[EM] PR-Squared, SMP, and related matters

Wiseman, Julian julian.wiseman at csfb.com
Tue Aug 3 03:08:29 PDT 1999

Yes, I am aware of such a coalition in a non-PR country. 

One is called the Labour Party. This UK coalition includes hard-left
anti-American militants, centrist christian-democrat types, and
ideology-free individuals motivated by power. 

Another is called the Conservative Party, this being a mixture of
Hayek-style free-marketeers, centrist christian-democrat types (again),
faded imperialists still mourning the Empire, neo-Imperialists disliking
American prosperity and seeking power in Europe. 

>From time to time, the UK electorate deems one of these coalitions to be
non-viable (Labour 1983, Conservatives 1997) and turfs them out. (Nice
feature of SMP and PR^2: governments can be completely turfed out.)

> -----Original Message-----
> From:	Blake Cretney [SMTP:bcretney at postmark.net]
> Sent:	Monday, August 02, 1999 9:31 PM
> To:	election-methods-list at eskimo.com
> Subject:	Re: [EM] PR-Squared, SMP, and related matters
> election-methods-list at eskimo.com
> Re: [EM] PR-Squared, SMP, and related matters
> Wiseman, Julian wrote:
> > Blake Cretney has written a good commentary on PR-Squared
> > (http://www.jdawiseman.com/papers/electsys.html). In particular, I agree
> > that supporters of SMP haven't reconciled the local and the national
> > plurality requirements: this realisation was one of the inspirations of
> > PR-Squared. 
> > 
> > Blake Cretney's last point is most interesting. Three parties A B C, in
> > which A supports some particular policy opposed by B and C. They split
> the
> > vote 42:35:23. The people have voted 42:58 against the policy, yet A has
> the
> > majority required to implement it (squares are 1764 1225 529, giving A a
> > minimal majority of 1764:1754 = 50.14%:49.86%). This seems like an
> > objection, but isn't. 
> > 
> > There are two possibilities. Either B and C disagree about other
> policies,
> > or they don't. 
> > 
> > If B and C disagree, then the people are choosing between portfolios of
> > policies. If there are 10 yes/no policies, and many fewer than 2^10
> parties,
> > it is highly likely that some majority policies will not be favoured by
> the
> > winning part / coalition. Inevitable in representative democracy. 
> People's opinions on individual policies tend to be rather dependent
> on each other.  Otherwise, political labels like liberal,
> conservative, socialist would be meaningless.  I think, therefore,
> that it is not necessary to have a party representing every possible
> combination of opinions in order to allow a legislature which is
> representative of the public, and will therefore vote much as the
> public would, if the public had the time and ability to research every
> issue fully.
> Your argument seems to be that since some difference between majority
> opinion and government action is inevitable, we should abandon the
> expectation that there should be any connection.
> Returning to my earlier example:
> Percentage  Square  Party   Stand on Policy    
> 42          1764    A       For
> 32          1024    B       Against
> 26           676    C       Against
> Let me point out that although I prefer to discuss in terms of
> imaginary parties and policies, so that the discussion stays focussed
> on the electoral issues, it is not the case that examples like the
> above are uncommon in the real world.  An example occurred in Canada,
> where the Conservative party favoured the Free Trade agreement, while
> the Liberal and NDP opposed.  Although the election was campaigned
> mainly on this issue, no one would mistake the NDP and Liberals for
> the same party.  Often parties win majority governments to implement
> programs which are disliked by the majority.  This was not a
> particularly bad case, just a particularly obvious one, because the
> election was campaigned largely on a single issue.
> > But what if B and C agree on all or most policies. Then PR-Squared
> provides
> > a massive incentive to form the inevitable coalition before the
> election,
> > where it will be visible to voters, rather than after. It gives them a
> > massive incentive to resolve their few remaining policy desputes before
> the
> > election, rather than after, so that voters can see the choices. B & C
> > should get on with it NOW, and if their coalition is deemed plausible by
> the
> > voters, to win by a storming 42:58 => 34.4%:65.6% majority. So much mroe
> > democratic than have B and C sit down, post election, to negotiate egos
> > versus polciies. 
> Are you aware of an example of such a coalition occurring in a non-PR
> country?  Of course, parties always represent coalitions of interests,
> but this kind of pre-election strategic coalition appears to be very
> rare.  I wouldn't count on it to ensure majority rule.
> ---
> Blake Cretney

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