Have Your Say:

Representation & Electoral System

The ‘Have Your Say’ page is intended to give you an opportunity to express support for or opposition to various issues and ideas of the time. 

How should Members of Parliament be elected?

The present system in South Africa is a list system. Parties put up a list of candidates - voters vote for the party of their choice. A party which collects 50% of the electoral votes will gain 50% of the house seats (say 200 seats) and the first 200 names on their party list get appointed to Parliament. Parties are represented according to the proportion of their electoral support. The candidates answer to the party on which list they appear.

A Constituency system is where constituencies are bordered by physical boundaries usually one parliamentary seat per constituency. Voters vote for the candidate of their choice. The elected Member of Parliament is answerable directly to his/her constituency and its members.

Constituencies can also be defined by the number of voters in a constituency, thus a large constituency may further be defined as a physical area with say 200 000 candidates and return 2 MPs to parliament. The number of MPs depends on the number of voters in the constituency. Voters vote for the candidate/s of their choice. Each elected Member of Parliament is answerable to his/her constituency and its members.

The central principle of Athenian democracy was drafting by lot, or sortition. Representatives were selected by lottery or random selection. This principle is used in the DDF's selection process for a proposed Senate or Upper House of Parliament,

Should we have a Senate or upper house of parliament?
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The DDF are proposing a Senate or an upper house of Parliament to which Cabinet and the Legislature must answer. This is a people's forum appointed by a random process from a volunteer population.

Should a Senate be a Chapter 9 institution?
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Chapter 9 of the constitution of the Republic of South Africa protects institutions and persons established under its protection from interference from politicians and political bodies (including Parliament) and is intended to guard democracy.

Who pays for the Senate?
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In order for the Senate to function independently of Parliament it needs its own funds. So Treasury should provide those funds.

How should a Senate be populated?
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The DDF are proposing that the Senate be appointed on a random basis from within peer groups demographically representative of the population, so as to get a broad based representation of the entire population in the Senate. The random process is known as sortition and has has historic roots in ancient Athens and ancient Rome

Would a Senate be another layer of government or an only layer of democracy?
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The proposed Senate is seen by the DDF as the only layer of democracy available to the population between parliamentary elections.

Should an LGBT peer group exist for members of the LGBT community?
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The LGBT community often feel discriminated against in business, society and government. A gender peer group for the LGBT community would give voice to that community's concerns and rights.

How should a LGBT peer group be identified within the Gender Category?
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How a peer group is identified may foster self consciouseness. A neutral non-discriminatory label might encourage members of the community to self identify and participate where a discriminatory label may discourage participation.

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