From the Yemen Times:
In 1993, the newborn Republic of Yemen held its first multiparty parliamentary elections. A year earlier, in August 1992, a commission called the Yemeni Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) was formed to observe and run the elections. It is considered the Arab worldâ€™s first permanent, independent election commission.
Until now, as an elections mechanism â€“ whether local council, parliament or presidential â€“ Yemen has used whatâ€™s known as plurality voting or the plurality system, whereby the candidate with the most votes wins. As it is, each electoral system has its advantages and disadvantages, and some would argue that continuing to use the plurality system and the same voter registration mechanism might not be the best option for democracy in Yemen.
The bulk of the piece is a basic (and pretty good) primer on the ways in which the electoral system of plurality rule often violates the democratic principle of majority rule, and covers open and closed lists, STV, and other systems. It even covers SNTV and notes that the system could be called “pseudo-proportional.” I have never heard that before, but it is much more accurate as a description of SNTV (and its close relatives, limited vote and cumulative vote) than the oft-heard semi-proportional.
Unfortunately, the author of the piece completely punts on the question of “mixed” systems. Not only does he not go into the critical distinction between MMM and MMP, but he suggests:
For example, a state with a bicameral parliament may choose a winner-take-all system for elections to the lower body and a variant of proportional representation for elections to the upper body.
Well, sure, one could (and some do), but that’s not what we usually mean by the term, mixed (-member).
With the cooperation of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and various Yemeni NGOs, there has been an ongoing review of Yemen’s electoral system.
The teams faced several challenges, including a number of citizens who didnâ€™t understand the importance of voter registration and participating in the political process.
One woman asked, â€œIf we canâ€™t select our husband, how can we select the president of the country?â€
Unfortunately, the article comes to no real conclusions about electoral reform in Yemen. At one point, it seems to point towards open-list PR. At another point, it seems content with the current FPTP system, despite acknowledging that it has contributed to big distortions in representation, such as in 1997, when:
all MPs got 55 percent of all votes cast and 33.7 percent of all registered eligible voters.
Moreover, the study the article summarizes notes that current practice “strengthens the executive branch at the expense of the legislature.”
In any event, at least some folks are thinking about the electoral system in Yemen.