[Election-Methods] Fwd: FYI - FairVote MN Responds to LawsuitAgainst IRV

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Thu Dec 27 07:33:37 PST 2007

Juho Laatu  > Sent: 27 December 2007 07:36
> Condorcet methods are not very widely used today.

Are Condorcet methods used for any public elections today?  Have they ever been used for any public elections?  I ask only because I
am not aware of any examples, for public elections, and it would be very helpful to know if there were some.

> Another reason why Condorcet methods are not used in wide scale today  
> is that there are quite number of them and it is not quite obvious  
> which one to take into use.

In terms of achieving practical reform it is a serious problem that that there are several methods and that there is no consensus on
which to use.  I would add, that all of the completion methods are complicated and would be much more difficult to explain to
ordinary electors than, for example, the basic Condorcet principle of pair-wise comparisons.

> But Condorcet methods have the  
> interesting property that in some situations A may be preferred to B,  
> B to C and C to A. 

The possibility of such cycles is a very real problem (despite the plethora of completion methods available).  This possibility, no
matter how rare in practice, is likely to be ceased on by politicians and party activists who are opposed to any reform of FPTP
(simple plurality).  One simple and practical solution might be to revert to IRV to break the Condorcet cycle, but I suspect that
suggestion would go down like a lead balloon among the proponents of Condorcet (and the proponents of other non-IRV voting systems).

> I listed some of the problems of Condorcet methods above, but in  
> general Condorcet methods are really good general purpose single  
> winner methods for typical political elections.

One further practical problem that you didn't mention is the "political acceptability" to the electors of a Condorcet winner who has
very little first preference support.  Where the three front-runners are fairly evenly matched, it is a completely different
situation and I think it would be possible to persuade the electorate that the result was "better" when the third-placed "everyone's
second choice" Condorcet winner took the seat.  But I would doubt very much if we could persuade UK electors that the result was
"better" if that Condorcet winner had very little first preference support.  I cannot speak for the likely response of electors
elsewhere, but I have come to this view based on many years of promoting practical electoral reforms to UK electors.


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