Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

The World’s Most Powerful Citizens

April 14th, 2009 · 3 Comments

niueMicrokhan’s been reading everything under the Sun regarding the forthcoming Indian election, a true marvel of democracy. Yesterday’s fodder was this New York Times bit on the growing political enthusiasm of India’s urban elite. Buried amidst the reporting was a rather gobsmacking fact: only 543 members of the nation’s parliament are directly elected by the people. (This presumably refers solely to the Lok Sabha, or lower house of parliament; the upper house is indirectly elected, a bit like the United States Senate before the 17th Amendment.)

Given India’s ginormous population, that seems like a pretty miniscule number of political reps. In fact, a quick back-of-the-envelope calculation reveals that each Indian enjoys a Political Power Unit (PPU) of just 0.000000473. (A PPU, which Microkhan just made up over coffee, is number of elected representatives divided by total population.) An American, by contrast, is blessed with a PPU of 0.00000176. Joe Q. Swede? That tall, blond lucky ducky gets a PPU of 0.000386.

But no political entity on Earth can compare with Niue. Though the island nation isn’t entirely independent—New Zealand handles its foreign affairs and defense—Niue is essentially autonomous, with its own constitution and parliament. That legislative body consists of 20 people—small by most standards, but mighty large considering that Niue’s population is under 1,400. That means a Niuean enjoys a PPU of 0.0143—by far the biggest on the planet, at least according to Microkhan’s relatively cursory research.

If anyone can think of another nation that can beat Niue in terms of PPUs, please advise. Don’t even bother suggesting Andorra—Microkhan ran the numbers, and it’s way behind Niue.

(Image from Going Postal T-Shirts)


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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    Pitcairn Island would have Niue beat by a mile, but it’s in that grey zone of being a British overseas territory. They’re not fully independent, but they do elect their own legislative body.

  • Brendan I. Koerner

    Wow, excellent suggestion. Just looked it up. It’s a judgment call, but they do have a constitution. Will investigate and perhaps post later this week.

  • The Mutineers’ Revenge

    […] Yesterday’s post about Political Power Units (PPUs) and the Polynesian island of Niue attracted a few dissenting e-mails. These correspondents argued that Microkhan got it wrong by a country mile, and that Niueans are political weaklings when compared to their South Pacific neighbors: Niue, powerful? Don’t make me laugh, O Mighty Microkhan. By contrast, I give you Pitcairn Island: 48 descendants of the HMS Bounty’s beleaguered Captain Fletcher Christian. 10 of them serve on the Island Council; 5 of these are elected by popular vote.[See the CIA Factbook for more info—ed.] […]