Brown Study

Brown study

19 January 2019

9:00 AM

19 January 2019

9:00 AM

As this is an election year, I would like to bring you up-to-date on the ground-breaking research that the Spectator Australia Electoral Reform Unit has been undertaking. Since our last report there have been three significant developments. The first is that the current experience in the UK puts beyond doubt the value of a reform that has not been utilised nearly enough, namely holding a second election if the first one did not produce the right result. The British people voted for Brexit, i.e. to leave the European Union. It is true that this result was reached by the archaic test that a majority of several million people voted in favour of leaving. However, the result shows that too many ignorant people voted and clearly did not know what was good for them. Moreover, this disappointing result has been widely discredited by many sober and sensible observers in the UK, including most readers of the Guardian, the entire politics department of the East London Polytechnic and numerous celebrities, their publicists and several of their manicurists. That responsible opposition simply cannot be ignored and, fortunately, wiser heads have prevailed and there is now an irresistible groundswell to have a second vote to give the people a chance to come to their senses. It may seem an original proposal, but in fact the EU itself has applied this principle in many elections and referenda with the encouraging result that when an election is re-run several times, eventually the right result is obtained. We expect, therefore, that the British experience will shortly be vindicated as a major reform in electoral law.

Secondly, our searching the world for recent developments has unearthed a major reform implemented in the Democratic Republic of Congo. You may think that the DRC is too far away to be of any relevance to our inquiries, but many of us have followed its progress since 1963 when it became independent from Belgium. Since then, it has had a period of tranquil government with only 5 million of its people being slaughtered in civil wars, a mere 5 changes in the name of the country and the assassination of several, but definitely not all, of its former presidents. But this challenging start has only hardened its resolve to take up the mantle of democracy, and a recent reform shows that it is well on track to taking its place in the Pantheon of Truly Democratic States. Thus, as certain administrative problems have arisen during the current presidential election, the authorities have decided that in 3 regions, where the voting habits of the population leave a lot to be desired, polling should take place, not at the same time as the election in the rest of the country, but after that momentous event and after the result has been declared. Some people, who always think they know better than Africans, scoff at this reform, but when you think about it, the worst thing about elections is waking up in the morning and finding who the government is, by which time it is too late. But if you know the composition of the government before you vote, this must contribute to casting a more enlightened and informed vote. Not only is that so, but this reform has been built on a long line of other electoral milestones in Africa, ranging from having more completed ballot papers than voters, banning political parties and executing  candidates. Thus we see, out of Africa comes major reform. Unsurprisingly, this major reform has won the Robert Mugabe Award for Human Rights for 2019.

The third reform, again based on hard and recent experience, enables us to revisit our old favourite, the most recent presidential election in the United States. As you know, Hillary Clinton clearly won that election because she won more votes than Donald Trump, and also because she was supposed to win, the media wanted her to win, she was a saint and Donald Trump was clearly unacceptable to every elite in the country. So Trump’s election was invalid, despite the pathetic argument in his favour that he won according to the electoral college vote, the constitution, the law and all precedents. According to all sound-thinking progressives, the sole test of electoral success is whether you won the popular vote, i.e., whether you won more votes than your opponent and not when the votes are muddied around in an electoral college with the votes of hillbillies, rednecks and millionaires. But a recent Australian election shows conclusively that that principle need not apply if the progressive candidate who is pre-ordained to win, in fact does not win the popular vote, but has to scrape home by using some loophole like the electoral law and is able to juggle the preference votes of hillbillies, rednecks and millionaires. Thus, Dr Kerryn Phelps was elected at the by-election in Wentworth, but did not win the popular vote. She won a modest 29.19 per cent of the personal vote, but was beaten by the Liberal candidate, Dave Sharma, who won 43.08 per cent. Even when preferences reared their ugly head to determine the two party-preferred vote, Mr Sharma surged ahead and had 60.75 per cent of the vote, whereas Dr Phelps had a mere 39.25 per cent. On the Clinton principle, Mr Sharma clearly won the popular vote. But Dr Phelps is a saint, was the favoured candidate of the media and all progressives and sensible people. So she was entitled to win on preferences, the Australian equivalent of the electoral college and eventually did so. You may think this result unfair, but look at it this way. It shows how right the Clinton principle is. It has only been slightly modified so that the rule now is that the sainted candidate may lose the popular vote but should still win if the true intention of the voters is ascertained only by preference votes and even if the vote in an electoral college goes the other way. Happy election year!

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