How do democracies other than the US handle changes to district maps?

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The Politicus
Sep 23, 2021 02:57 PM 0 Answers
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Every representative democracy needs to have some method of dividing up territory into districts such that the people within that district can choose someone to represent their interests to the state or national government. Those same maps also need to be periodically updated to reflect demographic changes as people move around or as new people register to vote. In the U.S. this process has become deeply political, and the party in power when the maps are redrawn will try to make those maps as favorable to themselves as possible. Even in cases where they can't gain seats outright, the districts will often be drawn in such a way that they concentrate people of a particular political preference, creating 'safe' districts where the only meaningful challenge to a representative can come from their own party.

The obvious solution would seem to be taking the process out of the hands of elected representatives, but that comes with its own problems. How do you choose the people to update the maps? Appointed positions run the risk of corruption or of simply becoming political prizes the way supreme court nominations are now. If it is a hired position (say a division of the census department) you run the risk of breeding mistrust and resentment since people tend to be suspicious of unelected bureaucrats with no oversight. Relying on a computer algorithm just shifts the problem around, someone still has to write and update the software.

This seems like a fundamental problem, but it isn't something I have seen discussed as a hot button topic outside the U.S. How do other democratic systems handle this issue? What are the trade-offs of those solutions? Are there particular pros and cons to these alternatives that make them better suited to a particular political system? Would they still work if applied to a U.S. style system with only two major parties?

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  • September 23, 2021