Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Dizzy's electoral recall idea

Dizzy has today posted a suggestion which, in the light of all the expenses shenanigans going on at the moment is perhaps timely. He suggests that it should be possible in certain circumstances for an MP to be called to stand for re-election in his/her consitituency using an electoral recall mechanism.

I know that this sort of thing is done in the US. Indeed, as I recall it is the mechanism that was used to get Arnold Schwarzenegger in as Governor of California.

The point of this sort of facility is to make sure that you cannot have a situation whereby somebody is elected as an MP, within say 6 months does something that would make lots of the people who elected them disgusted and can then sit back safe in the knowledge that they cannot be touched for another 3 or 4 years until parliament is next dissolved. The current system is anti-democratic.

As Dizzy also points out there would be risks with a system like this that an MP could be called upon to constantly re-fight for his/her seat by vexatious opponents, but it is surely not beyond the wit of man to come up with a system that allows recall in warranted circumstances.

If anybody knows of a good reason not to have something like this, perhaps they could comment. I cannot think of one at the moment.


Bernard Salmon said...

Recall in California has led to a mess where they find it difficult to sort out their budgets, as support for higher taxes and spending cuts will often result in recall moves - that was why they got rid of Arnie's predecessor. Recall might well have the effect of making good government more difficult.

The Half-Blood Welshman said...

A good point Bernard Salmon BUT - crucial point - California elect governors directly. One MP being recalled would not rock the power politics of the nation in the way a gubernatorial election would - only if several hundred were recalled at once.

The obvious catch is that it might lead to endless recalls of unpopular cabinet ministers, which certainly would render effective government much more difficult - no MP fighting a marginal would be able to become a Minister, for a start. The model Dizzy proposed also looked a bit cumbersome (why bother with a referendum? The by-election should be the referendum)!

How about a slight modification - recall to apply only in the event of 1) criminal proceedings 2) suspension from the House of Commons for misconduct, and then only in the event of 10% of the electoral register signing a petition in two months.

I appreciate that makes it more cumbersome, but still...might be an idea with mileage in it.