In a party system, which virtually all contemporary democracies practice, legislative decisions are made by a simple numeric majority regardless of party affiliation of the voters. Systems where the head of state must have a parliamentary majority are in fact in breach of the democratic principle of dividing power between the three branches of government – judiciary, legislative and executive. In such systems the executive branch can have virtually unlimited authority, which it uses, more often than not, to advance and express narrow socio-political agenda.
One way to remedy the problem without changing election systems is to utilize the fact that the party system is the instrument through which society expresses its main socio-political differences. If we accept that the party system creates a decent approximation of society’s opinions, and that majority is the best way for the society to arrive at decisions, and that those decisions need be an expression of what the people as a whole prefer, than we can ensure that proposals for legislations become more representative of the society by changing the definition of majority into an all-parties majority, or representative majority. Simply put, in order to pass a proposal into law, a piece of legislation must gain majority of all represented parties’ members in a parliament.
The mechanism of such a system is simple enough. Assume a parliament has 135 seats and 3 parties C, L, D, where C has 70 seats, L has 50 seats and D 15. In such a system, a majority required to pass a legislation must minimally include 36 C’s, 26 L’s and 8 D’s, which combined – 36+26+8=70 – still provides a numeric majority but, unlike current systems, it is a much better representation of the various agendas within a society.
In the ‘winner takes all’ mentality currently predominating our understanding of democracy such a possibility seem far-fetched, naïve, even un-democratic in a culture that accepts politics as a struggle rather than a dialog, a culture in which the question of who is in power overshadows, by far, the questions of how power is being utilized, to what ends, and who are the beneficiaries of such utilization. Regardless, unless one accepts democratic activity within a society as something that need be exercised only once every several years in a general election, the continual expression of differences in decision making processes is a far better interpretation of representative democracy than the simplistic partisan politics existing today. While there can be no guaranty that representative majority would have the desired effect of governmental policies becoming representative of the society as a whole rather than the partisan and often fragmentary ones that predominate today, it might be instrumental in introducing some level of legislative dialogs that do not exist at all or are very ineffective in achieving any satisfactory level of modifying cooperation between parties and the various philosophies they represent. Democratically speaking, it stands a far better chance of rightfully delegating general election in a representative democracy as the determiner of the executive branch and the expression of socio-political trends within the society, and at the same time preserve the notion that legislative activity should not be partisan-centric but require the on-going dialog between those trends.
Representative democracy is a very poor democratic form since, among others, it lacks any satisfactory mechanisms to enforce democratic principles on authority beyond a general election once every few years. The principle of representative majority can, in the least, curb the currently unfettered power and authority exercised by governments today by forcing policies modifications that would satisfy the majority in all represented socio-political factions.