[EM] Re: PR not representing median voter, and a system using best of PR and single seat.

Clinton Mead cryptor at zipworld.com.au
Thu Jul 24 10:34:11 PDT 2003

>Message: 4
>Date: Wed, 23 Jul 2003 15:21:57 -0700 (PDT)
>Subject: Re: [EM] Re: PR not representing median voter, and a system using best  ofPR and single seat.
>From: "Alex Small" <asmall at physics.ucsb.edu>
>To: <election-methods-electorama.com at electorama.com>
>When you say "upper house", do you envision that House as being more
>powerful or less powerful than the Lower House?  I know that in most
>countries the Upper House is the smaller one with longer terms, and it's
>generally the weaker of the two Houses.  However, in the US the Senate is
>actually the more powerful House of Congress.  It is essentially equal to
>the House of Representatives in legislative matters, and it also has power
>over treaties and judicial and executive appointments.  I don't know what
>the situation is in Australia.
Australian upper house (senate) has equal powers to the lower house 
(house of representatives) except it can't initiate money bills. So 
technically it has slightly less power. The Australian upper house is 
half the size of the lower house. A proportionally represented upper 
house may be more appropriate for things like treaties and judicial 
appointments, as these matters are important enough not to be controlled 
by a single party (particularly judicial appointments). I would suggest 
at least the power of say, 2/3 veto from the other house though, just to 
keep either house in check.

As far as the executive goes in Australia, thats a bit of a historical 
mess, fortuantly, in my opinion. Our leader, the Governer General, is 
the representative of the Queen. Nowadays though, the Prime Minister 
(leader of the majority party in the lower house, and the effective 
leader of the nation), writes on a piece of paper who he wants to be 
Governer General, and says to your magesty to sign here. Unfortuantly, 
the prime minster picked a priest who covered up sex abuse in the church 
30 years ago to be the leader of our nation, so he's gone now. Now 
theres some former military guy in. I don't know his name. Anyway, the 
excutitive hasn't done a think notable besides tick everything that 
comes through for 30 years now. Hence the Governer General rarely uses 
the power _he_ has.

Hence the effective leader of our nation is the Prime Minister, much 
like the british system. He is constitutionally no more special than any 
other member of the House of Representatives. Which is good in a way, 
because he has to sit with everyone else, and get questioned and 
embrassed, it keeps his respect down, so he doesn't get too powerful. 
And there aren't many major unelected political leaders (besides the 
Governer General mess).

>So, if your contention is that the more powerful House should be elected
>from SMD, then in the US we would actually want the Senate elected by SMD
>(which it is), not the House of Representatives.  However, virtually
>anywhere else in the world you'd probably want the less powerful House
>elected from SMD.
I don't see why? If anything the most powerful house should be elected 
by proportional representation.

Heres two reasons.

- If its doing powerful things, you don't want to be controled by a 
single party.
- Powerful things are generally national wide area things, not where to 
build a bridge. These nation wide issues would be best represented by 
proportional representation.

The lower house, particularly if it is a large house, is there as local 
representation for localish things, and a place for independent voices 
in politics to be heard, and possibly a stepping stone to bigger things. 
Sure independents in the lower house may not be able to influence things 
by their vote directly, but they might be able to make enough of a noise 
to make the major parties think twice about the electorate preception of 
their policies.

An alternative voice, even from one seat, can make a difference. Recent 
experience in the Australian Senate. The current authoritarian leaning 
government tryed to pass a security bill that would allow the secret 
service to detain persons for questioning as young as 10 for effectively 
possibly having knowledge about a potential terrorist act that may or 
may not occur. Of course the non-government senate blocked the bill, 
pushed the age up to 16, whacked a 3 year sunshine clause on it, and put 
a few other safeguards on it (we have no bill of rights). It was about 
to recieve opposition support when a greens senator piped up and showed 
a loophole in the bill that would allow the secret service to obtain 
rolling warrants, and detain people indefinitely. So it was held back, 
the loophole closed, then passed. The point being, the whistle blower 
didn't have the votes to stop the bill, but they made an impact beyond 
their voting power. Although this was in the upper house, using 
condorcet voting, a large upper house may allow for quite a few 
independents and some minor party candidates for a similar effect.

>Personally, because I put priority on representing as many views as
>possible, I'd want the more powerful House elected by PR.  I'd settle for
>a less powerful House elected by SMD because I can't see Americans
>completely abandoning SMD any time soon.  This might some day happen in
>state legislatures (although I'm not holding my breath).
Agreed. You'll probably have to enlarge the senate to 300 members 
though, 6 per state, elected 3 at a time. Its not great proportionally, 
but it stops the "two party state" syndrome. But we've got 75 in our 
senate, and a lot less than 4 times less population than you.

>However, in the US Congress I see very little chance of ever electing the
>Senate by PR in the US.  Changing the apportionment to elect the Senate by
>nation-wide PR is impossible, and enlarging the Senate so every state
>could elect a several member delegation by PR is incredibly unlikely.  
Why not enlarge? We've done it a few times. We started with 6 per state, 
went to 10, now we have 12. Surely you don't need 3 million people 
supporting each senator, 1 million is ample, considering we have around 
250000 per senator.

>the most likely situation that we can hope for is each state electing its
>House of Representatives delegation by PR.
Maybe condorcet might be a first step, or at least something that 
guarentees smith set criteria, so you can get some non-major party 
candidates into congress.

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