[EM] IRV in action

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Mon Apr 7 00:28:03 PDT 2003

> I wrote (4 April 2003):
> > I am very sympathetic to Condorcet, but there must be serious questions
> > about the public acceptability of some of the results it is likely produce.

Markus replied
> When the voters have understood Condorcet then they will also accept
> situations where the winner has only very few first preferences.

I note your confidence, but I should like to see some evidence.  I am very aware
of all the FPTP arguments being used against us in our battles for reform here in
the UK.  IRV we might sell, but I believe we should have an almost impossible task
with Condorcet.  (Remember we failed to get IRV for the Mayor of London election
or any of the other directly elected city mayors.)   Perhaps a two-step strategy
would be best:  secure IRV and than make the case for Condorcet once we have a
clear case of "everyone's second choice" being dumped by IRV.

> Similarly, when IRV is being used then the voters will also accept
> situations where an extremist is elected because all moderate
> candidates have been eliminated at earlier stages.

Are there examples of this from real public IRV elections?  But if this happens it
will reflect the wishes of the voters.  I know there will be howls from many
others on this list and a flood of theoretical examples to show me the error of my
ways.  But if it does happen in real election with real voters who behave as real
voters do, I would find it hard to argue against the validity of that result.

> ******
> I wrote (5 April 2003):
> > Once the major parties saw the effect of the Condorcet system, their
> > supporters would "bullet vote" only for the parties' candidates.

Markus replied
> I guess that for every reasonable method there are situations where
> "bullet voting" is a useful strategy. I guess that when IRV is being
> used and there are three potential winners, then each party will
> ask their supporters to bullet vote.

Why would they do that?  How could it help secure the election of their candidate?
As Anthony said in a subsequent post, the parties would court another party to try
to persuade it to recommend its supporters to mark their second preferences for
the first party's candidate.  This happens in most real IRV elections, even when
there are only two likely winners.  The lead parties seek the support of the minor
parties and sometimes agree significant concessions to secure that support.  This
gives the minor parties undue influence.  It is a powerful argument against
electing parliaments and councils by IRV in single-member districts rather than by
STV-PR in multi-member districts, but that's a different issue.


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