Articles

Fri 11th Sep 2009

Proposed new constitution is mathematically flawed

SVG Green Party has analysed the proposed new SVG constitution and discovered that the main tenet of the proposed new constitution, the proportional representation element, makes the representation in Parliament mathematically flawed. It cannot be presented to the people at the referendum scheduled for 25th November 2009.

We are calling on His Excellency the Governor General of SVG, the CRC and members of Parliament to take an in-depth look at the very strong possibility of the dire consequences that this mathematically flawed element can cause, such as political disaffection and social unrest which could lead to fatalities.

Under the new constitution, there are seventeen elected constituency members and ten proportional representation members (PR members). Usually, there is one proportional representation seat for every ten percent of the popular votes, plus one, received. The constitution is mathematically flawed as the following examples prove.

Example 1

In the event that a general election is held in SVG with the three political parties contesting - Party A, B and C.

Party A. Wins 7 constituencies, with 38% of the popular votes, (entitled to 3 PR members), will be entitled to 10 members in the new Parliament.

Party B. Wins 6 constituencies, with 43 % of the popular votes, (entitled to 6 PR members), will be entitled to 12 members in the new Parliament.

Party C. Wins 4 constituencies, with 19% of the popular votes, (entitled to 1 PR members), will be entitled to 5 members in the new Parliament.

The proposed proportional representation element makes the electoral system under the new model flawed, because it gives disproportional strength to different sized constituencies. The nominated proportional element renders the new voting model mathematically flawed.

Example 2

Where only two parties are contesting.

Party A. Wins 9 constituencies with 40% of the popular votes, (entitled to 3 PR members), will be entitled to 12 members in Parliament.

Party B. Wins 8 of the constituencies with 60% of the votes cast, (entitled to 7 PR members), will be entitled to 15 members in the Parliament.

This is the 1998 elections scenario playing itself out here, which resulted in serious unrest in SVG, when a senior member of the ULP is on record as saying they will make the country ungovernable.

The constitution does not specify or make provision as to which Party, A or B, should form the government when such a result occurs. Should it be the one with most constituencies or the one with most PR members or the one with the total number of members of parliament.

Example 3

Where only two parties are contesting.

Party A. Wins 8 constituencies with 50% of the popular votes, (entitled to 4 PR members), will be entitled to 12 members in Parliament.

Party B. Wins 9 of the constituencies with 50% of the votes cast, (entitled to 6 PR members), will be entitled to 15 members in the Parliament.

Unless these serious mathematical flaws are corrected by an amendment, the proposed new constitution cannot be presented to the people at a referendum on 25th November 2009, as a matter of following in the spirit of the rule of law.

Example 4

Where three political parties contesting.

Party A. Wins 9 constituencies, with 40% of the popular votes, (entitled to 6 PR members), will be unfairly entitled to 15 members in the new Parliament.

Party B. Wins 8 constituencies, with 40 % of the popular votes, (entitled to 3 PR members), will be entitled to only 11 members in the new Parliament.

Party C. Wins 0 constituencies, with 20% of the popular votes, (entitled to 1 PR members), will be entitled to only 1 member in the new Parliament.

Conclusions

SVG Green Party has highlighted a serious problem caused by the proportional representational element. For the policy makers to ignore this call will be a blatant act of arrogance against the people. Under the second example given, which party is constitutionally entitled to form government, Party A or Party B?

We know of no country in the world that has the dual voting system - proportional representation element and first pass the post - for voting in members of parliament such as what the ULP are proposing. It makes no sense having proportional representation AND first past the post systems combined. You either have one or the other - not both!

There is unfair weighting on different sized constituencies, small constituencies automatically have a lower weighting towards the popular voted members of parliament. For example, the Southern Grenadines has about 2600 electors, yet East St. George has about 7600, almost 3 times as much.

Also, this PR system the ULP want, where it is possible to get unallocated seats which are then ALL given to the party with the most constituencies when there is a tie in number of votes (as in example 3) is flawed and highly unfair. The whole system for allocating PR members of parliament is unusual, unfair and unintelligent. It leads to unfair power distribution systems which will not uphold true democracy.

These serious mathematical flaws have to be rectified and amended by Parliament beyond any shadow of doubt as to which party will form government in these likely scenarios and to make election of members to parliament truly fair. What games are the ULP playing with us and our constitution?

The major problem with the old constitution is the non compliance on finance by government ministries. The present Director of Audit does not have the power to impose penalties. The new constitution has totally ignored this crucial non-compliance element, which is haemorrhaging millions of taxpayer's money annually.

It would be wrong and immoral to go ahead with this constitution as it is. It needs much updating and amending and then the public should be allowed a reasonable amount of time to analyse it again and absorb the necessary changes.

Vote NO to this undemocratic and messy proposed constitution!

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