University Of Tasmania
Howatt_whole_thesis.pdf (126.57 MB)

Some proposals for improvement in the machinery of representation and government of parliaments elected by the single, transferable vote system of proportional representation : with special reference to Tasmanian experience with the Hare-Clark system

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posted on 2023-05-26, 21:08 authored by Howatt, G
The aim of his thesis is to examine and propose modifications in electoral and Parliamentary machinery so as to enable Parliaments to be both effective in their functioning and closely representative of' the voters in their composition. A method of providing such representation has been used in Tasmania since 1909 to elect its House of Assembly. Known locally as the Hare-Clark system, it is a form of the Single, Transferable Vote method of proportional representation. But this Hare-Clark application, though resulting in Parliaments closely representative of the voters, did not prevent the occurrence of Parliamentary deadlocks and instability at various times. Could an electoral system provide the representativeness and the wide choice of candidates possible under the S.T.V. method and still avoid deadlocks and undue instability? The aim of the thesis is to explore both questions and, if possible and without impairing the justice of election results, to make recommendations of ways to avert deadlocks, to ensure majority rule, and to facilitate the likelihood of Parliamentary majorities of workable size. How these objectives were sought is set out in the four Parts of the thesis. Part I, the Introduction, provides the historical background of the Parliamentary deadlock problem in Tasmania; notes the premises on which the work of the thesis is based; proposes criteria for judging the desirability and fairness of electoral systems; and explains the steps followed, and some of' the problems involved, in seeking the objectives of the thesis. Part II shows how an even number of vacancies (then six) in an electorate can - and often did - result in the two major parties obtaining an equal number of seats per electorate, though receiving markedly unequal vote totals in the electorates. This occurrence frequently produced or threatened to produce either deadlocks or extremely narrow majorities in the Assembly. The case for the proposed remedy for this cause of deadlocks, which involved altering the number of vacancies from six to seven, is given in Part II. This recommendation was adopted by the Tasmanian Parliament. As altering the number of vacancies could, however, only lessen, not eliminate, the likelihood of deadlocks, the research for Part III of the thesis was undertaken in order to extend the range of possibilities for avoiding deadlocks and unjust election outcomes. The resulting proposals recommend changing certain procedures in Parliament so as to enable a party to govern, without dependence on another party, provided it has won a State-wide majority of the votes and has received no less than one seat fewer than a majority in the House. Part III considers various questions of importance in political science, such as the value of fixing 'the governing responsibility. Part IV of the thesis completes the analysis of the causes of deadlocks and the possibilities of minority rule by examining in detail the consequences of the unused remainder of votes which inevitably results from using the Droop formula to determine the electoral quota. In Part IV proposals are made for ways of representing or eliminating this unused remainder, thereby ensuring majority rule under the S.T.V. system of proportional representation. If so modified, the S.T.V. method could guarantee infallibly that a party with a majority of the overall vote of the community (State, nation, or other) must win a majority in Parliament, with favourable prospects of the majority being of workable size.


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Copyright 1967 the author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD) - University of Tasmania, 1971.

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