Monday, October 11, 2010

How Europeans can ignore what the people think

A conservative member of Parliamentan, Daniel Hannan, has a column in the WSJ explaining why there can't be an equivalent of the tea party movement over in Britain. It all comes back to how we choose our candidates for office. We have primaries where the people vote to pick the candidates. So the people have a voice in who will be on the ticket for the general election. In Britain and many other countries with a parliamentary system, the parties pick their candidates.
What makes the U.S. truly unique is not some undefined cultural singularity, but the way it selects its candidates for public office. In most European democracies, "party-list" systems mean, in effect, that the leader and his clique get to choose every candidate.

European legislatures thus exclude entire currents of popular opinion. European voters are habituated to being taken for granted. "It doesn't matter how I vote, nothing ever changes" was the response I heard on doorstep after doorstep before the recent U.K. election. Why bother with a tea party when you know in your bones that your leaders will ignore you?

Lurking behind the Euro-sophism is an uneasy sense that, if there were open primaries on this side of the Atlantic, voters might start demanding all sorts of unreasonable things—might, in other words, start behaving like tea partiers. Open primaries ensure that legislatures remain diverse, independent of the executive, and responsive to public opinion. They make a spontaneous antitax campaign possible.

You don't know how lucky you are to have them, my friends.
When the parties are weaker, the people have more of a voice. You may or may not like what the people have to say, but at least on our side of the pond, their voice has an impact.