[EM] Electing a proportional executive/cabinet

Raphael Ryan RaphFrk at netscape.net
Tue Mar 21 01:40:36 PST 2006

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

>At 10:52 AM 3/18/2006, raphfrk at netscape.net wrote:
>>Is there any standard/efficient way to elect a cabinet directly ?
>There is certainly no *standard way*. 

Ok, was wondering if I had missed it. 

>Cabinets are best hired, not elected. In fact, I think direct 
>elections, without any clear deliberative process, which choose 
>officers based on public image and without the public actually 
>knowing the candidates well (by which I mean personally, with ample 
>opportunity to observe the individual), are a formula for deception 
>and delusion. And history, I think, confirms this thought. Sometimes 
>a good person is elected through this process. However, a stopped 
>clock is still right twice a day.

I disagree, it would allow the voters to choose different parties for each issue.  For example, you might trust one party to run the economy but another for something like health care.  Likely, each party would put forward a candidate for each ministry so most would vote based on what the position of the party is.

I don't see how electing 1 president is a better system.  Electing a cabinet is like electing a mini-president for each area of government. 

>Elect a parliament or legislature directly, if you must (delegable 
>proxy is better, but until the revolution....), and then let this 
>body hire the managers, to serve at their pleasure. Cabinet officials 
>are managers, like department managers in a business.

Ok, so you don't think division of power between the executive and legislature is a good idea ?

>Once you have directly elected officials, they have terms during 
>which it can be extraordinarily difficult to remove them. You 
>essentially create kings-for-a-few-years. Whether or not they 
>actually are functioning as the servants of the public that they should be.

I was thinking of something like:

2 Consuls are elected using STV of the entire nation

The cabinet is directly elected

A Consul may suspend one member of the cabinet.  The other Consul then appoints an acting replacement.  A Consul must release his suspension to suspend someone else.  This means that the Consulate may suspend and replace at most 2 of the cabinet, though in practice, they shouldn't use it except in cases of abuse. This provides a reasonable check to excessive cabinet abuse while still having a proportional cabinet.

>No sane set of shareholders in a corporation would hire managers this 
>way. So what in the world would make us think it would be better in politics?
>Parliamentary systems -- I'm no expert regarding them, but I think -- 
>frequently assign cabinet posts as a power-sharing device, negotiated 
>between political parties. That makes some sense, and does broaden 
>representation in government, more than the winner-take-all insanity 
>that is the U.S. process. But it can also result in assignments based 
>only on party loyalty rather than on competence in the particular 
>area of the ministry.

In Ireland, even in the same party, there is an expectation that cabinet positions will be distributed around the country.  Also, the minister tends to favour his local constituency.  The two points are linked.

>However, how the general public is supposed to be able to do better 
>is completely beyond me. We don't have the information and even if we 
>did, we don't have the time to analyze it. And we are missing 
>something huge: personal contact with these people.

It is that it gives the public more control over policy, rather than just pick 1 party and you have to accept everything the party stands for.  

Another option would be a single vote for each cabinet position using ranked ballots, but that doesn't give proportionality.  Maybe proportionality could be achieved by having funding of the ministries be controlled by a PR elected body where each member can allocate his share of the taxes collected.

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