A rare case of political science hitting the political agenda – albeit with some delay: Poul Nødgaard from the Danish People’s Party has read an article by Professor Jørgen Elklit about the system used to distribute seats in Danish local elections..
What separates the systems used in national and local elections are primarily three rules:
- Parties can agree on sharing votes in the calculation of the distribution of seats without having to share a list.
- There are no electoral threshold that a party or combination of parties have to pass in order to gain a seat (on the other hand, assemblies are much smaller at the local and regional level)
- Seats are distributed according to the d’Hondt, not the highest fraction rule.
Generally, the effect is that larger parties are favoured in the distribution of seats and a calculation made by the Ministry of the Interior suggests that there are a number of local councils where a majority of votes does not translate into a majority of seats.
The documents published by the Local Government Committee can be found here:
- Poul Nødgaard’s question with links to answers by the Ministry of the Interior
- The answer by the Ministry of the Interior (pdf-file)
- The calculations for a number of cases made by the Ministry of the Interior (pdf-file)
Even if the Danish People’ Party has the support of the Social Liberal Party in calling for a change of the way seats are distributed, chances of a reform are slim: The system has been in place for a very long time and Liberal Minister of the Interior has rejected calls for a reform.
Even if the Conservatives have declared that they find the discussion “interesting”, the Liberals and the Social Democrats who are the main benefactors of the present system still hold a clear majority in the Folketing.
PS: If you are really curious, Elklit’s article “Er der virkelig ingen argumenter for at ændre det kommunale valgsystem?”can be found in the journal Politica, 2004, vol. 34/3, 333-351.
Correction: I discovered that I for some reason originally filed this under Sweden. Ooops.