[EM] Electing a proportional executive/cabinet

raphfrk at netscape.net raphfrk at netscape.net
Sat Mar 18 07:52:34 PST 2006

Is there any standard/efficient way to elect a cabinet directly ?

The only example I know of is the N. Ireland one.  Under that system, 
the d'hondt system is used.  The largest party gets first choice and so 
on based on the d'hondt system.  This isn't really directly electing 
the cabinet though.  Also, if all the cabinet seats are not equal in 
power/value, the larger parties benefit as they end up with first 
choices and get the more important ones.

So assuming the following:

- a cabinet is to be directly elected by a general vote of the 
- each seat on the cabinet is for a specific ministry with defined 
- all seats are not necessarily equal in power and this may change over 

My initial thought were that STV would be the best method.

Each candidate would stand for a specific seat and the candidates would 
be ranked by the voters.  A voter might vote:

1) Candidate A for finance minister
2) Candidate B for finance minister
3) Candidate C for defence minister
4) candidate D for justice minister
5) candidate E for finance minister
and so on

The problem comes down on how to select a quota.  Using the droop quota 
is not necessarily a good idea as each seat is not equal.  For example, 
there might only be one candidate for one of the seats as it is a 
pretty unimportant ministery or maybe the incumbent is extrememly 

Also, the importance of each minister would change from election to 
election.  For example, if a war was brewing, the choice of defense 
minister would be critical.  In times of high crime, the justice 
minister would be important and so on.  At all times, the importance of 
a ministry would be related to the budget for the ministry.  Also, 
making sure a certain person doesn't get elected, might make people 
vote for a certain ministry.

The process would be that the candidate with the lowest number of votes 
is eliminated until a candidate is elected.  A candidate is only deemed 
elected when there is nobody else left for the seat the candidate is 
standing for.  The number of votes distributed from the elected 
candidate would be equal to the number of votes that the candidate 
defeated the 2nd place candidate by.

If lots of people have a certain ministry in their top choices, then it 
is effectively deemed important, and given a larger quota.

I am not sure what the strategy effects of using the system would be.  
The rule might mean people "burn" their vote by voting for a disputed 
ministry.  Knowledge of polls in the run-up to the election could 
become important.  Another tactic would be for a party to suggest to 
their supporters to randomly select one of the party's candidates for 
the cabinet as their first choice.

Also, perhaps "simple" ranking is not appropriate in this situation.  I 
might prefer a certain candidate for a specific ministry.  However, I 
would rather my second and third choice were selected rather than just 
my first choice.

Maybe a range like ranking would be better.  This would only be used to 
decide where my vote went rather than in range where it is part of an 

If I vote:

A: 1.0
B: 0.6
C: 0.5
D: 0.1

Then I am saying my first choice is A, but if I am given a choice, I 
would rather B and C are elected to just A being elected.  This would 
make the counting even harder though.  Also, I would be saying that I 
would rather B and F both don't get elected rather than B and F both 
getting elected.

Another option would be to allow voters to select the quota for each 
vote they make.  If the candidate is still not elected despite getting 
more than 20% of the vote, a person might want their vote to go to 
their 2nd choice.  This could prevent a single seat having a massive a 
quota.  For example, if a candidate had 20,000 first choice votes, but 
2000 of them had set their max at 15000, then those 2000 would transfer 
to their 2nd choice, reducing the candidate to 18,000.  Fractional 
transfers would happen if the candidate would be reduced below the 
quota of some of the people being transfered away.

Alternatively, the quota could just be set to the droop quota despite 
the issues.  Maybe somehow requiring that the power of each cabinet 
seat be balanced somehow.
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