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this number 10,000 are Liberals and 5,000 Conservatives. Then if every vote is to have an equal value, 10,000 Liberals will return two representatives, and 5,000 Conservatives will return one. But what security is there that this will be the result ?
Suppose the voters are divided between the three constituencies as follows:
That is to say, one-third of the voters obtain two-thirds of the representation, and that party which in the constituency has a majority of two to one is in the Legislature in the hopeless minority of one to two.
Instead of every vote having an equal value, every Conservative vote by this plan of community representation counts for as much as four Liberal votes—the principle of the sovereignty of the people is completely overthrown, and à minority rule is set up. And while the above instance shows that under this plan of community representation it is possible that one-third of the electors may obtain twothirds of the representation, it is equally possible that they shall receive no representation at all. This depends on the shape of the boundary lines. Let us rearrange the boundaries of the constituencies so that the voters are divided between the three constituencies as follows:
Here the Conservatives are practically disfranchised and politically extinguished, and though entitled to one-third of the representation are, owing to the fact that they are too diffused to be able to command in any constituency a local majority, shut out and excluded from obtaining their fair share of representation.
No one can maintain that this is a fair or true representation of opinion. Why should 3,000 voters have a representative, and 4,000 voters have none, simply because they live on two sides of a boundary line instead of one?
The above illustrations would, in themselves, be sufficient to kill any new system of representation. If the most ingenious critic could bring against proportional representation one-hundredth part of the case I have here brought against the existing plan of locality representation, Sir John Lubbock's society would not bave a single adherent. As it is, gentlemen of every shade of opinion have not hesitated to join his society, because, as Mr. Mill has declared, the principle of proportional representation is a principle of fair play to all parties and opinions without distinction; it helps no one party or section to bear down others, but is for the benefit of whoever is in danger of being borne down. It is therefore a principle in which all parties may concur, if they prefer permanent justice to a temporary victory.'
But something more is wanting than the alleged perfection of a rival scheme if we are to attack with effect a vicious principle of Parliamentary election which is defended with vehemence by statesmen of the type of Mr. Bright, on the sole ground that it has been established for upwards of six hundred years. Proof must be forthcoming as to the actual existence of great and recognised defects in the working of the principle, and not only as to the possibility of their occurrence. There is no difficulty in obtaining the required proof, the only difficulty is in the making of selections from the evidence at our command. The statement of the United States senator, ' wherever you go in the United States you find gross misrepresentation of the people of the United States in that House which was peculiarly intended to represent them,' is true all the world over wherever the system of locality representation prevails. We have our home examples, the most striking of which are well known, i.e. the general election of 1868, when in Lancashire a minority of the electors secured two representatives for every one obtained by the majority,
102,000 Conservatives electing 22 representatives,
and, more important still, the general election of 1874, which gave us a Parliament with a Conservative majority of 50, although the Liberals polled 1,400,000 against the Conservative total of 1,200,000. More striking examples, however, can be quoted from abroad.
The defects inherent in the principle of community as opposed to individual representation have been shown most conspicuously by recent events in Belgium. In that country the representatives are elected by a general ticket,' or scrutin de liste'-i.e. each voter votes for as many candidates as there are representatives to be elected, giving to each one vote.
It does not appear likely that there will be any serious attempt to
apply the principles of the general list system to the coming Redistribution Bill. There are, however, not a few politicians who agree with Mr. Leake's recent declaration when he said, Rather than break the political unity of Manchester into individual communities, I would accept in one block the whole allotment of members to Manchester, whatever the number which was allotted might be;' and who further believe that the difficulties of representative government will be most easily surmounted by the adoption of this system.
It will therefore not be out of place if I refer to the working of the system as illustrated by Belgium, in order to show how important it is that we, profiting by their experience, should avoid their mistakes.
The result of the Parliamentary elections which were held in June 1882 was to give
35 seats to 29,142 Liberals,
, 28,052 Conservatives.
An indignant protest against a system capable of producing such
result was at once issued by · L'Association Réformiste Belge'a young society which had been set on foot the year before, with the object of substituting the principle of proportional for majority representation. The Liberals, who had profited by this unfair representation, met this protest issued by the advocates of true representation with the taunt that they were infected with the taint of Clericalism, and unworthy of the attention of all true Liberals.
The recent elections, however, which were held last June have caused the Liberal party to alter their attitude towards proportional representation, for if the principle of majority representation belped them in June 1882, it helped their opponents still more in June 1884. Their eyes, which were shut to the unfairness of the system so long as they reaped the advantage, have been opened now that they are in their turn the sufferers; for the result of the late Parliamentary election held last June has been to give
50 seats to 27,930 Conservatives,
i.e. that party which polled within 3,000 of half the votes received only one-twenty-fifth part of the representation obtained by that party which polled less than 3,000 more than half the votes; or, in other words, every Conservative vote counted for as much as nineteen Liberal votes !
The following table shows the results of the elections of June 1884:
Thus at Brussels the Conservatives won sixteen seats with 9,300 votes: the Liberals with 7,900 got none ; at Antwerp the Conservatives with 6,800 votes won eight seats, and the Liberals with 5,400 got none; at Nivelles a majority of eighty-seven in a poll of 3,223 was sufficient to turn out four Liberals and put in four Conservatives; and in addition to Brussels, Antwerp, and Nivelles, where the Liberals were unable to obtain a single seat, at Louvain, Bruges, Ypres, Namur, Dinant, and Philippeville the Liberals were utterly demolished and absolutely blotted out from the representation.
A month after the election for the Chamber followed the election for the Senate, with an exactly opposite result, owing to the change of a few votes from one side to the other.
The results of the July election for the Senate are stated in the following table :
Now what do these two elections show? It must be remembered that they followed each other within the space of one month.
In June Brussels elected sixteen Conservatives and not a single Liberal for the Chamber, and in July Brussels elected eight Liberals and not a single Conservative for the Senate. Brussels has now sixteen Conservatives in the Chamber and eight Liberals in the Senate. The same constituency has thus instructed the deputies which it sends to the Senate to undo the work of its representatives which it sent only a month before to the Chamber. On the 10th of June the Conservatives have a majority of 1,387 and sweep the board. On the 15th of July the Liberals have a majority of 542 and in their turn sweep the board.
It will also be observed by a reference to the above table that the question which party should obtain the majority of the representation in the Senate rested with 275 Brussels voters. If at the July election 275 Brussels voters had voted for the Conservative list instead of the Liberal list, Brussels would have sent to the Senate eight Conservatives in place of eight Liberals, and the balance of parties in the Senate would have been completely reversed, 27,432 Conservatives carrying twenty seats, while the majority of 28,195 Liberals would have won only eleven seats : i.e. a minority of electors would have secured two-thirds of the representation.
It would be difficult to imagine any plan of election which could put greater power into the hands of a minority than the system which enables 275 Brussels electors--i.e. th of the Brussels voters, or both of the whole number of voters—to decide whether the majority or minority shall rule. A still more flagrant and scandalous example of the utter absurdity of community representation as a means of providing a security for true representation and against the undue power of minorities, was afforded by the elections for the Chamber three years ago. Parties were then so evenly balanced in the Chamber that the question which party should be in office depended on the complexion of the contingent sent by the city of Ghent to the popular assembly. If Ghent sent eight Liberals, the country would enjoy the benefits of a Liberal Administration ; if, on the other hand, it sent eight Conservatives, a Conservative Government would be installed in power. The Liberals of Ghent carried their list by a majority of forty, and an era of Liberal Administration was secured. But if twenty-one electors had changed sides, the Conservatives would have won the Ghent election, and the majority in the Chamber would have been Conservative instead of Liberal! Surely a system which is capable of producing such results as these cannot be defended by those who affect to wish for the true representation of opinion. The fact that the change of a few votes from one side to the other may entirely alter the whole result of the election, necessarily imports into election contests every artifice which