[EM] Stability WITHIN legislatures

ECOLING at aol.com ECOLING at aol.com
Mon Aug 23 07:28:57 PDT 1999

On stable PR and coalition goverments,
recent discussion:

Isn't the problem created by the way in which
coalitions are created, and this true also of systems
like the US Congress?

The major near-center parties
tend to exclude the other nearest competitor,
form coalitions with the more extreme parties
on their own areas of the political spectrum?

Instead of SOME members of each of the near-center
parties combining together to form a stable governing

STABLE in the sense that it avoids wild swings
of policy depending on a fraction of a percentage change
in popular votes for parties,
STABLE in the sense that because it is the real center,
a few individuals dropping out of the coalition or adding
to it will be random, and all the margins of the center,
and will not affect it?

To achieve this, do we not need to enter frankly into 
a discussion of rules for operation WITHIN legislatures...

rules requiring that the "speaker" or prime minister be
a condorcet winner, NOT chosen secondarily by a winning party
so as to be pushed far from the center of the legislature's
membership, but rather a centrist who is trusted by all points of view
to be fair and non-manipulative?

rules such as requiring all alternative proposals on the same
topic to be considered simultaneously (with preference voting
of the appropriate type), rather than manipulating a sequence
of pairwise or up-or-down votes that prevent certain alternatives
from being considered, often the more central ones?

I do not think this is unrealistic to discuss, 
in a context in which the people are increasingly sceptical about
parties which seem to be more interested in their own welfare than
in the welfare of their nation...

Currently, we discuss how to improve elections to legislatures,
but then seem to take for granted that within the legislatures,
we shall have law of the jungle, with all of the same evils
completely unaddressed.

Seems to me, overt discussion of this has advantages, 
in that it promotes stability more than anything else we can do,
it resonates with popular perceptions of current problems,
dislike of sudden big swings in policy, 
it does not require one to argue in any way against a two-party
system, because it has all of those advantages, and does promote
stable cooperation (the most cogent argument of those in favor of
two-party systems rather than multi-party systems).

The ONLY disadvantage I know of,
is if one considers that some alternation of policies is desirable,
so a country can experiment ... 
but the place for that would seem to be better in the individual states
of a federal system, where possible, grant them more freedom
to experiment in legitimate ways, 
and in the compromises that a stable centrist-led leadership
of a legislatures would tend to craft or permit to be crafted,
finding balanced middle grounds.

And of course, in the loss of some drama,
artificial conflicts created by the structure of the legislature
or the election systems.  

I feel confident our news media can find other sources of
entertainment and drama.  Our well-being does not depend
on artificially hyped-up conflict in our legislatures.

Lloyd Anderson

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list