The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

03-Sep-2008

Hong Kong

Filed under: Democratic MethodsRepresentation — eidelberg @ 4:44 am

Hong Kong, or rather the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), has a total area of 422 square miles on which reside some seven million people—roughly the same as Israel’s in the year 2000, when I first published this report.

Hong Kong has a 60-member legislature. The legislature represents 5 Geographical Constituencies and 28 Functional Constituencies. The 5 Geographical Constituencies are represented by 24 members. The 28 Functional Constituencies (e.g., Education, Finance, Medicine, Labor, etc.) are represented by 30 members. (Labor has three representatives). The remaining 6 members of the legislature are the Election Committee.

Over three million registered voters had the right to vote in the Geographical Constituencies. The list voting system is used in the election. A voter can only choose one of the lists printed on the ballot paper (comparable to Israel’s system of list voting).

In contrast, Preferential voting is employed in four Functional Constituencies. A voter must choose at least one candidate. He/she must mark ‘1’ in the circle opposite the name of the candidate of his/her first preference, ‘2’ opposite the name of the candidate of his/her second preference, and so on. This electoral arrangement is conducive to professionalism. (By the way, Hong Kong has a per capita income of about $30,000, among the highest in the world.)

For the remaining 24 Functional Constituencies, the first-past-the-post (or plurality) system is used to determine the election results (as in the United States and about 24 other countries.

Notice the combination of diverse kinds of representation election—geographical and functional—coupled to diverse methods of election, namely, party lists, preferential voting, and “first-past-the-post.”

Regrettably, Israel’s parliamentary electoral system suffers by comparison. Indeed, of the scores of parliamentary electoral systems I have examined, Israel’s is by far the worst, indeed, is the least democratic! It also has one the highest rates of corruption (largely attributable to multiparty cabinet government, which MKs like Aryeh Eldad and Benjamin Netanyahu mindlessly prefer to a presidential system of government even in the face of the present debacle concerning which cabinet minister, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni or Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, will replace another Likud turncoat, Ehud Olmert. (Is it any wonder that 95 percent of the public deem Israeli politicians dishonest?

Israel could do much better if its ruling elites—politicians, judges, academics, and journalists—were not creatures of mindless habits or were not animated by self-aggrandizement, to say nothing of ignorance.