[EM] SPPA - was STV district magnitude

Stephane Rouillon stephane.rouillon at sympatico.ca
Mon Jul 21 22:10:07 PDT 2003

I used pure PR in the sense of any method that can produce
a perfect match between popular support toward parties
and seat won by those parties, to the integral limit of not
splitting representatives appart.

James Gilmour wrote :

> Stephane wrote:
> > I do agree, but you need to prove that the adverse effects
> > are not ghosts...
> >
> > I do not think that the advantages of a "reasonable district size"
> > outcomes obviously its disadvantages when compared to pure PR
> > systems.
> You need to define "pure PR".  What is "pure"?  On what criteria?  In
> whose view?  You appear to ignore completely all the previous discussion
> in this thread and in related threads where it has been suggested there
> is more to "PR" than "PR of registered political parties".

I do agree with you to the fact that there is more to only political parties.
I would not want people voting for ideas without knowing who is
going to implement those ideas and how. I think independants are
an asset as a garantee that a person can run for office without being
linked to some oligarchy. Both this element are present in SPPA
as voters do not vote for parties but for persons (as with STV) and
independants can run (as with STV). So please precise your thoughts...
What obstacle is so unavoidable that we have to abandon PR systems
fully proportional, pure PR systems using my vocabulary, and not only
PR list systems?

> > Alex says 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."
> >
> > Geographical "closerness" is a bad thing.
> This may be your opinion.  It may even be an acceptable opinion to a
> majority of the citizens of your country.  But all I can tell you from
> more than 40 years of practical campaigning for electoral reform in the
> UK is that "closeness" matters to electors here.

I do not have your experience.

> > Yes in one hand it gives
> > an elected representative that knows the district better than others.
> > But on the other hand, it attracts several dysfunctional behaviors. It
> > attracts lobbyist not legislators.
> Where is the evidence for this?  The worst lobbyists (or the best,
> depending on your point of view) are not those who represent the people
> who live in their locality, but those whose promote single issues.

You have a local council to defend your towns problem. You do not need a local

representative when it comes to make national laws or budget. All they care
is their locality interest and to put exceptions for their perticular case.
Please try national representatives to defend national interest: it works a
lot better.
Do not believe me, make simulations and see.

> > It attracts people who want to get
> > the best to their local community,
> That surely is a laudable aim?

by itself yes, but it depends how...

> > at the detriment of the country or
> > other districts nearby if necessary.
> This is not a necessary consequence.  It suggests to me that the
> structures and functions of government at federal, state, region and
> town/city level are not adequately defined or separated.

No. It is because representative at each of these levels defend first the
interest of the
part that elected them and next the whole entity. And it is normal human
behavior as long
as the system retributes such behavior by reelecting those who do so.

> > It institutionalizes
> > ghettos,
> I cannot see that this follows at all.

When laws affecting in a specific way all rural persons in brittain are taken,

who protects the interests of that minority. The rural districts
I do not know from which political party they are, but I can tell you
they are minoritarian in the english parliament because the system of
assigns a finished number of seat to those localities. Minoritarian they are
minoritarian they will be after any election, even if they were the target of
major unfair law that would become the main subject of debates. To be elected
somewhere with geographical districts, you need to match the positions of this

district interest groups.  So if any issue can advantage a majority of these
forget defending the minority point of view about it, how unfair it is.
representative can fight such unfairness by using the minorities to make the
because they only need a small margin to beat other candidates of the same
party and get
elected.  FPTP or STV can't (except for huge STV constituencies in number of
because minority defendors need to beat the majority defendors: in the best
case they can be elected in some districts and shout, in the worse case they
lose everywhere. With SPPA
if a perticular unfairness rises in all the election, a majority of candidates
wanting to repair it
can be elected because it is the electorate that chooses the debates that

> >purshasable votes for the next metro station or the next plant
> > subvention.
> At worst, that COULD apply in any political system, but it is a
> caricature because rarely will any elected member have such power or
> influence.

No!! It is not the case with SPPA. Again I ask you as I did Alex: where in
England should
a politician put a metro station to favour the voters from the virtual
district made of the
persons born between January 6th to January 10th of any year?
Ministers do have to take such decisions, you know that very well.

> > I agree, it
> > worked like that for decades everywhere.
> I don't agree at all.
> > But if a system can offer
> > elections using principles and not interests, ideas not
> > fashions, should'nt
> > you consider this more closely.
> Yes, of course.  But in practice, most electors look to their elected
> representatives to fulfil a number of different functions
> simultaneously.  Among these are (very) local interests and national
> interests and international interests, as well as interests of many
> different kinds on political issues, social issues and ethical issues.

So use a representative from the institution that fits, using districts that
For international issues, use international comittees with internationally
people who care as much about the health of english people than tanzanians.
If it's for using english funds to help fight hunger in Tanzany, ask english
caring about all english tax payers, not the parliament member who represents
South Liverpool and maintains a city exchange for several decades with the
capital. In the same way, a missing hospital in a town should not be claimed
a representative from that locality in the parliament, it should be the job of
municipal council. Do you expect the representative to say "the people of
out there they need it first" if it is the truth?No, (s)he can't or does'nt
want to be reelected.
SPPA allows politicians to speak freely and to judge fairly. Hospital would
get where they
are most needed to the best of our knowledge, not to the best of our party
next election results...

> > Making "virtual" ridings non-geographically-based migth not
> > be considered
> > by serious electoral-reformers, and it is not going to be
> > feasible soon,
> It is complete non-starter so far as the UK is concerned.  Real electors
> want their electoral districts (ridings) to have some real meaning in a
> dimension to which they can relate.  That means their local geography at
> some scale relevant to body being elected.  Real electors would not take
> kindly to being allocated to any kind of virtual district to fulfil some
> abstract concept of "pure PR".

I know you are right. What do you think of it with your 40 years of political
Can it get sold out to them? I know some municipalites do not use geography to

give seats, because it does not matter at such low level to people having cars
and not
even knowing some direct neighbours.  In Canada, many geographical case of
conflict of
interest and (renvoi d'ascenseur) occured: moving airports, hospitals,
relocalized plants,
bridge, boat crossings, museum, unfinished highways...

> > but
> > do you see another way to remove personal interest from the
> > election process.
> I would not want to do this, so the issue does not arise.  In a system
> of representative democracy, the purpose of elections is to elect
> representatives, where "representative" should be defined in whatever
> terms the voters want.

I do not want to kill personal interest. Elected members are still there to
serve the people.
I meant to kill corruption, or at least the actually accepted part to it
coming from the
localization of governements development projects.

> > Ethics seems the only other way.
> I'm not sure what this means in the context of your argument.  I would
> hope that all elected representatives would always behave in an ethical
> way in discharging their duties.  But we know it will not always be so
> -  human beings are human beings.

Ethics can try to stop corruption. But humans being themselves, I think we
an electoral system that removes any incentive toward dealing for votes.

> > We have bet on that for decades, yet
> > scandals
> > still follow each other even if we elect rich, well educated,
> > passionate and full of good will persons.
> There is little evidence that this lot is any better that the others  -
> but nor are they a lot worse.

Simulations done during the convention of electors held in Montreal november
10th 2002
showed results obtained for a fictive election with 12 seats and 13 voters per
using FPTP, MMP, STV and SPPA...  Of course such analysis should be more
to gain in fiability.  Did you received the summary of those results? I sent
it to the EM list.

> > I am an idealist if you want.
> There is no harm in that - I am an idealist, too - but if you want to
> achieve some real reform you must temper some of your more idealistic
> ideas with practicality.  But I do not share some of your ideals.
> > But if you  hope those issues
> > will vanish by themselves, you are more an utopist than me.
> I would not want all of the things you listed to vanish.  I believe
> representatives should be representative, in every way that that
> implies.
> > You can't say it is
> > impossible to reach the moon unless at least you try...
> After 40 years, some of us have had plenty of experience.

At the end of the electors convention, we elected the best multiple-winners
electoral method according to the participants:
STV won the final election using the four methods as candidates.
But SPPA beat MMP when using approval as a selection method.
FPTP finished last, any given selection method (FPTP, approval, AV or Ranked
pairs (margin))
Maybe some surprises await for you, even after 40 years of experience...

> > Finally, I do agree that a crowded field with too many names
> > is not good.
> > SPPA tries to get the best of both worlds: only one name per party on
> > the ballot but still the ability to compare all candidates of
> > a same party.
> My principal problems with your proposal are:
> 1.  I reject your concept of "pure PR".  It is a myth and an illusion.

No, it is a well-defined criteria. One you do not find as important as
other pragmatic considerations of yours. Some people think STV is
too complex for the additional PR gained. Why not choose their opinion
as the good one? I think it depends on the level of precision vs complexity
each person wants... STV being in the middle does not garantee any
superiority, sorry.

> 2.  Your "PR" is based exclusively on political parties.  There is much,
> much more to PR than just PR of registered political parties. Or, at
> least there should be.   I want to see voters able to obtain the "PR" of
> whatever they want, as expressed through their responses to the
> candidates who offer themselves for election.

False. Your turn to show more misunderstanding of SPPA. It uses parties
as a simplification tool to diminish ballot length and the number of speaker
to listen to for a voter wanting to do his(er) job well.

> 3.  I disagree fundamentally with any system that involves national
> aggregation of votes and allocation of seats.  I have argued in other
> posts against giving representation to the smallest groups that
> inevitably result from such systems.  UK politics would be an absolute
> disaster if the voting system gave representation to any group that
> could secure 1 / 659th of the UK-wide vote for the House of Commons in
> the Westminster Parliament.  Israeli politics shows what can happen when
> representation goes down to 1.5%.

It is your choice. However, your paralysis argument is unfounded when compared

to the "crutch" option described to fix it in SPPA. I am a serious
so I would solve a problem (misrepresentation) by creating another
Please read before saying it is impossible. SPPA guarantees a stable
that could produce bipartite coalitions for a reduced mandate at worst. So
please do not
remove small parties without necessity.

> 4. Virtual electoral districts are not acceptable in the real world, no
> matter how you choose to define them.

It seems to be the case, more because of tradition and inerty than because of
rationalized inconvenients or logical arguments as Alex wrote.

Thanks for reading,

> James
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