[EM] The responsiveness of Condorcet

Dgamble997 at aol.com Dgamble997 at aol.com
Sun Jul 13 05:12:36 PDT 2003

James Gilmour wrote:

"All that David's post confirms is that NO single winner system should be
used to elect a mulit-member committee, council, assembly or parliament
if that body is supposed to be representative of those who voted in its
election. If that is the objective (one I would strongly support), you
should use a voting system designed for that purpose.

IRV and Condorcet are designed for single-winner situations and neither
should be condemned because they fail to give good or consistent PR in
multi-winner elections."
In James Armytage-Green's post he refers to a scenario in which Congress is 
elected in single-member districts by Condorcet.  This is what a number of 
people posting on this list appear to support  ( though James Armytage-Green  
supports CPO-STV in multi-member districts as an ideal method). 

I have stated in several postings that there can be nothing proportional 
about the allocation of a single seat and that all single-member methods can 
produce bad results when used to elect multi-member bodies.

The point of the post was to illustrate that under IRV to get a similar bad 
(disproportional) result the Centre party has at least to get a reasonable 
proportion of first preference support. Under Condorcet a party perceived as 
centrist could win a majority with a small percentage of the first preferences.

I still believe that for single offices Condorcet is too favourable towards 
candidates of  parties who successfully position themselves in the centre.

Alex Small wrote :

"However, as long as you stick to single-member districts, the centrist
dominance is probably the most desirable result. Suppose the legislature
were divided 40% left, 40% right, 20% center, and this distribution more
or less reflect the percentage of voters favoring each party. On any
given issue, the center would hold the balance of power. Now, if you got
a legislature with a centrist majority by using Condorcet, the end result
is the same. It's not the fairest way to achieve that result (PR is,
IMHO) but it's not a drastic distortion of what the final legislative
product would have been either."

Domination by any single party be it of the left, right or centre is not a 
good thing.

Alex also wrote:

"Next, about the Liberal Democrats: I understand that in Europe, many
political parties, be they left, right, or other, include the word
"Democrats" in their name. I also understand that in the UK the word
"liberal" does not really denote "left" as it does in the US. I read the
Economist, and the editors use the word "liberal" to denote free markets
and civil liberties. So, am I correct in assuming that the Liberal
Democrats in the UK are not at all what America's liberal Democrats would
be? Is their platform more of a mix of free markets and social

Regarding the names of European political parties Democrat has little meaning 
other than that the party supports Democracy. In Germany the major party on 
the left is the Social Democrats and the major party on the right is the 
Christian Democrats. 

Liberal in the context of British politics ( but not necessarily those of 
continental Europe) has the same meaning as in America. With regard to economics 
it can be used to denote a free market approach.

The Liberal Democrats ( and previously the Social Democrat/ Liberal Alliance 
and the Liberal party the two groupings that preceded them) have traditionally 
presented themselves as being equidistant from Conservative and Labour and 
have generally been perceived as that ( centrist )  by voters. Liberal Democrat 
party members/ activists and Liberal party members/ activists before them, 
however would probably consider their party as a radical, reforming party of the 
non-socialist left. Though a position of equidistance was officially 
maintained for many years between Conservatives and Labour many Liberal Democrat party 
members would have found a coalition with the Conservatives  completely 

Radical free market ideas in Britain are associated with the Conservatives in 
general and the Conservative right in particular and were only really 
prominent during Margaret Thatcher's period as Conservative leader.

David Gamble



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