By Tanja Gabriele Baudson

Today’s party democracy suffers from two issues. First, members of parliament (MPs) should represent voters’ opinions. Yet their free mandate often suffers from obligations to vote in accordance with party interests and is therefore overridden by the group (Cohen, 2003). Second, due to selection processes, alignment with party policy facilitates success within that party (Cox & McCubbins, 2007). However, those in power are not necessarily competent to solve current issues. Given the complexity of political issues, pooling expertise across party boundaries (similar to problem-oriented interdisciplinary science projects) therefore promises to be more fruitful.

Decreasing membership figures point to voters’ disidentification with parties (Van Biezen et al., 2012). Furthermore, the amount of data necessary to cast informed votes overwhelms many individuals. Voting advice applications (VAA) matching voters’ opinions to parties increase voter turnout and voters' propensity to seek political information (Ladner & Pianzola, 2010).

Voters’ interests may be represented more accurately by extending the VAA approach such that, like on dating platforms, voters obtain a “matching index” for individual candidates (rather than entire parties) who represent their values, opinions, and political priorities best. Once elected, MPs can be flexibly grouped by their expertise for given tasks and issues, regardless of party boundaries. This approach may increase voters’ identification with politics, ensure independence of political representatives and, eventually, enhance the quality of political work.


Do you have an idea of how such a system could be implemented? Not technically, that's the easy part. The real problem is the expected resistance of the current power structures, in which parties play an important role. It is unlikely that members of a parliament that were elected as representatives of a party will vote for a reform that eliminates parties.

Konrad Hinsen · 17 Mar, 2016
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Tanja Gabriele Baudson



Published: 15 Mar, 2016

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