[EM] some July 4 comments

Chris Benham chrisbenham at bigpond.com
Sat Jul 5 04:26:04 PDT 2003

Adam Tarr wrote:
 "...Australia's  upper house..is the only one that uses IRV"
This is the wrong way round, only the "lower"  house (the one on which 
the government is based) uses IRV. It is called the House of 
Representatives  and the other house is called the Senate and it is made 
up of an equal numbers of members from each State, elected using the 
Hare-Clarke PR method.
One of the things I strongly object to from the "IRV is nearly as bad as 
Plurality" Approval proponents , is that they obsessively focus on the 
number of  seat-winning/competitive parties a method  encourages/allows 
and  seem to assume that all  2-major party systems are equivalent. 
Assuming for a moment that a political landscape dominated by 2 major 
parties  is a normal and happy situation, isn't it VERY important that 
 the party which is prefered by an absolute majority is the winner ? 
 Also with IRV  the major parties are under more pressure to avoid being 
 challenged and maybe eventually supplanted  by  rivals from the same 
And of course not all  one-party systems are equivalent either. If the 
method was Condorcet  in single seats each with approx. the same number 
of electors, an insitutional anti-gerrymander in place, no corruption 
and a regular high turn-out  and the (unlikely) result was that a 
sinlgle party dominates by staking out the centre then arguably that is 
a much better scenario than the present  Republicrat "two"-party  system 
in the US  today.
I  strongly support  PR.  I  agree that  Adam's IRV  "nightmare" IRV 
example  is  conclusively damning, especially  as it is political 
spectrum based with everybody voting sincerely/plausibly. And yet on 
balance I prefer IRV to  Approval (which to my mind is fundamentally silly).
Recently while contemplating IRV and Coombs, I  thought of a new (to 
me)  method as a joke which may not really be so bad.
At each round, have an elimination runoff between the candidate with the 
fewest first preferences and the candidate with the most last 
preferences. ("Elimination Runoff" ?)
Adam wrote "..the Democrats and the Republicans are quite distinct on a 
range of issues". mmm...Haven't you seen that  funny  "Rage against the 
Machine" video ?  I think maybe you have a good microscope !

Chris Benham

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