Strange majority

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On Sunday the people of Tunisia decided who would be their next president (your report, 22 December). The winner may not be the person a majority of voters would have preferred but he will be the candidate the majority found least objectionable.

Contrast this with the way our next prime minister will emerge next May. The general election is not a nationwide poll but 660 or so separate elections.

The winner in most constituencies will have received less than half the votes cast and without proportional representation or a second ballot, could be the candidate the majority certainly did not want.

These winners then assemble as the new House of Commons. The party that can command the most votes there, either alone or in coalition, forms the new government. It may or may not have garnered a majority of the votes cast throughout the country; indeed it might have polled fewer than the main opposition party.

No matter – the leader of the sole or largest party of government becomes the new prime minister. The membership of even the largest party is minuscule compared with the total population but they alone have a voice in choosing, by whatever arcane procedures their rules prescribe, the party leader.

So either David Cameron or Ed Miliband will be prime minister, invested with a degree of power many presidents would envy.

Which of these two systems of selecting the leader of a country do you think best approximates to the democratic ideal?

S Beck

Craigleith Drive