[EM] re: Brazil

Kevin Venzke stepjak at yahoo.fr
Wed Jul 16 17:29:01 PDT 2003

I'm surprised the response is uniformly so skeptical.  I will try to clarify
a few things.

By no means was I trying to indirectly criticize PR or STV.

In Brazil you can only vote for one candidate.  That means you have no control
over which other candidates you're helping to elect.  No doubt the system would
be much improved if you could give a ranking.  (It might also be better with smaller
districts; I think they elect over 15 members on average.)

You (not sure who I'm addressing actually) say it is a good thing that people
vote based on the individuals, and I agree with that.  The problem is that an
INDIVIDUAL doesn't earn the representation corresponding to his earned votes,
he just gets a single seat.  If he gets "surplus" votes they work to elect
other candidates from that party.

The parties don't stand for much because they can't discipline their candidates.
What I mean is, it doesn't make sense for a party to "oust" a person if that
person is capable of bringing votes to the party.  This tends to make the parties
primarily alliances to get candidates elected, without specific policy ideas.
Party-switching, once elected, is common.  So although, as James said, the parties 
nominate the candidates, the parties are not generally the ones with the clout.

Did anyone else study Brazil in Comparative Politics?  I'm regurgitating all this.
I'll try to back it up if someone genuinely disagrees with this.

It's possible I'm confusing the method for the effects of the method in a certain
(Brazilian) context.  In that context, the method seems to me quite bad because
the proportionality is among parties which may not stand for any particular

Adam Tarr said:
>>Parties can't discipline candidates because parties aren't what earn votes.
>To me, that is an unqualified positive - strong party discipline in closed 
>party list democracies prevents the voters from getting candidates who 
>match their views more closely than a standard party platform.

The side-effect is that (in Brazil, IMO) it's not a safe bet to "transfer"
votes automatically to party mates.  Note that a voter has no way of preventing
his surplus vote from being used, and at least in Brazil, the voter may not
even know his candidate's party (there's little incentive for the candidate to 
focus on it).

Incidentally, the main party on the left is supposed to be well-organized, and
based on policy rather than "local interests."

Kevin Venzke
stepjak at yahoo.fr

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