[EM] Re: PR not representing median voter, and a system using best of PR and single seat.
cryptor at zipworld.com.au
Wed Jul 23 06:33:02 PDT 2003
>Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 04:08:30 +0200 (CEST)
>From: =?iso-8859-1?q?Kevin=20Venzke?= <stepjak at yahoo.fr>
>To: election-methods at electorama.com
>Subject: [EM] lobbyists not legislators; PR and the median
>On a different subject, I'm wary of PR generally, because I'm not confident that
>the median voter is likely to be represented... Do "median parties" really exist?
>I want the electoral (and constitutional) method to guarantee that the median voter
>has a veto. (If it were possible, I would like to give a veto to every voter in
>a certain central chunk.)
>stepjak at yahoo.fr
The solution is quite simple. One house elected by single seat method
(preferably Condorcet to represent middle ground) and one house elected
by proportional represention. This is close to what we have in
Australia, in the upper house, 12 seats per state, 6 re-elected each
election using optional party list STV (electors can choose whether to
tick the party box or number preferences themselves, about 99% tick the
party list box). The lower house are single seat electorates with equal
population, elected via IRV. Its not Condorcet, but its better than
plurality (loses monotonicity, but gains clone-proofness, and removes
the lesser of two evil problem in voters minds).
A condorcet single seat lower house guarentees representation for the
middle ground. It would produce a strong and stable government around
the centre of political thinking (to the exclusion of non-centre
representation). Because of this, the lower house would be the driving
force of policy. The upper house, proportionally represented, would act
as a house of review. The government is unlikely to have a majority in
the upper house (particularly if the centre doesn't do as well in
proportional representation elections as you implied). Yes, extremists
will be in the upper house, but in my opinion, extremists aren't a
problem, as they only gain as many seats as the proportion of extreme
people in your society. And if you've got a large proportion of extreme
people in society, there's bigger issues to worry about. The upper house
will provide a diversity of opinion, not only in the political sence,
but also in the cultural sence, as parties a more likely to run a mixed
range of candidates to attract maximum votes. It won't be stable, but it
doesn't need to be, the lower house is the stable house. The worse that
can happen if the upper house goes nuts is that nothing will happen, and
similar if the government wants too much power, as the upper house will
block. Both of these situations are not good, but nothing happening is a
lot better than bad things happening.
The situation described above is similar to the situation in Australia,
except because the lower house is elected via IRV instead of Condorcet,
hence it is slightly off-centre (as its advantagous to be off centre in
IRV, to avoid the early elimation due to being "squashed in the middle
with not enough first preferences" effect).
One point I should make that I don't believe that has been brought into
this debate is that PR methods do not elect independents. In my recent
state election, with 100 lower house single seats elected using IRV, and
20 upper house seats elected using STV, 7 independents won lower house
seats, no independents won upper house seats. I think independents are
great for the political process, as they are usually high community
spirited people who care for the people they represent. Only big parties
have the resources to malipulate public opinion on a mass scale.
Independents generally only have to resources to do some door knocking
in their area. However, if an independent connects with a large minority
of 40,000 or so voters he represents in each electorate in my state, he
can beat the major parties. This is next to impossible in a proportional
representation election, even if the quota is similar to a majority in a
single seat election, simply because independents have so much more
competition, and my states results support that fact. Note that also,
the government gained around 60% of the seats in the lower house, hence
the necessity of a proportionally represented upper house as a check on
government power. Note that minor parties gained no seats in the lower
house, but enough seats to hold the balance of power in the upper house.
In summary, mixed systems, particularly with separate houses provide.
Geographical representation (lower house) AND ideological representation
Potential for independents to gain seats (lower house).
Potential for minor parties to gain seats (upper house).
Protection from extremist forces (due to centralist lower house).
Protection from power hungry government (due to diverse non-government
controled upper house)
A strong stable centralist government (lower house).
An effective house of review, due to diverse opinion (upper house).
I don't see what could be advantageous about single house systems over
dual ones? Possibly the lack of potential for blocking government
legistation, and if your the Chinese government, that may be a
disadvantage. Modern democracies however have safeguards because they
realise its better to get nothing done than potentially destroy the
freedom and fabric of society. More seats aren't particularly nessecary,
the upper house could get by with quite a few magnetudes less that the
lower house. And even though its preferable, you don't really need
another room, the upper and lower house could share as long as they
agree not to make a mess. Despite all this, I see people arguing whether
single seat or PR is better. Its a typical "lesser of two evils
argument", because both options are bad, and not many seems to waste
their plurality argument on the better "use a duel system with separate
houses". But if people started, it might just get up.
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