Position of the Democratic Club, No.35 - On the parliamentary electoral system in the Czech Republic
The Parliamentary election in June 2006 revealed serious shortcomings in our current electoral system. For example, significant differences between the share of votes casted for individual political parties and the actual share of the seats in the parliament allocated to them are not in line with the requirement of proportional representation as stated in the Constitution of the Czech Republic. In addition, uneven sizes of electoral districts are against the principle of equality, since while in the largest electoral district it was sufficient to obtain 4% of valid votes to gain one seat, in the smallest districts it required up to 20% of votes. The system of allocating remaining votes is set in such a way as to give the advantage to large political parties. It can be then concluded that voters do not have equal standing in the electoral system.
The Democratic Club demands that a new election law be passed, which eliminates the above-mentioned features that are unconstitutional. The law should introduce at the state level the number of votes required for a parliamentary seat obtained in the first round and for distribution of the seats in the second round. This way the effect of the uneven size of electoral districts would be eliminated. Furthermore, the minimum of five percent of votes for a political party to be represented should be put aside. The current situation prevents the entry of new political parties into the parliament. The minimum in addition has the effect that the voter has to consider not only the program of the party but also the probability of reaching the minimum.
It would also be appropriate to consider changing the rule about preferences for individual candidates on the same party ballot. It is desirable to assure equality of individual voters who take advantage of this option with those who vote the straight party line, and thus obviously agree with the order the candidates are listed.
While considering absentee voting we should take into account the fact that such voting exists in almost all developed democracies. Thus we recommend making it legal in the Czech Republic. This would correspond to the constitutional principle of the universal right to vote (par. 18 of the Constitution). Concern that it may lead to the risk of breach of secrecy should be left to the individual voter. It would also be beneficial to consider electronic voting that could eliminate the problem of absentee votes.
It would also be suitable to consider renewal of the requirement that existed in the first Republic and in the first postwar election. Then election participation was mandatory and the selection from offered lists of candidates or their rejection resulted kin fully free election.Prague, April 23, 2007
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