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2006 | 18 | 29-66

Article title

Majority voting system. 'Falsa lectio' and 'fama clamosa'


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The article evaluates the more and more frequently articulated postulates for changing the electoral system in Poland. In most cases, supporters of replacing the proportional representative system with the majority system claim that changing the mechanism of seat allocation will improve the state of Poland's modern democracy. A recent diagnosis points to a number of shortcomings of the Polish political system in several dimensions, including the bad quality of political class and political parties which might be remedied by a change to the system of redistribution of parliamentary seats. According to supporters of such an option, it will reduce the number of political parties in the Parliament thus contributing to stabilisation of the political system. This conviction is evidently influenced by the so-called Duverger's law, concerning the relation between the electoral system, the party system and the wider political system. The authors of the proposed changes tend to forget, however, that the Duverger's law is nowadays rejected, even by its originator. The same concerns other presumed arguments supporting majority systems, including the responsibility of authorities, more efficient organisation of the political scene, more genuine representation of the voters or restoring to the voting act its original electoral function, etc. In fact, the effectiveness of an electoral system is influenced by a number of factors of which the 'pure' election model is not a decisive one. When selecting a model of electoral law the electoral system should be examined as a whole rather than from the point of an electoral model. For example, the size of constituencies or regulations eliminating extreme parties should be taken into consideration. Eventually, the outcome of the election is affected by non-institutional factors, such as political culture, social and political divide, the degree of political awareness, the economic and cultural background, etc. Eventually, it should be realised that no electoral law is able to arrange the political scene. The problems of 'Polish democracy', which is still an emerging one, do not result from electoral law, but from the general, much deeper crisis of the political parties, while it is the parties which are the most significant element of contemporary democracies, critical to the effectiveness and functionality of any political system.



  • J. Szymanek, ul. Wandy 3/7 m 23, 03-949 Warszawa, Poland


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