliable for those who selected them.

      • Wasn’t there a time when voters voted for individual members of the electoral college? Wasn’t the 1960 Presidential election in Alabama the last time this was done? Seems to me the US electoral college is a party bloc vote system and/or plurality at large, but is similar to a closed party list system without proportionality, is this accurate?

        Why did US states started allowing voters to vote for President, instead of the state legislature choosing electors?

        Could members of a state legislative body be members of the electoral college?

        Let’s do a what if, a member of congress is appointed to cabinet and approved by the Senate, then they have to resign from Congress, too bad they could not go back to Congress once the President dismisses them or they resigned from cabinet. It doesn’t seem to prohibit this in the enoulments or ineligibility clause. There is no such thing as alternate or substitute members of Congress, oddly enough there is such a thing for members of electoral college.

      • There were people voting for Electors as early as the 1788 election. Outside of South Carolina, which had legislative elections for Electors until the Civil War, state legislatures selecting Electors was always a minority position. I believe it was Madison’s intent that Electors always be elected. He did at at least one point propose writing an amendment to explicitly impose such a system. Partisan politics turned them into living machines that simply flipped a switch.

      • Are we talking about “direct popular election of Electors – whether by voting for individuals, voting for whole party tickets, or both – as opposed to appointment by State legislatures”, or are we talking about the different methods of popular voting for Electors?

      • Sorry. Yes, individual voters voting for Electors. Not people who happen to be legislators.

    • I see J.-Mad was onto the “Condorcet/ Bayrou” paradox:
      “It might be a question, whether the three instead of the two highest names, might not be put within the choice of Congress; inasmuch as it not unfrequently happens, that the Candidate third on the list of votes, would in a question with either of the two first, outvote him, & consequently be the real preference of the Voters.”

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