Getting Majoritarianism Right

In the reading “Getting Majoritarianism Right”, Meisburger focuses on Proportional Representation (PR) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) He argues that PR has several drawbacks that makes it not suitable for developing or emerging democracies in MENA.(1) First, PR will worsen social divisions in MENA because party leaders focus on interests of their group much more than on the public welfare. More, because party leaders, not the constituents, decide the party’s candidates, the candidates might not be representative of the district. Another danger of PR is that it might promote extremism. In a PR state, a small political party scattered around the country can gain quite a significant number of seats in the legislature. This increases the danger of an extreme ideology or interest group taking over the legislature. Meisburger also argues that while PR promotes the formation of parties in developing democracies, not necessarily democratic ones, while SMD might be more helpful in this case.

An article from the New York Times touches upon a religious conflict that took place in Egypt.(2) On Friday, a group of militants opened fire at three buses filled with Christian pilgrims right after they left a monastery. Six pilgrims were killed during the attack, and nineteen were wounded. In response to this attack, Egypt said on Sunday that it had killed 19 militants linked to this ambush. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

Is PR suitable for countries with deep sectarian conflicts?

For countries in MENA, such as Egypt, religious conflicts between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, or between different branches of Islam, are so severe that a PR system would further divide the countries by creating opposing political parties based on interests of religious or ethnic groups.

  1. Timothy M. Meisburger “Getting Majoritarianism Right The Journal of Democracy 23:1 (2012), 155-163.
  2. Declan Walsh, “Egypt Says It Killed 19 Militants After Deadly Attack on Christians,” The New York Times, November 04, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/04/world/middleeast/egypt-militants-coptic-christians.html.


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