English friends of mine had a discussion about voting and voting apathy lately. I had the impression that the elderly electoral systems in Britain and the U.S. may lead to more voter apathy as they're essentialy two party systems. With the two big parties mostly being accumulations of crooks, hard to distinguish in their aims, and thus not worth of being supported, many people don't, arguing that voting for a potential small pary, say a 'green' one, won't make a difference anyway.
Not so in more modern electoral systems where small parties can get seats as well and may start influencing the government as a small partner in coalitions. (Cynically speaking, I like to say that losing a war every now and again will make you have cutting-edge constitutions afterwards...) I guess that makes going to elections more attractive as there may actually be options you don't despise completely.
Sure, when it is taken too far and the system lets too many groups in, things go wrong as well as it will be hard to actually find a majority in parliament to make a coalition with - leading to more extremist governments. That was a problem in the Weimar republic and seems to be a problem in Israel these days - though I am pretty sure they learnt from the mistakes made earlier in the century when setting up Israel's constitution.
Still, having a clever electoral system obviously doesn't keep people from voting for right parties in great numbers for out of frustration (Nice link to a commentary by Günther Grass on the upcoming war in The Guardian in there).
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