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

Scott Ritchie scott at open-vote.org
Fri Nov 18 18:02:29 PST 2005

On Thu, 2005-11-17 at 21:54 +0000, IRV Alliance wrote:
>    The thing you have to understand about IRV is that it is not easy 
> to exclude voters unless they want to be excluded.  You get 3 chances 
> to pick a winner. (in SF)  If you cannot find any candidate that the 
> other voters can agree on, you are probably too far out there to 
> deserve a strong voice in public policy.  
>   If you care to be honest about how real-life politics works, it is 
> not possible to have a dominant majority using IRV.  If one 
> group/issue has more support than the others, let's say 40-60%+ 
> support, then realistically  more than one candidate will focus on 
> that majority group and split the 1st choice vote.   This is the 
> effect of spoiler-proof multi-candidate elections: No one can count 
> on a safe majority.  It raises the bar by allowing 2nd choices/more 
> voters to be counted.
>   Out of all the candidates that split the 1st-choice majority using 
> IRV, the one who reaches out to the most minority voters for 2nd/3rd 
> choices will win.  

This isn't true.  Someone could be ranked second on literally every
ballot and be the first loser.  Imagine a committee using IRV to elect
its chair, where everyone ranks themselves first and then the ideal
chair (who didn't vote for himself) second.  That's why the difference
between Condorcet methods and IRV is so important.

>    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.  So a few people a day would rather blow 
> themselves up then pretend to participate in the charade of one-
> choice politics.  The neo-cons would not let Iraq use IRV because 
> they don't want Americans to find out that it would work here too.

Ahh, yes, the secret NeoCon conspiracy to stymie IRV strikes again...

And if you don't think there's a difference between having 10 or 30% of
a parliament there are 3 minor parties in Germany who would like to have
a word with you.  This is even more true in Iraq, where majority rule
ISN'T enough to control the government, and the difference between 10
and 30% of the seats can mean blocking legislation.

>   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 did read it that is being repealed 
> somewhere in the far east because politics were such a mess there)  
> And an occupied war zone planned as a puppet-state does not count 
> as "voluntarily" if it tried to use PR.

Meanwhile, a bunch of new, sham democracies have adopted single member
districts for the express purpose of staying in power, such as Zimbabwe.
Regime change by coup has been more common than regime change by
election in Africa, for instance - do you really want to say that their
avoidance of PR is a reason to avoid it, since they're new democracies?

> more questions:
> 1st, Scott wrote:
> > A parliament IS a legislature.
>     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. A prime minister to be in 
> charge and pull the strings is necessary because PR-elected bodies 
> are usually hopelessly ineffective and hog-tied by partisans.

Perhaps you should read up on Canada or the United Kingdom.  They use
single member districts ("ridings" in Canada) and are almost certainly
parliamentary systems.

>     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.

You can't attribute the end of the violence to IRV, since IRV for the
Presidential elections came into effect at the exact same time as STV
for the legislature.

You are right, however, that parliamentary governments are more likely
to be partisan in nature than presidential/legislative ones, due to the
need to form a ruling coalition and the incentive to stick with one's
party.  However, the electoral system plays a role too: open list PR
systems and STV systems have significantly more personal rather than
partisan politics exactly because the incentive for candidates to behave
that way is there.

>    As a footnote, right now a PR advocate an another list is 
> vehemently proclaiming that IRV is wrong because it WOULD elect 
> extremists!, so I am being debated by both sides today!
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ElectionReformMI/
>   His arguements are not very coherent though.  All these scare-
> tactics trying to play on people who may still not really understand 
> IRV always peter out in the end.  Maybe the two of you could get 
> together and reduce the misinfo to only one arguement against IRV 
> instead of two contradictory ones.

Look, if you're worried about extremists to the point where you want to
deny them representation, you can always do it in a way that other PR
systems do.  In Germany, you need 5% to get into the government.  You
could approximate this by using districted STV with 19-member districts,
such that the threshold to win a seat is therefore 5% of the vote in any
particular district.

>     The bottom line is that IRV/IRV+ best represents voters across 
> the spectrum by electing moderates with the broadest possible 
> majority AND minority/extremist support.

Sure, and ranked pairs is a fine method for single-candidate elections
to the presidency.  But if the point of a legislature is to promote
representative government, then shouldn't we use a more representative
voting system?  We don't need to fill the legislature up with clones of
the executive to have effective government - if there's majority rule in
the legislature, and no nastiness like malapportionment, there's no
reason to expect gridlock.

>   Also, you could check the "draft" write-up on this page
> http://ElectionMethods.com and offer suggestions if you want. I think 
> everyone might as well admit that Ranked Pairs(IRV+) is a little more 
> logical than IRV, but IRV will do for now to address the real 
> problems of minority disempowerment using 1-choice ballots.
>  Thanks.

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