Election reform hits a snag

The Justice Ministry's election reform committee, which was intended to finish its work in late March, has reportedly hit a bit of a rough patch (fi). Anonymous sources have accused the big parties of obstructionism, so this week the Centre Party's secretary Jarmo Korhonen, a member of the committee, laid down (fi) his party's proposal. He that the big parties were prepared to change the system so that the whole of Finland constitutes a single electoral area and there's a four percent national electoral threshold. The Swedish People's Party, which benefits from its regionally concentrated support and is currently barely above the four percent threshold, obviously opposes (fi) such a move.

Of the micro-parties, the Senior Party and the Liberals issued a joint statement (fi) in which they approved of the plan for a single electoral area, but said that the threshold should be larger than four percent. Instead they would like to see a two-percent threshold - which, for what it's worth, is still so high that both of them put together would have a difficult time clearing it.

Looking at the last ten parliamentary elections, on average 6.9 parties have received more than four percent of the vote and 7.7 parties have gotten more than two percent. No parties have fallen between four and two percent in the last three elections, but in the six elections before that, one or two regularly did. Fear of fragmentation is hardly an issue unless we assume that these results would change drastically. Of the current established parties, the Christian Democrats and the Green League spent several elections below four percent back in the day, but had MPs anyway due to regional support and beneficial electoral alliances.

I kind of like the idea of a single national electoral area, but I agree that four percent is too high of a threshold. There's no particular reason why the limit shouldn't be two percent.

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