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18 Jan 2023  (496 Views) 
Political systems

Election system in Switzerland
1. I recently learned that election into the national parliament and local (i.e. canton and municipal) councils in Switzerland are based on proportional votes received by participating political bodies. 

2. Each political party which receives votes above a threshold gets a number of seats based on the proportion of votes received by the party. The party decides on the candidates in the party that takes the seats. 

3. This system has the following advantages:

a) The number of seats received by each political party is proportional to the votes that the party receives. This is different from the "first past the post" system adopted in US, UK, Singapore and many other countries that follow the US or UK systems. For example, if a party receives 30% of the popular votes, the party will get 30% of the seats under the Swiss system. The political party will get less than 30% of the seats under the "first past the post" system. In some cases, they may not win any seats at all.

b) The political party will distribute the seats to its "candidates", based on seniority and experience of these candidates. It is likely that the most capable candidates will be selected. It will reduce the risk that a capable leader may lose an election based  on "first past the post" system. 

c) The cost of the election campaign spent by the political parties is likely to be much lower under the Swiss system, compared to the system in US and UK. The political party can focus on its election manifesto, rather than on the personal qualities of the individual candidates (which usually lead to large sums being spent to smear the candidates of the other parties). 

4. There are some disadvantages under the Swiss system:

a) A corrupt or incompetent candidate cannot be thrown out directly by the voters. 

b) The voters cannot vote directly for outstanding leaders.

5. On balance, the advantages of the Swiss system outweighs the disadvantages. 

Tan Kin Lian


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