Our Government

Electoral Reform

On the 11th of June 2020 the Constitutional Court handed down judgment declaring that the Electoral Act is unconstitutional to the extent that it provides that citizens may be elected to the National Assembly (NA) and Provincial Legislatures only by virtue of their membership of a political party. The declaration was prospective and suspended for 24 months for Parliament to act.

The court’s judgment, read with the Constitution, requires that the electoral system allow for candidates to stand for political office without being a member of a political party, and must result, in general, in proportional representation (PR).

In addition to enabling independent candidates to stand for political office, this presents an opportunity to review the electoral system and incorporate proposals which have long been advocated for by various stakeholders since the 1990s.

 

In order to illustrate the design of the ideal electoral system, we present a decision tree of options as Figure 1 shows. The blue blocks reflect the recommended option at each stage.

In short, an electoral system with the following features would be best suited to meet the requirements of the New Nation Movement judgment while using the opportunity to create a fairer and more accountable system:

• Mixed (constituency and PR) system
• Multi-member
• Fixed boundaries – as to allow for the number of representatives to change, not the boundaries of constituencies
• Open list, and
• Unranked voting.

When discussing electoral system options, this document largely confines itself to examples of national elections (elections). However, it should be assumed that each option discussed would also apply to the provincial ballot.

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