HotFreeBooks.com
Proportional Representation Applied To Party Government
by T. R. Ashworth and H. P. C. Ashworth
Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Dr. Snow evidently thought that it is not possible to direct the current of public opinion into exactly two channels. He certainly had not the slightest idea that it might be a matter of electoral machinery.

Finally, we may quote the opinion of Mr. James Bryce, M.P., whose "American Commonwealth" is one of the most complete studies of the tendencies of democracy in existence. Comparing the English and American systems, he writes of the former:—

That system could not be deemed to have reached its maturity till the power of the people at large had been established by the Reform Act of 1832. For its essence resides in the delicate equipoise it creates between the three powers, the ministry, the House of Commons, and the people. The House is strong because it can call the ministry to account for every act, and can by refusing supplies compel their resignation. The ministry are not defenceless, because they can dissolve Parliament, and ask the people to judge between it and them. Parliament, when it displaces a ministry, does not strike at executive authority; it merely changes its agents. The ministry when they dissolve Parliament do not attack Parliament as an institution; they recognise the supremacy of the body in asking the country to change the individuals who compose it. Both the House of Commons and the ministry act and move in the full view of the people, who sit as arbiters, prepared to judge in any controversy that may arise. The House is in touch with the people, because every member must watch the lights and shadows of sentiment which play over his own constituency. The ministry are in touch with the people, because they are not only themselves representatives, but are heads of a great party, sensitive to its feelings, forced to weigh the effect of every act they do upon the confidence which the party places in them.... The drawback to this system of exquisite equipoise is the liability of its equilibrium to be frequently disturbed, each disturbance involving either a change of government, with immense temporary inconvenience to the departments, or a general election, with immense expenditure of money and trouble in the country. It is a system whose successful working presupposes the existence of two great parties and no more, parties each strong enough to restrain the violence of the other, yet one of them steadily predominant in any given House of Commons. Where a third, perhaps a fourth, party appears, the conditions are changed. The scales of Parliament oscillate as the weight of this detached group is thrown on one side or the other; dissolutions become more frequent, and even dissolutions may fail to restore stability. The recent history of the French Republic has shown the difficulties of working a Chamber composed of groups, nor is the same source of difficulty unknown in England. (Vol. i., pp. 286, 287.)

Thus we find the opinion unanimously held that the one great fault to which cabinet government is liable is instability of the ministry, owing to imperfect organization of public opinion into two definite lines of policy. Bagehot called it a case of unstable equilibrium, and Bradford, in "The Lesson of Popular Government," goes further when he declares:—"Not to speak disrespectfully, the ministry is like a company of men who, after excessive conviviality, are able to stand upright only by holding on to each other."

Yet, after all, the amount of stability simply depends on the state of organization; and England has demonstrated in the golden period of her political history (about the middle of the present century) that the cabinet form of government can be quite as stable as the presidential form. Therefore, if the present position gives cause for alarm, it is not in the abolition of the cabinet or the restriction of the suffrage that the remedy must be sought, but in improved organization. And this, we hope to show, involves improved electoral machinery.

France.—Turn to France. Is there no lesson to be drawn from the history of that unstable country since the Revolution let loose its flood of human passions, ambitions, and aspirations? Has not every attempt at popular government failed for the same cause—want of organization?

France before the Revolution had groaned for centuries under the burden of a decayed feudalism and an absolute monarchy. The last vestige of constitutional forms had disappeared. The representatives of the estates had not been convened since the meeting of the States-General in 1614. The widespread and unprecedented misery of the people caused them to revolt against being taxed without their consent, and a cry went up for a convocation of the estates. The finances were in such a bad way that Louis XVI. was forced to consent, and the three estates—clergy, nobles, and commons—met at Versailles in 1789. At first they called themselves the National Assembly, but the King foolishly took up such a position with regard to the people's representatives that they swore solemnly that they would not separate till they had laid the foundation of a new Constitution, and henceforth were known as the Constituent Assembly. It was determined that the King should no longer be absolute, and the choice lay between a constitutional monarchy and a republic. The Declaration of the Rights of Man was first drawn up, and the Assembly settled down to its task. The leading spirit was Mirabeau. He had been to England, and had studied the British Constitution, and he rightly saw that France was too distracted by faction to maintain an independent executive. He therefore openly advocated a constitutional monarchy with a cabinet chosen from among the majority of the representatives. But, unfortunately, the Assembly refused to follow his lead; nor would the King take his advice to make a separate appeal to the people. In the midst of the negotiations Mirabeau died, and the last chance of establishing a constitutional monarchy disappeared. The King realized this, and tried to escape to the German frontier but was brought back. He then accepted the new Constitution, and the Legislative Assembly was elected in 1791. From the first it had no elements of stability, being split up into groups, and subject to the fear of the Paris mob. The King continued to plot with the emigrant nobles against the Constitution, and the foreign armies massed on the frontier. The danger brought on the triumph of the revolutionary spirit in 1792. The Paris commune overwhelmed both the King and the Assembly, and the republic was proclaimed. Then followed the execution of the King, the Reign of Terror, the control of the Committee of Public Safety, till finally the anarchy was ended by the military despotism of Bonaparte, who became First Consul and afterwards Emperor.

What is the significance of these events in the light of our previous examination of English history? Simply this: That the French, in passing at once from absolutism and feudalism to complete self-government, were trying to jump to the Second stage of representation without passing through the first stage. Mirabeau was right; the republic was foredoomed to failure because the people had learned neither the power of nor the necessity for organization.

In many respects the French Revolution parallels the English Revolution. In each case the King was beheaded; in each case the anarchy of a disorganized representative body was succeeded by a military despotism; and in each case the monarchy was restored.

It was after the restoration that the English system of party government was developed. Why did this system not now take root in France? Partly because France was not blessed with a king like William of Orange, and partly because the new systeme de bascule, the balance system, in which the king allows each faction in turn to hold the reins of power, was discovered. So, instead of the gradual growth of constitutional liberty which took place in England, the tendency in France was back to absolutism. In 1830 Charles X., finding that he could not manage the Chamber of Deputies, issued the ordinances of St. Cloud, suspending the liberty of the press and dissolving the Legislature. Paris immediately broke out into insurrection, and the King was forced to abdicate. The crown was offered to Louis Philippe, and a second attempt at constitutional monarchy was made. But France was too divided by her unfortunate legacy of faction to maintain a continuous policy. The Legitimists, the Republicans, and the Bonapartists were all awaiting their opportunity. In 1848 the second revolution broke out in Paris; the king fled to England, and a republic was again tried. But the imperialist idea revived when Louis Napoleon was elected President. In 1851 he carried out his famous coup d'etat, and again the Constitution was swept away. In the following year he was accepted as Emperor by an almost unanimous vote. Thus France again elected to be ruled by an irresponsible head. The Third Empire ended with the capture of Napoleon III. at Sedan in 1870, and since then France has carried on her third experiment in republicanism. But still the fatal defect of disorganization retards her progress; the Legislature is still split up into contending factions, and in consequence it has been found impossible to maintain a strong executive. Occasionally the factions sink their differences for a time when their patriotism is appealed to, as they have agreed to do during the currency of the present Exhibition, but it is abundantly evident that France can never be well governed till the people are able to organize two coherent parties. There is ground for hope that the monarchical and imperialist ideas are declining, and that the people are settling down to the conviction that there is nothing left but the republic. What makes recovery difficult is that the national character has been affected by the continual strife in the direction of excitability and desire for change.

Those who wish to understand the forces which brought about the different changes and revolutions, traced by one who has grasped their meaning, should read the account in the first volume of Mr. Bradford's "Lesson of Popular Government." His conclusion only need be quoted here:—

As has been said, that which constitutes the strength of the English. Government, that which has made up its history for the last two hundred years, is the growth and continuity of two solid and coherent parties. Occasionally they have wavered when available leaders and issues were wanting, but as soon as a strong man came forward to take the reins the ranks closed up and the work of mutual competition again went on. On the other hand, the curse and the cause of failure of representative government on the Continent of Europe is the formation within the legislature of unstable and dissolving groups. In France the Extreme Eight, the Eight, the Eight Centre, the Left Centre, the Left, and the Extreme Left are names of differing factions which unite only for temporary purposes and to accomplish a victory over some other unit, but which are fatal to stable and firm government. The same is true of Italy, Spain, and Austria, and if not of Germany it is because military despotism holds all alike in subjection.

Mr. Bodley has come to the same conclusion in his work on "France." He writes:—

There is no restraining power in the French parliamentary system to arrest a member on his easy descent, and he knows that if he escapes penal condemnation he will enjoy relative impunity. Many deputies are men of high integrity; but virtue in a large assembly is of small force without organization, and, moreover, a group of legislators leagued together as a vigilance committee would have neither consistency nor durability, which the discipline of party can alone effect. Corruption of this kind, which has undermined the republic, could not co-exist with party government. A party whose ministers or supporters had incurred as much suspicion as fell on the politicians acquitted in the Panama affair would under it be swept out of existence for a period. When the first denunciations appeared, the leaders of the party, to avert that fate, would have said to their implicated colleagues—"In spite of your abilities and of the manifest exaggeration of these charges we must part company, for though you may have been culpable only of indiscretion, we cannot afford to be identified with doubtful transactions;" and the Opposition, eager not to lose its vantage, would scan with equal keenness the acts of its own members. With party government the electorate would not have appeared to condone those scandals. But as it was, when a deputy involved in them went down before his constituents, whose local interest he had well served, with no opponent more formidable than the nominee of some decayed or immature group, they gave their votes to the old member, whose influence with the prefecture in the past had benefited the district, rather than to the new comer, whose denunciations had no authority; whereas, had each electoral district been the scene of a contest between organized parties, the same spectacle would not have been presented." (Vol. ii., pp. 302, 303.)

Mr. Bodley has, in this last sentence, touched the heart of the problem. If the salvation of France depends on making each electoral district the scene of a contest between two organized parties, is not electoral machinery destined to play an important part in the solution?

The United States.—The third great experiment in representative democracy which the nineteenth century has furnished is that which is being conducted in the United States. The contrast with France is remarkable. Just as France is the supreme example of want of organization, so America is the most conspicuous instance of perfect organization into two great national parties which the world has seen. Yet both experiments were started by a revolution, and practically at the same time. The difference lay in the fact that the Americans inherited the capacity for self-government from their British ancestors, and had already practised it in colonial times, while the French only inherited innumerable causes of dissension.

But organization is not the only characteristic feature of American politics. Strange to say, it is accompanied by a suppression of individuality just as complete. It is organization without responsible leadership. For, in the first place, the politicians look on themselves not as leaders but as followers of the people; and in the second place, there are no leaders in Congress, corresponding to the cabinet ministers of British countries.

Now, the view which we wish to emphasize here is that the present position of American politics is the natural result of the principles embodied in the Constitution adopted in 1789, when the Union was formed. The complete organization and the want of leadership are directly to be traced to the labours of George Washington and his associates. A brief glance at the Constitution and the early history of its working will make this clear.

The thirteen States which revolted from England worked fairly well together under the "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" as long as the war lasted, but as soon as peace was proclaimed it was, as Washington said, no better than anarchy. The famous Convention of 1787 was therefore held, and the Constitution was drawn up. One guiding principle of its framers was to divide power so as to place checks on the will of the people, and on outbursts of popular passion, which were then greatly dreaded. One means of attaining this object was the attempted separation of the legislative and executive functions. We say attempted advisedly, for time has but shown that the two are inseparable. But the framers of the Constitution divided the legislative function between the two Houses, and vested the executive function almost entirely, as they thought, in the President. Montesquieu, in his "Esprit des Lois" had laid down that the great merit of the English Constitution was the separation of these functions, and the Americans accepted this view. But, in truth, the English cabinet system had not then been fully developed. The King was still, not only in appearance, but to some extent also in fact, the head of the executive, and there was nothing to indicate that ministers were so soon to become the real leaders.

The effect of this provision was a struggle between the two branches for supremacy, and the legislatures have won. The President has been degraded to a mere agent, and the legislatures have absorbed the greater part of executive functions, even to the control of finance. Now, the framers of the Constitution were apprehensive that the President might become a mere party agent, and they tried to strengthen his position by two devices. First, they gave him the power to veto statutes unless overruled by a two-thirds majority of Congress; and, secondly, they provided for his election by an electoral college, or by a double system of election. This second provision was designed to ensure the election of a President for personal instead of for party reasons; but it has proved a complete failure. Almost from the first the electoral delegates have had to pledge themselves to support the party nominee. The veto, therefore, has also become practically useless. Thus it has come about that Congress is a body entirely without leaders.

A second defect in the Constitution was that it said nothing about the right of any State to withdraw from the Union. After nearly 70 years this omission was responsible for the Civil War. The legal basis for secession was then abandoned, but combinations of States have since been regarded with the greatest apprehension. This conviction that the Union must be maintained at any price has had very important consequences on the party system. The danger of allowing combinations of States to dominate party lines was demonstrated; and the division of each State by the same national parties was recognized as essential to safety.

In the meantime, as we have seen, Congress had practically got control of the executive functions, which were supposed to be exercised by the President, including the nominations to office. Thus every member of the party in a majority had a share of the plunder, and "the spoils to the victors" became the basis of party organization. The system soon underwent such a remarkable development that nearly 200,000 public offices were at the disposal of the victors at each election. The party organizations immediately became omnipotent. The secret of their power lay in the control of nominations. Each party would nominate one candidate only, and the electors voted neither for men nor measures, but blindly for party. As Mr. Bryce declares:—"The class of professional politicians was therefore the first crop which the spoils system—the system of using public office as private prize of war—bore. Bosses were the second crop."

The development which these party organizations have now reached is extraordinary. Practically we may say that there are only two parties—Republicans and Democrats—and they dominate not only Federal and State politics but also city government. Each party has its list of registered electors, and each holds a primary election before the real election, to decide the party candidate. But these primary elections are a mere matter of form. Only a small fraction of the electors attend them, and only those who have always supported the party are allowed to vote. The nominations are therefore really controlled, by fraud if necessary, by the "ring" of party managers. Generally there is one man who can pull the most strings, and he becomes the "boss." All power is centred in the hands of this irresponsible despot. The men who are elected owe their positions to him, and are responsible to him, not to the public.

Remember that these "machine" organizations have absolute sway in every electorate, from one end of the United States to the other. It may be wondered why the people tolerate them, but they are powerless. Sometimes an independent movement is attempted, but it very rarely succeeds, and even when it does the two "machines" combine against it and agree to divide the spoils. Mr. Bryce writes:—

The disgust is less than a European expects, for it is mingled with amusement. The "boss" is a sort of joke, albeit an expensive joke. "After all," people say, "it is our own fault. If we all went to the primaries, or if we all voted an independent ticket, we could make an end of the 'boss.'" There is a sort of fatalism in their view of democracy. (Vol ii., p. 241.)

What is the meaning of all this wonderful party machinery? It is this: that organization without responsible leadership can only be founded on corruption. In other words, the spoils system is the price which the United States pay for maintaining the Union under the present Constitution. The fault lies ultimately, therefore, in the Constitution, which tends to repress responsible leadership.

Now, the mass of public opinion in America, as Mr. Bryce continually points out, is sound, and attempts have not been wanting to put an end to the system of rotation in public offices. A sustained agitation for civil service reform was entered upon, and the system of competitive examination was applied to a large number of offices. Now at last, the reformers thought, American politics would be purified. But, no! The corruption, simply took a new and more alarming turn. Direct money contributions took the place of the spoils. It became the practice to levy blackmail on corporations either to be let alone, or for the purpose of fleecing the public. The monopolies granted to protected industries are the source of a large share of these "campaign funds." The Legislatures are crowded by professional lobbyists, and it is, in consequence, impossible to obtain justice against the corporations. Surely no stronger proof can be needed that corruption is and must remain the basis of organization so long as there is no responsible leadership.

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that the Americans are not alive to the failure of their representative institutions. Since Mr. Bryce's great work on "The American Commonwealth" was published two books by American authors have appeared which are very outspoken in condemnation. These are "The Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy," by Mr. E.L. Godkin; and "The Lesson of Popular Government," by Mr. Gamaliel Bradford. The keynote of the first of these two books is to abolish corruption by destroying the power of the "machine" and the "boss," and of the second to introduce responsible leadership. Mr. Godkin traces the disappearance of distinguished men from public life to the control of all entrance to it by the "machine." The reform of primary elections, he holds, is then the first necessity, since "independent voting" has ceased to be a remedy. But he fails to find a solution. The conclusion he comes to is as follows:—

Is the situation then hopeless? Are we tied up inexorably simply to a choice of evils? I think not. It seems to me that the nomination of candidates is another of the problems of democracy which are never seriously attacked without prolonged perception and discussion of their importance. One of these was the formation of the federal government; another was the abolition of slavery; another was the reform of the civil service. Every one of them looked hopeless in the beginning; but the solution came in each case, through the popular determination to find some better way. (Pp. 92, 93.)

But the evil goes far deeper than Mr. Godkin appears to think. To abolish corruption is to take away the present basis of organization without substituting any other. If irresponsible leadership is to be abandoned, responsible leadership must be introduced. Mr. Bradford's plan, therefore, promises more, for if responsible leadership could be introduced into Congress corruption would then be abolished also.

Mr. Bradford's whole book may be said to be a study of the relations of the executive to the legislature, and the conclusions at which he arrives are a complete vindication of cabinet government. But he finds one fault, and that is the instability of ministries, which he confesses has not been apparent so far in the British House of Commons. He holds, however, that it will become more apparent with the rising tide of democracy. It is rather amusing to find that the greatest obstacle which has to be overcome in proposing a responsible executive is the veneration in which the Constitution is still held and the dislike to copying anything from England. His plan is, therefore, an adaptation of the cabinet to the conditions imposed by the Constitution. He holds that the ministers appointed by the President should sit in Congress and have control of the initiation of legislation. It is to be feared that this would hardly realize the idea of responsible leadership. Mr. Bradford establishes a chain of responsibility by the fact that the ministers are responsible to the President and the President is responsible to the people; but that is a very different thing to the continual responsibility of the cabinet to a majority of the legislature. It is probable that the President's ministers would have to encounter the opposition of a majority in one or both Houses, and it is difficult to see how a deadlock could be avoided. Mr. Bradford contemplates that the people would settle any issues which arise between the two branches at the end of the Presidential term of four years; but it is just as likely that there would then be a new President in any case. We are driven to the conclusion, therefore, that responsible leadership is incompatible with the American system of divided powers and fixed terms of office.

Mr. Bryce comments on the proposal as follows:—

It is hard to say, when one begins to make alterations in an old house, how far one will be led on in rebuilding, and I doubt whether this change in the present American system, possibly in itself desirable, might not be found to involve a reconstruction large enough to put a new face upon several parts of that system. (Vol. i, pp. 290, 291.)

This is very true, but is not a new building required? Is not the old house built on a rotten foundation? Mr. Bradford has certainly overlooked the effect of his proposal on party organization for one thing. If the power over legislation, and especially over expenditure of public money, is to be taken away from the irresponsible committees of Congress, the basis of party organization would cease to be corruption, and both representatives and parties would have to take on an entirely new character. As to the present character of representatives, Mr. Bryce advances a number of reasons why the best men do not go in for politics, such as the want of a social and commercial capital, the residential qualification, the comparative dullness of politics, the attractiveness of other careers, &c, but Mr. Bradford declares that the one explanation which goes further than all these is the absorption of all the powers of the government by the legislature, and the consequent suppression of individuality. He writes:—

The voters are urged to send to Congress men of character, ability, and public spirit. They might as well be asked to select men of that quality to follow the profession of burglars, a comparison which is not intended to convey any disrespect to the number of honest and respectable men who constantly are sent to Congress. Chosen as burglars, they would fail just the same in the business.... It is the organization of Congress which offers every facility to those who wish to buy and those who wish to be bought.

Again, as to the present character of parties, Mr. Bradford declares:—

The names of the two great parties, Republicans and Democrats, have in themselves and at the present time no meaning at all.

Simply because the basis of organization is corruption, and not questions of public policy. For the same reason recent elections have been fought on popular "crazes," such as the silver question. But Mr. Bradford says:—

New parties cannot be formed on constantly changing issues, since to have any strength they must have a certain degree of permanence. The only two nations which have succeeded in forming great national parties are Great Britain and the United States. In other European countries the splitting into groups has almost made representative government impossible.

What Mr. Bradford has failed to appreciate is that the absolutely rigid division into two camps which prevails in America is founded on corruption, and will disappear when corruption is abolished. In the United States such a thing as a Congressman deserting one party for the other is practically unknown. In Great Britain, on the contrary, party lines do continually change as new issues arise; and when they are founded on questions of public policy it must be so. What gives them permanence is that certain principles underlie most questions, and men who have the same political principles are likely to think the same on any single question; and further that a member would rather follow his party and sacrifice his opinion on a single question than sacrifice most of his principles.

Therefore, even if the Americans do succeed in purifying their politics, they will be faced with the same difficulty as exists elsewhere—namely, such improved organization as will secure the return of representatives on questions of general public policy only. The present system of single-membered electorates will not suffice. The only remedy lies in enlarged electorates with electoral machinery which will organize public opinion into two definite lines of policy, and will, by allowing individual candidature merge the primary election into the actual election.

All this involves a radical alteration, both in the Constitution and in the methods of election. But the United States have the great advantage over France that it does not involve also a serious change in the national character. It is not unlikely that some such reform must be brought about before long.

The present position cannot last. The Republican party has so long identified itself with Capital in all its forms, with the protected monopolists, the trusts and the corporations, that the mass of Labour threatens to support the Democrats; and as the latter party maintains the doctrines of direct government and the infallibility of the majority, the result will be such a financial crisis and such an industrial revolution that the Americans will have at last to admit that their government needs total reconstruction.

Australia.—On the first day of the nineteenth century the Union of the Parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland was accomplished; on the first day of the twentieth century Britain's daughters in the southern seas will inaugurate, under her aegis, a new experiment in democracy—the Australian Commonwealth. The time is opportune, then, for a review of the tendencies of Australian politics, and for a comparison with the other great democracies. Thus only can we attempt to cast the horoscope of the new nation.

Australia starts with many advantages over France and America. The science of government is better understood now than when they started; the folly of placing too many checks on the people is recognized; and the British system of responsible leadership by a cabinet in the legislature is fully developed. All these features are embodied in the Constitution, and it only remains for the people to prove their fitness to work it.

Applying the same tests as we have used in the case of the great democracies to the present position of Australian politics, what is the result? First, as regards organization, where do we stand? It must be confessed that we are far behind Great Britain and America, though certainly we are not in the same sad plight as France. Still there is the fact that we are classed among the failures. Take the evidence of Mr. E.L. Godkin in "Unforeseen Tendencies of Democracy:"—

In his Journals during a visit to Turin in 1850, Senior records a conversation with Cesare Balbo, a member of the Chamber in the first Piedmontese Parliament, in which Balbo said, after an exciting financial debate:—"We have not yet acquired parliamentary discipline. Most of the members are more anxious about their own crotchets or their own consistency than about the country. The ministry has a large nominal majority, but every member of it is ready to put them in a minority for any whim of his own." This was probably true of every legislative body on the Continent, and it continues true to this day in Italy, Greece, France, Austria, Germany, and the new Australian democracies. (Pp. 102, 103.)

He adduces in support of the statement the fact that the three colonies of New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria have had respectively twenty-eight, forty-two, and twenty-six ministries in forty years. Is the prospect any brighter for the new Commonwealth? It is to be feared not, if the present tendencies towards disintegration are allowed to grow. For in the last decade a change has come over Australian politics which portends the gravest danger. We refer to the direct class representation which, under the name of Labour parties, has spread all over the colonies. These so-called Labour "parties" are neither more nor less than class factions. Their policy is everywhere the same—viz., the use of the "balance system," which has proved so disastrous to France. The worst effect is that they prevent the main parties from working out definite policies on public questions, and cause them also to degenerate into factions. In Victoria we have actually had the ludicrous spectacle of the Opposition saving the Government time after time when deserted by its own followers. In New South Wales the individual member is sunk in the party; he must vote as the majority decides. Mr. Reid's term of office was ended by one such caucus. In Queensland, where the party is strongest, it has now practically become one of the main parties, and the whole colony is divided on class lines. Already an Intercolonial Labour Conference has been held, and a pledge drawn up which must be signed by all candidates for the party support at Federal elections. The danger of these tactics is not rightly apprehended in Australia. In reality they mark the first step towards social disruption. We may cite the authority of Mr. James Bryce on this point. After pointing out in "The American Commonwealth" that since the Civil War combinations of States have always acted through the national parties, he writes:—

This is an important security against disruption. And a similar security against the risk of civil strife or revolution is to be found in the fact that the parties are not based on or sensibly affected by differences either of wealth or of social position. Their cleavage is not horizontal, according to social strata, but vertical. This would be less true if it were stated either of the Northern States separately, or of the Southern States separately: it is true of the Union taken as a whole. It might cease to be true if the new Labour party were to grow till it absorbed or superseded either of the existing parties. The same feature has characterized English politics as compared with those of most European countries, and has been a main cause of the stability of the English government and of the good feeling between different classes in the community. (Vol. ii., p. 38.)

How is it that the public conscience is not alive to the enormity of this anti-social crime? Mainly, we think, because the true principles of representation are not properly understood. It is almost universally assumed that there is no real distinction between direct and representative government. Minorities are tacitly allowed to have as much right to representation as the minority, and the confusion of terms is passed over. The working classes are told by self-seeking demagogues that they are in a majority; that the majority is entitled to rule; and that they have only to organize to come into their heritage. These sycophants, who, as Aristotle of old pointed out, bear the greatest resemblance to the court favourite of the tyrant, ask the people to believe the silly paradox that the united wisdom of the whole people is greater than that of the wisest part. The truth is that no people is fit to exercise equal political rights which is not sensible enough to choose the wisest part to carry on the government, providing only they have control over their selection, and can hold them responsible. Are the working classes in Australia going to demonstrate that they are unfit for the exercise of political rights? Are they going to justify the prognostications of the opponents of popular government? That is the real question at issue. Unless public opinion be aroused to the iniquity of class delegation, the further degradation of Australian politics is inevitable. Let it not be thought that we are decrying the organization of the working classes for political purposes. On the contrary, we hold that the organization of every class and every interest is necessary in order that it shall exert its just share of influence. But the only way in which every class can get its just share is by acting through the two main parties. A class which holds aloof can exert for a short time an undue share of influence, as a faction holding the balance of power, but only at the expense of paralyzing the government.

But the working classes are hardly to be blamed in this matter, for it is a fact that before their action they were not able to exert their just share of influence. The government was such as to promote the rule of private interests instead of the general welfare, and, consequently, their interests were shamefully neglected. The real cause of the mischief was, as in America, the nominating system, which is inseparably connected with the present method of election. The consideration of this question brings us to the second characteristic of Australian politics—namely, the irresponsible leadership of the press.

We have seen how in America organization has been effected without responsible leadership in Congress, only at the expense of the irresponsible leadership of the "rings" and "bosses" who control the "machines." In Australia an analogous result has been brought about by different causes. We have not had civil strife to teach us the necessity of organization, nor have we a spoils system available as a basis, but the disorganized state of the legislatures and the consequent weakness of the executive have thrown a large share of leadership into the hands of the press. Both in America and in Australia the prevalence of the ultra-democratic theory that representatives should follow and not lead the people has been a powerful contributing cause. And yet it is as clear as possible that the choice lies between two alternatives. The people must either submit to responsible leadership in Parliament or to irresponsible leadership outside. The ultra-democrats hold that responsible leadership in Parliament is incompatible with popular government. We believe that this is the fundamental error which is leading both the Australian and the American democracies astray. On the contrary, it is the irresponsible despotism which is exercised by the "bosses" in America and the newspapers in Australia which is really incompatible with free government.

The source of the error lies in the failure to grasp the meaning of the term "responsible leadership." It is assumed that either the people must lead and the representatives follow, or the representatives must lead and the people follow. Bagehot may be taken as an exponent of the latter position. He thought that cabinet government was only possible with a deferential nation as opposed to a democratic nation. England he held to be the type of deferential nations, because the people were content to leave the government to the "great governing families"—i.e., to defer to caste, which is in principle the same as deferring to a king, who is supposed to rule by divine right. Mr. Bradford also gives a somewhat exaggerated idea of the importance of the force of personality when he declares that the mass of the people have no "views" on public questions; all they want is to be well governed. The late Professor Freeman Snow, of Harvard University, U.S., was a supporter of the ultra-democratic view. In the "Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science" for July, 1892, he declares:—

Mr. Bryce thinks that, "like other crowds, a legislature must be led and ruled." And he has formulated a theory which he believes to be "the essence of free or popular government, and the justification for vesting power in numbers." "Every question that arises in the conduct of government," he asserts, "is either a question of ends or a question of means." And as the "masses are better judges of what will conduce to their happiness than are the-classes placed above them, they must be allowed to determine ends." But, assuming the end to be given, they—the masses—should leave to their leaders—the trained statesmen—the choice of means. The defect in this theory is that it depends for its successful operation upon the continued "deference of the multitude for the classes placed above them ... upon the principle of noblesse oblige," a principle, by the way, derived from feudal monarchy, which has no existence in the United States, and which ought to be considered a misfortune in any free country....

Mr. Bryce has made a step in advance of Mr Bagehot in trusting the people to determine ends, whatever they may be; why not go one step further, and trust them to determine all questions of policy?

These are the two opposite points of view. They are both equally wrong. The first is simply irresponsible leadership, and the second amounts to the same thing in practice, however much the people may appear to lead in theory. The true position is that the relation between the representatives and the people is reciprocal. Both lead and both follow. The people defer to the representatives, not on account of rank or caste, nor upon the principle of noblesse oblige, but only in so far as the representatives are able to demonstrate their fitness to devise measures for the general welfare. The people, on the other hand, are the ultimate judges, both of measures and of men. This mutual action and reaction constitutes the responsible leadership, which is one of the fundamental principles underlying the device of representation. To it we have already traced the virtue of representation as a social force, capable of moulding national character and of appealing to the higher nature of the people.

An elector who is unable or unwilling to decide grave questions of public policy himself may be a very shrewd judge as to who is best fitted to decide them; and deference to ability is totally different in principle to deference to caste. In a country in the transitional stage between aristocracy and democracy, his judgment may be based partly on the principle of noblesse oblige; but there is not the slightest reason why in a democratic country he should require the representative to defer to him. He will merely require a higher standard and a closer and a more constant demonstration that the measures proposed are conducive to the public well-being. Moreover, it is still necessary that the representatives should be judged periodically on general lines of policy, and that the elector should not have the power of exercising control on single questions. Under these conditions the result of the mutual relation will be an improvement on both sides. But if, under the influence of irresponsible leadership outside Parliament, the people insist on increasing control over their representatives, then not only is Parliament degraded, but progress towards government in the general welfare is stopped.

This long digression as to the real meaning of responsible leadership is necessary in order to gauge the drift of the prevailing tendency towards the irresponsible leadership of the press in Australia. The evil exists in all the colonies, but it is perhaps worse in our own colony of Victoria than in any other country in the world, although it is said to be very bad in Switzerland since the referendum was introduced. We have two morning newspapers in Melbourne, which take opposite sides on nearly every question which arises. They admit into their columns no facts and no arguments which tell against the position they have taken up; nay, more, they resort to downright misrepresentation to support it. It will be said that this is only a form of the party game, but the danger lies in the fact that they circulate in different classes, and therefore these classes see only one side of every question. Moreover, in their competition for the support of classes in which they desire to increase their circulation they use their influence to secure legislation which will appeal to class prejudices, or even undertake a prolonged agitation to relieve special interests from legitimate charges. The Age has for a long time thrived by pandering to the prejudices of the working classes, and especially of the artisans; the Argus now seeks to get even by creating dissension between town and country.

All this interference with the functions of Parliament has a baneful influence on the working of the political machine. The party lines are practically decided by the newspaper contest. We have spoken of the resemblance to the "machine" control over American politics. One of the newspapers is, in effect, managed by a "ring," the other by a "boss." The despotism of David Syme in Melbourne is as unquestioned as that of Richard Croker in New York, or Matthew Quay in Pennsylvania. How close the analogy is may be inferred from the fact that Mr. Syme has exercised, and still claims the right to exercise, control over nominations to Parliament. It is notorious that the ten delegates who "represented" Victoria at the Federation Convention were elected on the Age "ticket." Again, Mr. Syme is known as "the father of protection," and has been able, by the force of his indomitable will, to impose on the colony a tariff which can be compared only to the M'Kinley tariff in America, thus showing that irresponsible leadership in either form is more favourable to the rule of private interests than to the general welfare.

We have said enough to show that in internal affairs the influence of the press, when it directly interferes with Parliament is an anti-social force. In matters of foreign policy the case is still worse. The press is almost universally jingoistic, because it is financially interested in sensationalism. A war generally means a fortune to newspaper proprietors. In such matters, therefore, responsible leadership by Parliament is still more urgently required.

We now come to the claim of those ultra-democrats who preach the poisonous doctrines of direct government and of unrestrained majority rule, that responsible leadership is incompatible with popular government. This claim, is of course, supported by the radical press in Australia. We have already quoted from Mr. Syme's work on "Representative Government in England" the extreme views in which he confuses representation with delegation. "Popular government," he declares, "can only exist where the people can exercise control over their representatives at all times and under all circumstances." The method proposed to obtain this control is to give a majority of the constituents power to dismiss a representative at any time, and is utterly impracticable. Imagine the position of a member elected by a majority of one or two votes! The true way to prevent members abusing their trust is not to increase the direct control of the people, but to prevent the control of the press and all other irresponsible agencies over them; and so to ensure the return of better men.

Perhaps the most striking anomaly in Mr. Syme's position is that, while he would confine the office of Parliament to expressing public opinion, he declares in the same work that "the press at once forms and expresses public opinion."[2] Now, it is quite true that if Parliament is weak and disorganized, or occupies itself in fighting for the spoils of office, the power of forming public opinion is thrown into the hands of the press. But the more power is seized by the press, the more Parliament is degraded, and the less is the chance of recovery. The situation presents little difficulty to Mr. Syme. Every newspaper reader, he declares, "becomes, as it were, a member of that vast assembly, which may be said to embrace the whole nation, so widely are newspapers now read. Had we only the machinery for recording the votes of that assembly, we might easily dispense with Parliament altogether."

These ideas are not of mere academic interest; they have dominated the trend of Victorian politics for many years. The time has now arrived for the people to consider whether it is better to keep a Parliament of weak delegates to express the public opinion which is formed by the press than to elect a Parliament of "leaders of the people," highly-trained legists, economists, and sociologists, to form and direct the public opinion which is expressed by the newspapers. Why should the principle of leadership, as exemplified in Mr. Syme's own career, be given full scope in the press, and entirely repressed in Parliament? As to the kind of influence we mean, no better description could be given than that of the well-known Labour leader, Mr. H.H. Champion. In an open letter to Mr. David Syme in the Champion of 22nd June, 1895, he wrote:—

Yet, if you rose to-morrow morning with the resolve to dismiss the ministry or to reverse the policy of the country, to stop retrenchment or to recommence borrowing, that resolve would infallibly translate itself into fact in a few weeks.

In no country that I know of has any organ in the press so much influence as your paper. It is practically the sole source of information for the majority of the people. It has no competitors. It can make any person or policy popular or unpopular. It can fail to report any man or thing, and for four-fifths of the citizens it is as though that man or thing were not. It can misrepresent any speech or movement, and the printed lie alone will reach the electors. It could teach the people anything you choose. It has ruled the country for a couple of decades. It rules the country to-day.

Professor Jethro Brown shows himself alive to the danger of press domination in Australia. In "The New Democracy" he writes:—"The prestige of Parliament is destroyed when its deliberations and conclusions cease to be the determining factor in legislation. The transfer of the real responsibility for legislation to a new power implies the discrediting of the old school for training leaders." And he quotes with approval the expression of opinion by the Honourable B.R. Wise in the Federal Convention:—

There may be, as Mr. David Syme suggests, no risk involved in the change of masters; but for my part I would sooner trust the destinies of the country to the worst Parliament the people of Australia would elect than to the best newspaper the mind of man has ever imagined.

It is little use, therefore, for the press to further degrade Parliament in the eyes of the people by railing at it in the following terms:—

So it is that Parliament as a working machine is about the clumsiest and least effective that can be conceived of. All our Parliaments are modelled on the necessities of bygone centuries. We want a working Parliament improved up to date; but we lack political invention, and have to jog along with the old lumbering machine—a sort of bullock dray trying to compete with an age of electric railways and motor cars.[3]

The remedy lies with the press itself. Let it abandon all illegitimate influence, and use its power in a legitimate direction to give effect to the principles of organization and responsible leadership in Parliament. But just as the Labour faction cannot altogether be blamed for the present disintegration of Parliament, so the press cannot be held responsible for its degradation. In both eases cause and effect have been interrelated. The mistake which the press has made has been in not perceiving that the more it interferes with the legitimate functions of Parliament, even although with the best intentions, the more it degrades Parliament.

We have now passed in review the two great dangers which assail the Commonwealth at the inception of federation. We have shown how intimately related they are to the two great principles underlying representative government—organization and leadership. Nay, we have seen that all the varied phenomena presented by the great democracies of the world can be expressed in terms of the same two principles.

It remains to show that to give effect to the expression of these two principles in a more perfect manner than ever yet attained is a problem of electoral machinery. This task we shall now undertake.

FOOTNOTES:

[2] "Representative Government in England," p. 123.

[3] Age, 28th June, 1900.



CHAPTER IV.

THE REFORM: TRUE PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION.

How to give effect to the principles of organization and leadership in an electoral reform—that is the problem which we shall now attempt to solve. We have already laid down the theoretical requirements, which are (1) proportional representation to the two parties—the majority and the minority, and (2) the election by each party separately of its most popular leaders; and we shall now have to consider also how these requirements are modified by practical considerations.

Proportional Representation to the Two Parties, the Majority and the Minority.—It will be as well to illustrate the method proposed by reference to the conditions imposed by an actual election, such as that for the Federal Senate. The Commonwealth Bill provides that each State shall be polled as a single electorate, returning six senators. Suppose that 120,000 electors vote on party lines in any State. It is clear that a party which has the support of 20,000 electors is entitled to one senator; also, that a party which has the support of 40,000 electors is entitled to two senators; of 60,000 electors to three senators, and so on. Now, suppose that one party has the support of 50,000 electors, and the other of 70,000 electors, then the minority is entitled to two and a half senators, and the majority to three and a half senators. But senators are living units, and cannot be divided into fractions. The question therefore arises, Which is entitled to the odd senator, the majority or the minority? And the answer is that they are both equally entitled to him; for it is as much a tie as if each party has the support of 10,000 electors in a single-seat electorate. But if the minority had the support of 49,999 electors, or one elector less, it would be entitled to only two senators, and if it had the support of 50,001 electors, or one elector more, it would be entitled to three senators.

From the above simple facts can be deduced general rules applicable to any particular case. It is evident that the result is not affected by the number of votes allowed to each elector, providing only that each elector has the same number of votes. It is also quite irrespective of the number of candidates nominated in the interests of each party. But it would never do to allow party organizations to control nominations. How are we to combine individual candidature with party nomination? The only way to do this is to require that each candidate shall declare, either when nominating or a few days before the election, on which side of the House he intends to sit, and be classified accordingly as Ministerialist or Oppositionist. To decide the relative strengths of the two parties, it is then only necessary to take the aggregate votes polled by all the candidates nominated for each party as a measure of the amount of support which it receives.

The great advantages of this provision are at once apparent. There is no incentive to limit the number of candidates so as to prevent splitting the votes. On the contrary, it is to the interest of each party to get as many strong candidates as possible to stand in its interests. There will be no necessity to ask any candidate to retire for fear of losing a seat to the party. Thus the control of nominations, which leads to the worst abuses of the present system, will be entirely obviated.

Now, suppose that in the instance we have already given each elector is allowed to vote for one candidate only, the total number of votes recorded will be 120,000. Then the unit of representation or number of votes which entitle a party to one senator will be 20,000 votes; each party will be entitled to one senator for every whole unit of representation, and the odd senator will go to the party having the larger remainder. For instance, if the aggregate votes polled by all the Ministerialist candidates be 72,000, and by the Oppositionist candidates 48,000, the Ministerialists, having three units plus 12,000 remainder, are entitled to four senators, and the Opposition, having two units plus 8,000, to two senators.

Similarly, if each elector be allowed to vote for a number of candidates, all these figures will be increased in proportion. For example, if each elector has three votes, the unit of representation would be 60,000 votes. The following general rules may therefore be stated:—

1. The unit of representation is equal to the total number of valid votes cast at the election, divided by the number of seats.

2. Each party is entitled to one seat for every whole unit of representation contained in the aggregate votes polled by all its candidates, and the odd seat goes to the party which has the larger remainder.

The fact that the last seat has to be assigned to the party which has the larger remainder is sometimes advanced as an objection, but it is evidently the fairest possible division that the size of the electorate will permit. Of course, the larger the electorate the more accurately proportioned will be the representation. Hence the representation would be most accurate if the whole assembly were elected in one large electorate. But if, for the sake of convenience, the assembly be elected in a large number of electorates in which the relative proportions of two parties vary the gains which a party makes in some electorates will be balanced by losses in others, so that the final result would be almost as accurate as if the whole country were polled as one electorate. It must be remembered that the result in any electorate cannot be foreseen, and that it is a matter of chance which party gains the advantage. Now, if the limits of variation comprise even a single unit of representation, each party will stand an equal chance of gaining, and therefore the laws of chance will ensure that the gains balance the losses in the different electorates. Supposing a party which averages 40 per cent. in the whole country to vary between 30 per cent. and 50 per cent, in the different electorates (which may be taken as a fair assumption), the unit of representation should equal 20 per cent., or one-fifth. Under these conditions the laws of chance will ensure correct representation, so long as the electorates do not contain less than five seats.

The above facts furnish a complete answer to the arguments advanced by Mr. J.W. M'Cay, ex-M.L.A., in a series of articles in the Age against the application of proportional representation to the Federal Senate. While apparently recognizing that it is utterly impossible for the minority to secure a majority of the representation, he based his objection solely on the fact that a minority is able with electorates containing an even number of seats to secure one-half of the representation, and thus lead to what he terms "the minority block."

The force of the objection will entirely depend on the size of the minority which is able thus to thwart the will of the majority. The Federal Senate will consist of 36 senators, each of the original States contributing six. No reasonable man would complain if the minority, being only entitled to 17 senators, actually returned 18, but Mr. M'Cay points out that it is possible for a minority entitled to 15 senators to return 18. To bring about this result he makes the absurd assumption that in each of the six States the minority polls exactly two whole units of representation, and a bare majority of a third unit. It is safe to say that this would not happen once in a thousand years. If the relative proportions of the two parties vary in the slightest in the different States some must be under and some over the assumed proportion. It is most probable that it will be under it in three States and over it in the other three States; and, under these circumstances, the party will return 15 senators, the exact number to which it is entitled. It may happen to be under the assumed proportion in only two of the States and over in the other four, and that the party will get one more senator than it is entitled to; but it is extremely improbable that it will get two more, and virtually impossible that it will get three more senators than its just proportion. Mr. M'Cay's conclusion that proportional representation can only be used in electorates returning an odd number of representatives is shown to be entirely unwarranted. Equally fallacious is Professor Nanson's rebutting statement that "scientific proportionalists recommend odd electorates." While the number of States remains even, the mathematical chance of a minority securing one-half of the representation is precisely the same whether the States return an odd or an even number of senators. As a matter of fact, the danger of a minority securing one-half of the representation is much greater at the intermediate elections for the Senate, when each State returns three senators, the reason being the smaller field.

We have dwelt at some length on the preceding example, because it serves to refute another error into which some of the proportionalists have fallen. It is held that the unit of representation should be ascertained by dividing the total votes, not by the number of seats, but by the seats increased by one. This unit is generally known as the Droop quota, having been proposed in a work published by Mr. H.R. Droop in 1869. Since one vote more than one-half of the total votes is sufficient for election in a single-seat electorate, it is argued that one vote more than one-third suffices in a two-seat electorate, one vote more than one-fourth in a three-seat electorate, and so on. The unit in a six-seat electorate would be one-seventh of the votes instead of one-sixth, and it is pointed out that by this means the whole six seats would be filled by whole units, leaving an unrepresented residuum of one-seventh of the votes divided between the two parties.

The error lies precisely as before in concentrating attention on one of the electorates, and in neglecting the theory of probability. The Droop quota introduces the condition that each party must pay a certain minimum number of votes for each seat, and the real distinction is that, instead of the minority and the majority having an equal chance of securing any advantage, the chances are in the same proportion as their relative strengths. If the majority be twice as strong as the minority, it will have twice the chance of gaining the advantage. To prove this, consider the position of a one-third minority in a number of five-seat electorates. The Droop quota being one-sixth of the votes, the minority will secure two seats or 40 per cent. in those electorates where it is just over one-third, and one seat or 20 per cent. where it is just under. Since the mathematical chances are that it will be over in one half and under in the other half, it will, on the average, secure only 30 per cent., although entitled to 33 per cent. Again, if the 670 members of the House of Commons were elected in three to five-seat electorates, and the Droop quota used as proposed by Sir John Lubbock, and if the Ministerialists were twice as strong as the Oppositionists, they would, on the average, return 30 more members than the two-thirds to which they are entitled, and this would count 60 members on a division.

The following table illustrates the erroneous result obtained by applying the Droop quota when a number of grouped-electorates are concerned. It will be noticed that where parties are nearly equal it makes very little difference which unit is used:—

- + STRENGTH OF AVERAGE REPRESENTATION. + - PARTY Five-Seat Electorates. Ten-Seat Electorates. - - 10 per cent. 2 per cent. 6 per cent. 20 " " 14 " " 17 " " 30 " " 26 " " 28 " " 40 " " 38 " " 39 " " 50 " " 50 " " 50 " " - -

The Droop quota, therefore, gives, not proportional, but disproportional representation.

Election by Each Party of its Most Popular Candidates.—Still keeping in mind the six-seat electorate for the Federal Senate, we may note that there are two rival systems in the field—the scrutin de liste or Block Vote, in which each elector votes for any six of the candidates, and the Hare system, which allows each elector an effective vote for one candidate only. The adoption of either of these systems would be unfortunate. To force each elector to vote for six candidates is probably to require him to vote for more than he is inclined to support, and certainly for more than his party is entitled to return; and, also, to put it in the power of the majority to return all six senators. To allow him to vote for one candidate only, on the other hand, is to break up both parties into factions by allowing the favourites of sections within the parties to be elected, instead of those most in general favour with all sections composing each party. An intermediate position is therefore best. No elector should be required to vote for more than three candidates, and no elector should be allowed to vote for less. Because in the first place it is evident that each party will, on the average, return three senators, and, secondly, it may be taken for granted that even the minority will nominate at least three candidates. Two alternative proposals may be submitted as fulfilling these conditions:—

_1. Each elector should vote for any three candidates, or

2. Each elector should have six votes, and have the option of giving two votes to individual candidates._

The first plan is the simpler, but the second is probably the better, as it allows more discrimination without sacrificing any of the advantages. Either proposal is practically equivalent to applying the Block Vote to each party separately; and whatever may be the objections to applying the Block Vote to two or more parties it is the simplest and best system to elect the candidates most in general favour when one party only is concerned. It is true that the majority will return rather more than one-half of the representatives and the minority rather less than one-half, so that the minority will have more votes in proportion to its strength. But with two parties of fairly equal but fluctuating strength the fairest way is to require each elector to vote for at least one-half of the number of representatives. Besides, apart from the fact that it is not known before the election how many seats each party will obtain, it is absolutely necessary that each elector shall have the same number of votes in order that each party be allotted its just share of representation. Moreover it is not proposed to limit the elector's freedom of choice in the slightest by confining him to the candidates of one party. The great majority of electors will vote on party lines, because every vote given to a candidate of the opposing party tells against the representation of their own party. The reason of this is that every vote counts individually for the candidate and collectively for the whole party. Any elector, therefore, who divides his voting power equally between the two parties practically wastes it as far as the party representation is concerned. But it is neither necessary nor desirable to bring about such a rigid party division as prevails in America, for instance, where a man is born, lives, and dies Republican or Democrat. If electors were confined to the candidates of one party, an elector who wished to vote for an individual candidate of the opposing party would be placed in the dilemma of deserting either his favourite or his party. The division into parties is really required in the elected body, and not in the constituent body.

Rules for the Reform.—We are now in a position to draw up a list of rules for the proposed reform, applicable to all legislatures in which party government prevails:—

1. Electorates to be grouped so as to contain at least three seats, and preferably not less than five seats nor more than twenty seats.

2. Candidates to declare when nominating, or a few days before the election, whether they are in favour of or opposed to the party in power, and to be classified accordingly as Ministerialists or Oppositionists.

3. Ballot papers to contain the names of all candidates nominated, arranged in two parallel columns, one headed Ministerialists, and the other Oppositionists. The list of candidates under each heading to be arranged in alphabetical order.

4. Each elector to have as many votes as there are seats, and to be allowed to give either one or two votes to any candidate. The votes to be distributed as he pleases among all the candidates of both lists.

5. The total number of valid votes cast at the election to be divided by the number of seats; the quotient to be known as the "unit of representation."

6. Each party to be allowed one seat for every whole unit of representation contained in the aggregate votes polled by all its candidates, and the last seat to go to the party which has the larger remainder.

7. The candidates of each party having the highest number of votes to be declared elected to the number of seats to which each party is entitled in accordance with the preceding rule.

8. In case of a tie between candidates or parties the lot decides.

The alternative plan for rule 4, which is somewhat simpler, would read as follows:—

4. Each elector to vote for half the number of candidates that there are seats, i.e., three votes in a five or six-seat electorate, four votes in a seven or eight-seat electorate, &c. The votes to be distributed as he pleases among all the candidates of both lists.

It is unnecessary to dwell on the absolute simplicity of these rules. They involve no radical departure from existing methods of voting or of counting votes. Once the totals are added up, the calculations necessary to decide the successful candidates are within the reach of a school child.

EXAMPLE.—Take as an example 13 candidates in a six-seat electorate who poll as follows:—

MINISTERIALISTS. OPPOSITIONISTS. BROWN 83,000 YOUNG 53,000 RYAN 74,000 BELL 51,000 COX 44,000 HUME 47,000 WHITE 42,000 JONES 45,000 PEEL 38,000 BLACK 34,000 ADAMS 35,000 ———- GREY 33,000 230,000 SWIFT 21,000 ———- 370,000

Total votes = 370,000 + 230,000 = 600,000.

Unit of representation = 600,000/6 = 100,000.

Ministerialists: 3 units + 70,000 remainder = 4 seats.

Oppositionists: 2 units + 30,000 remainder = 2 seats.

The Ministerialists, having the larger remainder, secure the last seat. The successful candidates are Brown, Ryan, Cox, and White (M.), Young and Bell (O.)

It will be noted that without the proportional principle the Ministerialists would have returned two members only, and the Oppositionists four.

It is to be distinctly understood that the simpler plan of voting for half the number of candidates that there are seats is practically as good as the other. In order to show, however, that the plan we have favoured may be simplified, we illustrate by a sample ballot paper a method which has been used in Belgium. Two white spots are printed opposite each candidate's name. An ink pad and stamp are then provided at each polling booth, and the elector stamps out a white spot for each vote he wishes to give. In the paper illustrated two votes are given to Brown, two to Jones, one to Grey, and one to Swift. This elector has, therefore, given two-thirds of his voting power to the Ministerial party, and one-third to the Opposition, and has thus directly influenced both policies. A further advantage of the proposal is the ease with which such a paper can be read by the returning officer.

BALLOT PAPER

* * * * *

Ministerialists. Oppositionists.

+ -+ + -+ o o ADAMS o o BELL + -+ + -+ x x BROWN o o BLACK + -+ -+ + -+ o o COX o o HUME + -+ -+ + -+ o x GREY x x JONES + -+ -+ + -+ o o PEEL o o YOUNG + -+ -+ + -+ o o RYAN + -+ -+ x o SWIFT + -+ -+ o o WHITE + -+ -+

1. You are allowed Six votes, and can give either one or two votes to any candidate on either list.

2. Stamp out one of the white spots if you wish to give a candidate one vote.

3. Stamp out the two white spots if you wish to give a candidate two votes.

4. Your ballot paper will be invalid if you stamp out more or less than Six white spots.

Character of Parties.—We must now prove that the methods proposed will actually organize the people into two coherent parties. Let us suppose either party to be composed of three sections. The problem is to induce these three sections to work together, and to sink their petty differences in the general interest, in short to unite as a party, aiming at the control of administration with a definite policy on public questions. Let us further suppose the party entitled to three representatives. Now, it is quite conceivable that exactly the same three candidates would be elected if each elector had any number of votes from one to three, and this would actually tend to be the case the more united the party is. But herein lies the difference: that with one vote only any one section holding narrow and violent views can return an independent delegate, and therefore has a direct inducement to do so, while with three votes it is forced to work with the other two sections, for if it refuses to do so it is in their power to exclude its nominee. It is this power to exclude independent factions which is the first requisite to prevent the main parties degenerating into factions. Now, the advocates of the Hare system declare that each elector should have one effective vote only, no matter how many seats the party is entitled to. The elector would therefore only express his opinion as to the delegate of his own section, and not as to the constitution of the whole party, and there would be nothing whatever to prevent the election of the favourites of sections, instead of the representatives most in general favour with all sections.

But if there were only one party it would be impossible to make all the sections work together in this manner. Some of them would combine into a majority of the party, and would exclude the minority. With two great competing parties, however, the case is quite different. So far from either party wishing to exclude any small minority, both will compete for its support, providing only that it will fall into line with the other sections on the main questions of policy. Each section will therefore support the party which will consent to embody the most favourable compromise of its demands in its policy. If its demands are such that both parties refuse to entertain them, it will exercise no influence in the direction of furthering its own views. From this statement it is evident that no system of independent direct proportional representation within the party can be recognized as a right to which the different sections are entitled, as it would inevitably break up the party, and lead to sectional delegation. The sections would then change in character, and become violent factions. But, nevertheless, if the sections work together as described, every section will be proportionately represented in the party policy, and therefore by every representative of the party. Moreover, no section can dictate to either party, or obtain more than a fair compromise. For all the sections are interdependent, and any section which attempts to exert more than its just share of influence will sink in general favour, and will find those who are inclined to support its pretensions rejected at the election.

The difference between the two stages of representation may now be clearly appreciated. In the first stage we have seen that the fear of the aggression of the monarchy held all sections together in one party. In the second stage, however, it has been abundantly demonstrated by experience that the fear of each other will not hold the sections of the two parties together. The electoral machinery must, therefore, supply the deficiency.

Party Lines.—With the altered character of parties there is ground for hope that the basis of division will become questions of general public policy, and that all causes of factious dissension and of social disruption will tend to be repressed. This improvement is indeed urgently needed. For if in any country party lines are decided by geographical considerations, as town v. country; by class, as Capital v. Labour; by race as in South Africa; by religion as in Belgium; or by personal ambition for the spoils of office—in any of these cases the future of that country is open to the gravest doubt.

Perhaps the greatest danger which assails most democratic countries to-day is the risk of the working classes being persuaded by demagogues that equal political rights have been extended to them in order that they shall govern, instead of in order that they shall not be misgoverned. If the general welfare is to be advanced, all classes must influence the policies of both parties. This condition is indispensable to bring about the ideal condition of two parties differing only as to what is best for all.

Equally to be condemned is the narrow-minded and intolerant view of those who can see no virtue in an opposing party; who define, for instance, the distinction between parties as the party for things as they are, and the party for things as they ought to be; the latter being, of course, their own party. This is one of the objectionable features of Australian newspaper-made politics.

A more rational view of the distinction which often underlies party divisions is between those who desire change and those who oppose change. J.S. Mill points out how the latter may often be useful in preventing progress in a wrong direction. There are times when such attitude is called for, but generally speaking we may say that the fundamental distinction between parties should be a difference of opinion as to the direction of progress. Nor is it inconsistent for a party to change its opinion or alter its policy; on the contrary, it is essential to progress. The majority must often modify its policy in the light of the criticism of the minority, and the minority must often drop the unpopular proposals which have put it in a minority. These features are all essential to the working of the political machine.

The Character of Representatives.—Granting that all sections of each party can be induced to work together, the beneficial effect on the character of representatives would be incalculable. Instead of being forced to pander to every small section for support, they would appeal to all sections. The enlarged electorates which are contemplated would be arranged to embrace the widest diversity of interest, and a representative would then be free to follow his own independent judgment, unfettered by the dictation of small cliques. His actions might offend some sections who supported his election; but he has a wide field, and may gain the support of other sections by them. Therefore, he may actually improve his position by gaining more supporters than he loses. Contrast this with the present system, in which the representatives are cooped up in single-membered electorates to denned sets of supporters. The very principle of community of interest on which these electorates must be arranged in order to get a fair result is destructive of the idea of representation. It is no wonder, then, that the present system is tending towards delegation. Local delegation we have always had, more or less, but we are now threatened by class delegation also.

The conclusion of Mr. Kent in "The English Radicals" may be quoted on this point. He says:—

The question of the relationship of members to their constituents is at the present time perplexed and undetermined; for though the control of Parliament by the people is an indisputable fact, yet it is maintained by means of quite another kind from those which the early Radicals proposed. The result is somewhat paradoxical, for while the system of pledges has been contemptuously rejected, yet the theory that a member is a delegate tacitly prevails in English politics. That members of the House of Commons have tended and do tend to lose their independence it is impossible to doubt. A distinguished French publicist, M. Boutmy, for instance, has remarked the fact; and he thinks that in consequence a deterioration of the tone of politicians is likely to recur. Mr. E.L. Godkin, an American writer, whose judgments are entitled to respect, has expressed much the same opinion; "the delegate theory," he says, "has been gaining ground in England, and in America has almost completely succeeded in asserting its sway, so that we have seen many cases in which members of Congress have openly declared their dissent from the measures for which they voted in obedience to their constituents."

It is one of the greatest merits of the proposed reform that this vexed question of representation or delegation would be definitely settled. For, although the area of independent action is enlarged, definite limits are set to it.

Possible Objections.—We may now reply to some objections which have been or might be urged. At the outset we would point out that the critics nearly always base their objections on the conditions which have prevailed in the past or do exist in the present chaotic state of parties; and seldom appreciate the fact that they would lose force if a better condition could be brought about. Let us take the Melbourne Argus report of Professor Nanson's objections:—

Professor Nanson pointed out that the scheme depended for its efficacy on the existence of party government, which the Professor was glad to say was being pushed more and more into the background. He took a practical illustration from the defeat of the O'Loghlen Government in 1883. In that case, after the election the Government came back with a following of one-tenth. The other combined party had nine-tenths, and of these a little more than half were Liberals and a little less than half were Conservatives. He pointed out that under Mr. Ashworth's system the Liberals would have got the whole of the Opposition seats and the Conservatives none, whereas under any intelligent modification of the Hare system the parties would have been returned in the proportion of five Liberals, four Conservatives, and one O'Loghlenite. The system contained the evils of the scrutin de liste doubled by being applied to two parties, the evils of the Limited Vote, which had been condemned by all leading statesmen, and it played into the hands of these who were best able to organize.

Take the latter statements first. The evil of the Block Vote or scrutin de liste is that it gives all the representation to the majority, and excludes the minority; its merit is that it prevents the formation of a number of minorities. How this evil will be doubled if it is entirely removed by allowing both majority and minority their just share of representation we leave the Professor to explain. The statement that the scheme would play into the hands of those who are best able to organize is absolutely without foundation. On the contrary, the organization is automatic. It would certainly encourage the formation of organizations to influence the policies of the parties, since every organization would be able to exert its proportionate influence, but that is an advantage, not an evil. We will leave the statement about party government alone, and now take the "practical illustration." The Professor here assumes three distinct parties, but it is quite evident there are only two. It is not usual for Liberal Unionists and Conservatives to fight one another at elections in Great Britain at present. In the same way, if a section of Liberals and a section of Conservatives unite to oppose a Government, they will work together and not try to exclude one another. Moreover, they will have a common policy, so that it matters little who are elected so long as they are the best men to carry out the policy. Is it likely the Conservatives would join the Liberals, if the latter were trying to get all the seats? Thus all the Professor's assumptions are incorrect. But even if they were correct the conclusion is still wrong. The Liberal section could not get all the seats if they tried. Imagine a ten-seat electorate, in which the combined party is entitled to nine members. The electors would not be required to vote for more than five candidates, whereas the Professor has assumed that they would be forced to vote for nine. He has forgotten that the Block Vote becomes the Limited Vote under the conditions named, and that the Limited Vote allows the minority a share of representation. Besides, in any case, these conditions would never arise in a country in a healthy state of political activity, because then parties would tend more nearly to equalize each other in strength.

It has also been objected that a Ministerialist candidate, say, might stand as an Oppositionist, if the votes of the Opposition candidates were more split up and it was likely to require less votes for election in that party. This is a rather fantastic suggestion. The candidate in question would have to declare himself in favour of a number of things which he would oppose immediately he was elected. If not, he would have to openly declare his intention, but that could easily be made illegal. In any case there would be very little gained, and there is further the risk that, if defeated, all his votes would count to the Opposition.

Another possible objection is that too many candidates might stand, since it is to the interest of each party to get all the support it can. But candidates are not likely to stand to oblige the party or when there is no chance of being elected. It is quite possible that, in a country already split up into numerous groups, the groups would refuse to act together, and that each group would nominate its own list. This is an extreme assumption, and certainly would not happen in British countries. And there would be a constant incentive to the groups to compromise, since a combination can return its candidates.

We hope now to have at least established the fact that the organization of a democracy into two coherent parties—a majority and a minority—is vitally connected with the electoral machinery. We do not claim that the method we have proposed will induce a people to vote on true party lines all at once, for human nature cannot be changed in a day; but we do confidently assert that it will greatly accelerate that desirable result, and will tend to give effect to the principles of organization and responsible leadership.



CHAPTER V.

HOW THE EVILS OF THE PRESENT SYSTEM WILL BE REMEDIED.

From the inception of the representative system it has been usual to elect representatives in small districts, returning only one or two members, and the single-membered electorate is now almost universal. In the early Parliaments, however, elections were not contested as they are nowadays. It was merely a choice of the most suitable men to represent a corporate local community. Hence an indirect method of election was generally resorted to, the final choice being left to a small committee of the most important men. With the gradual rise of the party system the conditions entirely changed; and it is important to gain a clear idea of what is involved in the change.

In the first stage we have referred to it is not probable that there were any candidates at all. The position of member of Parliament was not sought after; it was rather thrust upon the man selected as a duty he owed the community. The choice would usually be unanimous, since there would be some men whose recognized influence and attainments would mark them off as most fitted for the position. If there was any difference of opinion it would be merely as to who was best fitted to represent all, and therefore there would never be any excluded minority.

The essential difference in the second stage is that every election is contested by two organized parties. The choice is now not of men only, but of measures and of men as well. It is a contest in the first place within each party as to who is best fitted to represent the party, and in the second place between the two parties for the support of the people. The party in a majority secures all the representation; the party in a minority none. Now, the minority is certainly not represented by the choice of the majority; on the contrary, its views are exactly the opposite. Hence the question arises: Is not this exclusion of the minority an injustice? Does it not amount to disfranchisement? The usual reply is either that the majority must rule or that the injustice done in some electorates is balanced in others, so that in the long run rough justice is obtained.

As to the first contention, it is the party which has the support of a majority of the whole people which should rule; and the excluded minority in some of the electorates belongs to this party. The second practically amounts to the statement that two wrongs make a right.

A practice prevails in the United States which will illustrate the position. Each State sends a number of representatives to Congress proportional to its population, and the division into electorates is left to the State. By manipulating the electoral boundaries the party which has a majority in each State is enabled to arrange that the injustice done to itself is a minimum, and that the injustice done to the opposing party is a maximum. By this iniquitous practice, which is known as the gerrymander, the party in a minority in each State is allowed to get only about one-half or one-quarter of its proper share of representation. But as the practice is universal in all the States, the injustice done to a party in some States is balanced in others. Will those who seek to excuse the injustice done to the minority in each electorate by the present system of election seriously contend that the same argument justifies the gerrymander?

The truth is that the present system has survived the passage from the first stage of representation into the second, not because it does justice to both parties, but because it has operated largely to prevent the formation of more than two parties. It has, therefore, been a means of giving effect to the central feature of representation, viz.: the organization of public opinion into two definite lines of policy. But it is a comparatively ineffective means, and it no longer suffices to prevent sectional delegation in any of the democracies we have examined. Besides, it is accompanied by a series of other evils, which in so far as they lead to the suppression of responsible leadership, tend to the degradation of public life. We propose now to consider the effect of the reform in remedying these defects of the present system.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4     Next Part
Home - Random Browse