Counsel for the Minister of Home Affairs, advocate Steven Budlender SC has argued for the retention of the 200/200 split in the National Assembly’s 400 seats between regional and compensatory seats because it produces no overhang.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is a respondent in the Independent Candidate’s Association (ICA) challenge of the constitutionality of the Electoral Amendment Act.
The ICA contends that independents must get many more votes than a political party candidate to gain a seat in the National Assembly because they are only allowed to compete for the 200 regional seats.
It says this renders the contest unequal and proposes that the split be adjusted to 350/50 in favour of regional seats.
Budlender says that the proposal will result in a crisis that the 200/200 split does not present.
“Over the last two elections using Mr Atkins’ own report, the 350/50 split proposed produces an overhang risk of over 15 percent. Statistically, what is means is a 15 percent risk which means one in every six elections. The IEC will be confronted with a crisis which says we have 401 people entitled to seats and we only have 400,” adds Budlender.
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However, according to counsel for the Independent Candidates Association, adjusting the allocation of the National Assembly’s 400 seats to 350 for regional seats and 50 for national or so-called compensatory seats will hit the “sweet spot” of achieving proportionality and enabling equality between political parties and independents.
Citing an expert report produced by mathematics and computer science expert, the counsel for the ICA Johan De Waal, Michael Atkins says, “When we look at Atkins report, how one can see that when once reaches fifty compensatory seats – there is an insignificant risk of a one seat overhang in certain circumstances, particular permutation. But if one goes below 50 to 25 and 10, one then runs into a serious over hang risk. But the sweet spot is the 350.50 because it is that spot that brings the equality of the vote closer.”
He adds that because independents are only allowed to compete for regional seats and not so-called “compensatory seats”.
This means that parties compete for 400 seats and the independents for 200 seats resulting in an increase of the quota for independents to gain seats drastically.
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