The Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) hosted an Electoral systems and coalitions workshop at Deloitte in Cape Town on Friday, 9 December 2022. The workshop was delivered in a hybrid format with in-person attendance and others joining via Zoom.
The presenters at the workshop were Professor Jørgen Elklit, a professor of political science at Aarhus University in Denmark, an electoral systems expert and advisor on democratisation and elections, electoral systems, and electoral administration in a number of countries, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Afghanistan, China (village elections), Kenya, Tanzania, Lesotho, Jordan, South Africa and his native Denmark; and Mark Garrett, Director General of the Irish Law Society, who previously worked as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Irish Labour Party, Eamon Gilmore, from 2008 to 2014.
Prof Elklit shared his knowledge with regard to electoral systems around the globe, the pros and cons of each and the systems best suited for diverse societies such as South Africa. He emphasised the importance of multi-member constituencies for ensuring inclusion and diversity and which held the best prospect for independent candidates to being elected; and the dangers of single seat constituency, which could lead to one party dominating the constituency component of a proportional representation system. He also introduced the idea of automatic voter registration.
Mark Garrett, in turn, shared his vast experience with regard to the Irish political systems, which has for decades now been dominated by coalition politics. He discussed the need for trust and generosity as the basis for any successful coalition.