[EM] it's pleocracy, not democracy

raphfrk at netscape.net raphfrk at netscape.net
Tue Mar 6 10:22:49 PST 2007

  From: abd at lomaxdesign.com
 > At 06:33 AM 3/6/2007, raphfrk at netscape.net wrote:
 > >From: abd at lomaxdesign.com
 > >
 > > > No. But that condition is essentially impossible. There is *never* a
 > > > consistent faction of that size in a majoritarian democracy, indeed,
 > > > I think I wrote, there is no faction of *any* size of which this is
 > > > true, since the vast majority of choices made in real societies enjoy
 > > > almost total consensus.
 > > >
 > >It happened in Northern Ireland. The nationalist faction is around
 > >45% of the population. They want NI to be part of the Republic. The
 > >other faction is the unionist faction. They wanted to remain part
 > >of the UK and represented around 55% of the population.
 > No, it did *not* happen in Northern Ireland. That is a *single* decision.
 > Yes, it is a big one, but is it being suggested here that the alternative,
 > joining the Republic, be imposed on the majority?
 Many probably would. There is an arguement that the vast majority of the
 people on the island wanted the island to be a single nation. Probably
 90%+ in the South and 45% in the North giving an overall majority of around
 Does a minority (Ulster Unionists) have a right to break up the nation?
 Likewise, does a minority (Irish Nationalists when they were part of the
 UK) have a similar right?
 I would say yes in both cases. However, I wouldn't have agreed with
 majority nationalist counties remaining part of the UK (and so being
 part of NI). A fairer split would be to have a referendum in each
 county and let the residents decide which state they wish to be part
 Anyway, that is an interesting discussion in itself. Does a geographically
 concentrated minority have the right to seceed ?
 However, that was not the issue that I was raising. The point was that
 it is possible to have a majority which consistantly is in power to the
 detriment of the minority. 
 NI politics is extremely factional. There are Unionist parties and 
 Nationalist parties and some new (and small) non-aligned parties.
 The Unionist parties would band together in order to prevent the
 nationalists from having any power whatsoever. The civil disorder was
 caused partly by a desire to bring down the state but also by considerable
 discrimination. The government was permenently controlled by the
 Unionists, even with the best will in the world, the civil service is going
 to be biased towards Unionists. (and the Unionists didn't exactly have
 the best will in the world).
 In a normal parliament having 45% of the seats would give a reasonable
 amount of power, but if the 55% have an (internal) rule that it is
 not permitted to vote-trade with them, then the seats are worthless.
 There was only 1 bill passed that was initiated by a Nationalist for
 something like 50 years (and it was on a minor topic).
 > But, again, this is only a single decision, all be it one that feeds quite a few others.
 It was all the decisions, the Nationalists were not consulted on
 > Would Northern Ireland be part of England one year and the next year part of
 > Ireland? This is the only way I could think of spreading out the "getting their way."
 One option would be allow people to go their separate ways. If you can't
 get along, should people be forced to ?
 The solution that the new power-sharing assembly is going for is to have
 NI separate, but have bodies that facilitate cooperation between the
 republic and NI. For example, there would be a body dealing with
 coordinating the rail networks etc.
 > You want my opinion of how to deal with a situation like this?
 > You try to give everyone their "way." You need a system in place
 > for functioning as a deliberative democracy that can seek consensus.
 > FA/DP is exactly such a solution, and it is exactly designed to
 > function even in very difficult situations.
 Right, NI politics at the time was degenerate.
 However, it does highlight the problems of giving all the power to the
 majority. It only works if there is some factional flexibility.
 The society either needs to be made up of a faction that has say 70%+ of the
 State, so it doesn't have to fear losing power, or the society needs to be
 made up of lots of smaller factions, so no 1 of them will be able to
 be a majority on its own.
 The problem with a 55/45 split is that the 55 faction has to work hard to
 maintain unity or it loses its power.
 Unionists supporters probably didn't have much democracy either as they
 had to vote for the Unionist party in order to ensure a Unionist win.
 > FA/DP theoretically will bring together all factions at a single table,
 > where a relatively small group of people who *actually* represent,
 > collectively, nearly everyone, can seek better solutions than Half-Win, Half-Lose.
 They have to want to talk to each other. Unionists were afraid that
 giving any power to the Nationalists would mean that they would move
 NI more towards the Republic (which is probably what they would do).
 > Maybe Northern Ireland should be independent, or maybe it should be
 > partitioned (very complex and difficult but doable *if* there is
 > free choice and full compensation, which is almost never proposed,
 > instead what is proposed are "us win you lose" kinds of partition....
 > get off my land! you don't belong here. Even if you have been here,
 > with your ancestors, for hundreds of years).
 Alternatively, there is no need for compensation if property rights
 are preserved in both jusistictions.
 Working out how much land prices drop would be pretty expensive.
 > >In fact, the original split of the island into NI and the Free State (as
 > >the Republic was then), was designed to give the unionists as much
 > >territory as possible, while still giving them a majority.
 > Bad design, for sure. Setting up situations with narrow majorities
 > on very important issues is a formula for civil war. N. Ireland is
 > an example that proves this, but there are many others.
 Right. There are those who argue that was the point of partition. If
 people are fighting each other, then they aren't a problem for the UK.
 > >This was the single most important issue in every election, and the
 > >unionists won every time.
 > And this, of course, results in terrible consequences for *everyone*,
 > even for these politicians and certainly for their communities.
 Yup. However, there was very little trust between the two communities.
 That is difficult to build up when random people are being killed.
 > > >
 > >The peace process is an attempt to restore local government in NI.
 > >The rules that they intend to use are not rule by majority.
 > >They use PR to elect the assembly. Each candidate must say if they
 > >are a nationalist, a unionist or neither. No bill can be passed by
 > >the assembly unless it majority support from both the nationalists
 > >and the unionists (and probably overall majority support). This is
 > >obviously subject to abuse. Once, some of the independents redesignated
 > >themselves as unionists so that a bill could be passed.
 > This is a special response to a special situation, and, yes, it is
 > wide open to exactly the abuse mentioned. My own suggestion would
 > be to use Asset Voting for the assembly.
 PR-STV achieves (or near achieves) the same thing. The main problem
 was that the Unionists and Nationalists didn't like each other. Very 
 few systems would work in that case.
 Interesting site
 "what if anyone could modify the laws"
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