Letter: German lesson

Sir: The German election results finally expose the lie that under proportional representation the electorate cannot rid itself of a government it doesn't like, but perhaps more importantly they expose what is perhaps the true reason for Labour's dithering on electoral reform - would it be too paranoid to say they are afraid of the Greens?

By pulling their true electoral weight over the years, the German Greens have forced the federal government to act on the environment. Far from hurting the German economy, as was originally feared, legislation on clean air (for example) has actually stimulated new economic growth, and German anti-pollution equipment is now exported all over the world.

In Britain, the birthplace of environmental politics, the Greens regularly receive 2 to 5 per cent of the vote but no seats, allowing successive governments to backslide on the environment.

Under the current system, we saw a weak Tory government held to ransom by the Ulster Unionists, which almost dished the peace process. Under PR we could see a British government forced to improve the environment in order to stay in power. I know which I would prefer.

CHARLES HARRIS

London NW3

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