The question Why are "third parties" viable in many democracies but not the USA? ask why third parties don't win seats in US. The answer is simple. US got winner takes all attitude election system.

Based on that, I would think that any countries with different election system than the United States would have been more representative.

This is what I would expect:

Political parties want to maximize number of seats . So if 20% of people wants subsidies for peanut farmers, and no political parties advocate that yet, then the one political party that favor it will easily get 20% votes from the peanuts voting bloc.

I would expect 20% of the senators/representatives to have peanut farmers agenda. Whether their wish become laws would be another issue. But at least the issue will be talked about and used as bargaining chips for other things.

You can replace peanuts farmers with libertarian, liberal, gay, statists, conservatives, etc.

In fact, if the word representative means anything, any issue that is supported by X% of the population should also be represented by X% of their "representatives"

There are 560 members of DPR in Indonesia for example. So any issues supported by 1/560=.2% Indonesian population should have at least 1 DPR member that count on it.

However, in the real world, this usually does not seem to be the case, Some samples of issues that I think is under represented in Indonesia, for example, are:

  1. Porn legalization
  2. More freedom of speech. Currently some radical groups can pretend they get offended and jail some very popular governor.
  3. Legalization of drugs.
  4. Citizen dividend
  5. Replacing income taxes with land taxes? I mean. C'mon. Most Indonesians are workers, not land owners. Surely they love the switch.

Each of this issue is supported by 10%-70% of Indonesians I think. Not many I know. But it's not even talked about. Population that wants those issues done do not have any party to pick. That is far more than our .2% threshold. Yet no body campaign on those issues.


  • What do you think I tried to promote here? I am just asking questions?
    – user4951
    Apr 19 '18 at 2:51
  • There is a discussion about improving this question on meta.
    – Philipp
    Apr 19 '18 at 8:53
  • Related question 1: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/9670/…
    – user4951
    Apr 19 '18 at 13:59
  • I am using (this is why I use some real samples instead of hypothetical ones) peanuts as samples. Basically if 20% of voters are libertarian then a libertarian party would get 20% of the votes. That's what I really mean. Being libertarian means agreeing on many topics, not one topic like @Thern says.
    – user4951
    Apr 21 '18 at 3:08

So if 20% of people wants subsidies for peanut farmers, and no political parties advocate that yet, then the one political party that favor it will easily get 20% votes from the peanuts voting bloc.

Not necessarily.

Maybe I would be kind of in favor of peanut subsidies, but there are a couple of issues which are more important to me. When the peanut farmer party also wants to start a global thermonuclear war (which I consider geopolitically unwise, but I'm no expert) and outlaw pistachio ice cream (those monsters!), then I would weight the pro's and con's and likely decide that they won't get my vote.

This is a general problem with any system based on political parties. Nobody will find a party which 100% matches their opinion on every issue. Let's say there are just 10 political issues. For each of these major issues, you can either be for or against. That means there are 2 to the power of 10 = 1024 parties required to fit every possible combination of preferences and guarantee a proportional representation on every single one of these issues. That's more parties than there are seats.

Note that this is a simlification of the real world. First, there are usually far more than than just 10 relevant issues. Second, opinions on issues are rarely binary "yes" or "no". Many people will have opinions like "no, but instead..." or "yes, but only under condition..." on various issues. The only political system where you can guarantee that any decision will match the opinion of the constituents is direct democracy. But direct democracy also has a couple issues which make it impractical in the real world.

Political parties can only achieve a non-negligible number of votes when they find a large group of people who have a combination of multiple stances which is underrepresented in the parliament and don't fundamentally disagree on any more relevant issues which are properly represented in the parliament. I experienced this myself. I was a member of a small party which initially scooped up a large number of people who cared about issues which got mostly ignored by the established parties. We had some moderate political success in the first few years. But then we had to find a consensus on the "big questions" which weren't part of our core issues but were the main differences between the established parties. We couldn't. This lead to lots of ugly infighting and finally to the de-facto self-destruction of the party.

So, what can you do as an ordinary citizen when you think that a certain non-mainstream issue is underrepresented in your parliament?

Are you sure it's actually underrepresented?

The "no party matches your opinion 100%" rule also applies to representatives. Almost every member of the parliament will have a few issues where they disagree with the official party line. Those can be recruited for your cause. Other politicians might not have really thought about the issue. They will say they follow their party line if you ask them now. That's the nice thing about being in a party: When you haven't really thought about an issue yet and get put on the spot, you just look up what the experts in your party are saying about it and quote their opinion. But if you force politicians to actually think about an issue, they might form an opinion on their own. That opinion might differ from the party line if they are presented with good arguments or if they notice that a large part of their constituents also disagree with the party line. If most people in a party change their opinion, the whole party line might change.

So what can you do?

  • Write a letter to your representative where you explain your arguments and ask them to reconsider their opinion on a certain topic.
  • Form an interest group which uses peaceful protesting and information campaigns to call attention to certain issues and force political parties to take a side. Some parties might side with you just do differentiate themselves from the competition.
  • Interesting. You are correct. Actually the question should be why some voting bloc is under represented. But if why some issue is under represented your answer is correct. What issued you try to raise by the way?
    – user4951
    Apr 22 '18 at 5:42

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