[EM] STV district magnitude

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Fri Jul 18 16:54:19 PDT 2003

James Gilmour said:
> There is more to effective representation and effective democracy than
> maximised PR.  If the maximal PR has adverse effects, I am quite
> prepared to see the PR restricted - though I prefer to see that done
> through some logical determination of district magnitude rather than an
> arbitrary threshold.

Excellent point.  This is true irrespective of the PR method used.  I
might add that a reasonable district size will also keep the
representatives closer to those they represent, and will keep the focus in
elections more on the individual candidates because the field of
candidates won't be as crowded.

> I did make any value judgements.  No small minority view is "invalid" or
> "wrong", though I may disagree with it profoundly, just as I may
> disagree profoundly with a large minority view or the majority view.
> However, no one can deny that the views of the very smallest groups
> usually are "extremist", ie extremely different from one another and
> usually extremely different from the majority or consensus.  That does
> not make them wrong - just "extremist".

The question of representing small factions runs up against the fact that
it's impossible to run a nation on the basis of unanimity.  No decision of
the legislature will enjoy unanimous public support.  Even if we try to
get as many groups as possible represented in the decision-making process,
and even if we impose supermajority requirements for certain decisions (a
somewhat different subject) it's inevitable that some people will not get
their way.

So I don't feel too bad about leaving out the smallest factions, as long
as the vast majority of the population is represented in some fashion
(e.g. 100% of the seats held by people representing 90% of the electorate
is pretty darn good in my view).


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