Sunday, December 21, 2008

Multiparty democracy as comic farce

Here in the States, it's always en vogue to ridicule the rigid two-party political system of Republicans and Democrats. And in quasi-dictatorships, the one-party option, like Golkar back in the Suharto days, is equally risible.

But everyone's ultimate goal of multiparty democracy is a messy solution, too. Just think of Italy, which once gained fame for changing its government every few months. The idea of cobbled-together coalitions, where a party with a laughable minority of votes gets to govern (See: Yudhoyono, Susilo Bambang), is hardly the ideal either.

A cautionary tale on this front comes, ironically, from my normally stable homeland of Canada. The governing Conservatives, guilty of overreaching, faced a political putsch from the three parties in opposition - which included, bizarrely, a party that wants to secede from Canada entirely. Their proposed leader? A hapless fellow who garnered no more than 25% of the popular vote nationally. This led the government to close down Parliament, until everyone figures out what to do. Welcome to politics as Feydeau farce.

This is useful to remember as we get closer to Indonesia's elections in 2009. As much as multiparty democracy is a healthy thing, it can also be healthy for one party - whoever that may be - to win a broad and convincing mandate.

Today's Top Stories

Pre-emptive response to another Mumbai?

Government coldblooded, in seeking captured Indonesian crew

Finance minister sees clouds on horizon

Indonesia loses to Thailand in semifinals


GJ said...

Yes sometimes you get obscure little minorities becoming "Kingmakers" and having a disproportional influence on policy. One wonders which is the worst type of evil no choice or too much choice.

Christopher Taylor said...

Exactly ... I love that the Canadian response was to close down the government entirely ... my homeland has become so dramatic! :)