[EM] Fwd: IRV splits majorities to empower everyone, & find common ground

Chris Benham chrisbenham at bigpond.com
Fri Nov 18 01:26:24 PST 2005

IRV Alliance wrote:

>If you care to be honest about how real-life politics works, it is 
>not possible to have a dominant majority using IRV. 

How in this context do you define "dominant"?  Are you referring simply 
to a single party or disciplined
coalition with (a "comfortable")  absolute majority  of  the 
single-member seats in a legislature/parliament?

>Using PR, it hardly matters if the Sunnis get 10% or 30% of the 
>representation.  Why vote?  They are still almost powerless compared 
>to the competing majority.  
The factor that you are oblivious to is that  from the point of view of 
minority parties and factions, getting
some seats in  the legislature is vastly vastly better than getting 
none. MPs  get well paid and get big and many
perks and privileges and  parties with some MPs  have a big advantage 
over those with none.
It isn't just about passing laws and being in the government.

Also I reject your approach that "PR or not PR?"  is purely a 
utilitarian pragmatic question. As far as I am concerned,
minorities, broadly speaking, have a *right*  to be proportionately 
represented.  And that is partly about having  their
representatives/leaders  get their fair share of  the salaries, perks 
and privileges that the state gives to elected MPs.

>Sensing strong PR support, maybe you could help me out by naming  
>any govt. agency anywhere worldwide that has voluntarily adopted PR 
>general elections lately.  
I believe there is some movement for Italy (I think it was) to return to 
some form of  PR.  Within the last few years,
STV-PR has been instituted for the Australian Capital Territory 
legislature  and the upper house in the Australian
state of  Victoria.  There has been strong movement to adopt  STV-PR in 
the Canadian province of  British Columbia.

>Well, I have seen them differentiated many times.  I thought that 
>legislatures are elected by district, but parliaments are elected by 
>PR and then they appoint a prime minister. 
The original  western parliament is the British  House of Commons, which 
uses Plurality (aka FPP) in single-member districts.
A  legislature is just a body that passes laws. The big difference 
between a  Parliamentary system and the US-style
Presidential system is that in the US the Executive is separate from the 
Legislature.  The head of state is the President
who is directly elected and then just appoints to the Executive/Cabinet 
exactly who he/she likes and those appointees
are only really answerable to the President.

In the Parliamentary system, the government rests on the support of and 
is answerable to  Parliament (the "Lower House"
of  Parliament in the case of a bicameral system).  The head of  the 
government is the Prime Minister who is a member of
Parliament, and is not normally directly elected at large (I think an 
exception is Israel). The PM is normally in theory appointed
by the Head of State, but in practice and in effect is elected by  the 
MPs.  The Head of State can be a  constitutional monarch
or can be a largely ceremonial  President.  The members of cabinet all 
have to be MPs and are normally appointed by the PM,
(or  the MPs of the governing party might elect the members of the 
Cabinet and the PM decides which "portfolios" they get)
but the PM and his/her ministers are answerable to Parliament and have 
to periodically answer questions put by Opposition MPs.

If  the Parliament passes a "motion of no-confidence in the government", 
then the government must resign and normally the crisis
is resolved by having a new general election but I suppose in theory the 
Head of State could appoint a new PM who "commands
a majority on the floor of the House".

So a parliament is a legislature, but a legislature isn't necessarily a 

> Regarding Ireland, It supposedly has the healthiest economy in 
>Europe and partisan violence has virtually ended since IRV was 
>adopted. (it would take years to overcome established competition)  
>However, if the parliament elects a PM, that is not straight IRV and 
>would make the district elections MORE partisan, probably more than 
>off-setting the IRV effect.
Ireland has a Parliamentary system with the Lower House (on which the 
government is based) elected by STV-PR
(aka Hare-Clarke) from  multi-member districts (which I think range from 
3 to 7 members).
IRV is used to elect their (mostly just ceremonial) President, and I'm 
not sure exactly how they elect their Upper House.
There has been more than one attempt in Ireland to get rid of  PR by 
referendum, but the voters voted to keep it.

Some links that might help you get a clue:




Chris  Benham


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