John Stuart Mill and Proportional Representation

How to Ensure Political Equality in a Representative Democracy

Katie Gower

In his analysis of representative democracy and its demerits, English philosopher and economist John Stuart Mill proposes a solution to address the political inequality that often proliferates in representative systems. Mill argues for proportional representation, a type of representation encompassing multiple methods that ensure minority groups are represented. Through his political and philosophical analysis of Mill’s book “Considerations on Representative Government”, a compelling argument for proportional representation can be derived. Political representation is a critical subject within the field of political science, and understanding the many forms and methods of representation allows political scientists to evaluate the political freedom of individuals within a democracy, how well the individuals are truly represented, and how effective, or ineffective, the method of political representation renders the government and society as a whole.

The ideal of a true democracy, in which all of the people are represented equally, can be difficult to achieve, and political scientists and philosophers have strived to find solutions to this problem. Mill believed that this problem, and two additional weaknesses within democracies, can be solved by addressing the method of representation within that democracy.

Proportional representation creates a solution to two dangers of democracy as identified by Mill: 1)T the inaptitude of the ruling body, and 2),The interests of said ruling body diverting from the interests of the people.

As Mill argues, proportional representation creates a number of benefits for both the individual and the democracy as a whole. By analyzing its merits, further understanding of democracy and the importance of representation can be established.