[EM] Real IRV Election, Disputable Result

Anthony Duff anthony_duff at yahoo.com.au
Tue Mar 21 18:01:06 PST 2006

--- Jan Kok <jan.kok.5y at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 3/21/06, Anthony Duff <anthony_duff at yahoo.com.au> wrote:
> > I, like James, have thought about this.  It is particularly relevant in the
> common
> > Australian electorate, where the voting pattern is (with A left, B squeezed
> > centre, C right, extreme and other random candidates ignored):
> >
> > 45 ABC
> > 5 BAC
> > 5 BCA
> > 45 CBA
> Is "B" the Australian Democrats?

Yes.  However, in recent years they have been having a lot of trouble achieving
10% of first preference votes, I think loosing out to the Greens. 

> >From a brief look at their website, www.democrats.org.au , it seems
> they are indeed a moderate, sane, mainstream sort of party.  They even
> have a bit of a sense of humor:
> http://australianpolitics.com/parties/democrats/making-bastards-honest.pdf
> .  What's not to like about them?

I like them.
They have been compared to fairies at the bottom of the garden - idealistic but no
realistic chance of doing anything.  They have held the balance of power in the PR
Senate and have worked with the government to do unpopular things (introduce GST).

> Seriously, why don't they get more first-choice votes?  People could
> vote for them as a protest against the two major parties.

About 40% of voters always vote for one major party, and 40% for the other.  They
do this their whole life.  It's very similar in the US as in Australia, to my
observation.  The remaining 20% do not have enough voting power to get a third
party candidate elected.

Rarely, when a third candidate does get elected in the lower house, almost always
they are a big personality independent not associated with an existing minor

> > Even though with IRV, burying your favourite's greatest perceived opponent has
> > little purpose, people do it.  One reason is that your favourite recommends
> it,
> > another is that it is psychologically satisfying.  People do this, even though
> > they can barely decide between A and C.
> >
> > If IRV were quietly substituted by a condorcet method, then B type candidates
> > would be elected.
> So, does the "B" party know about Condorcet voting methods?  Seems it
> would be in their interest to promote Condorcet.  They (along with
> other minor parties) could also promote Approval or Range when the
> subject of returning to Plurality voting comes up.

Clearly.  However everyone seems to think that the existing methods of elections
are the very definitions of democracy.

> Unfortunately, I don't see any incentive at all for the major "A" and
> "C" parties to support Condorcet/Approval/Range.  That's a major
> downside to adopting IRV in the US.  Once IRV is is adopted, there is
> very little incentive for _either_ major party to support what many of
> us on the EM list believe are even better methods than IRV.

The major parties have their experienced power brokers who, I am sure, know very
well that they benefit from the status quo.


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