Zambian Committee Seeks Larger Parliament, New Election System

Sept. 11, 2009, midnight

Zambia's constitutional convention voted last week to increase Parliament from 158 to 240 members and change from first-past-the-post (FPP) elections to a parallel system. Under the new rules, 200 members will be elected in single-member constituencies, 30 will be elected under list proportional representation (PR), and the President will be allowed to appoint up to 10. Under the old rules, 150 members were elected in single-seat constituencies, and the President was allowed to appoint eight. Supporters of the change argue the PR seats will boost representation of women and young people, while increasing the number of FPP seats will decrease the sizes of rural districts, improving links between voters and their representatives. Opponents argue that the PR seats will permit candidates who lose in districts to take office and that gender representation will not necessarily improve without requiring parties to stagger their lists with women.

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