[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Thu Dec 4 07:09:04 PST 2008

> >> Abd ul-Rahman Lomax  > Sent: Wednesday, December 03, 2008 10:52 PM
> >> The tragedy is that IRV is replacing Top Two Runoff, an older reform 
> >> that actually works better than IRV.

> > James Gilmour wrote: 
> > I have seen statements like this quite a few times, and they puzzle 
> > me.  I can see the benefit in TTRO in knowing before voting at the 
> > second stage which two candidates will actually be involved in the 
> > run-off.  But what concerns me is the potential chaos in getting to 
> > that stage.  The French Presidential election of 2002 is a good 
> > example of the very bad results that can come from the first round of 
> > TTRO.  And we have seen similar problems in some of the mayoral 
> > elections in England where the so-called Supplementary Vote is used in 
> > which the voters can mark their first and second preferences but only 
> > the second preferences for the first stage Top-Two candidates are 
> > counted.  In such circumstances the outcome from TTRO is very bad and 
> > I should have thought that an IRV election would have given a much 
> > more representative result.  Condorcet might be better still, but 
> > that's a different debate.

Kristofer Munsterhjelm   > Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 8:17 AM> 
> I'm not Abd, but I think the argument goes like this: in TTR, if a 
> (usually) third candidate gets enough FPP votes to make it to the second 
> round, that candidate has a real chance of winning, since the second 
> round will be focused on those two candidates alone, whereas, on the 
> other hand, if it's IRV, then IRV's chaos may deprive the candidate of 
> its rightful victory, and even if it wouldn't, people can only vote for 
> the third candidate that would become the winner as one of 
> many, not as one of two.

I'm afraid I cannot follow your argument at all.  The whole point about TTRO is that a strong third-preferred candidate, who with
IRV or Condorcet might come through to be the eventual winner, is dumped at the first stage by TTRO rules.  That is almost certainly
what happened in the 2002 French Presidential election  -  and that "defeat" ended the political career of the politician concerned.

And just to be clear, in the examples I gave we are not dealing with TTRO that started with only three candidates .  In the 2002
French Presidential there 16 candidates.  And some of the mayoral elections in England also have large numbers of candidates  -  one
immediately to hand had 14.  I think in these circumstances I would prefer the risk of some lower order chaos with IRV exclusions to
the high risk of excluding of the most-preferred candidate with TTRO.

James Gilmour
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