[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Tue Dec 23 05:02:09 PST 2008

Dave Ketchum   > Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 12:23 AM
> Disturbing that you would consider clear wins by a majority to be 
> objectionable.

Dave, I never said that I would find that result objectionable.  What I did say was that I thought such a result would be
POLITICALLY unacceptable to the ELECTORS   -  certainly in the UK, and perhaps also in the USA as there are SOME similarities in the
political culture.  It goes almost without saying that such a result would be politically unacceptable to the two main parties I had
in mind.

Political acceptability is extremely important if you want to achieve practical reform of the voting system.  The Electoral Reform
Society has been campaigning for such reform for more that 100 years (since 1884), but it has still not achieved it main objective
-  to reform the FPTP voting system used to elected MPs to the UK House of Commons.  The obstacles to that reform are not to do with
theoretical or technical aspects of the voting systems  -  they are simply political.  It was for political reasons that the Hansard
Society's Commission on Electoral Reform came up with its dreadful version of MMP in 1976 and for political reasons that the Jenkins
Commission proposed the equally dreadful AV+ in 1998.  Jenkins' AV+ was a (slight) move towards PR, but it was deliberately designed
so that the two main parties would be over-represented in relation to their shares of the votes and that one or other of two main
parties would have a manufactured majority of the seats so that it could form a single-party majority government even though it had
only a minority of the votes.

It is sometimes possible to marginalise the politicians and the political parties in a campaign if you can mobilise enough of the
ordinary electors to express a view, but our experience in the UK is that constitutional reform and reform of the voting system are
very rarely issues on which ordinary electors will "take up arms" (metaphorically, of course).

> In Election 2 Condorcet awarded the win to M.  Who has any 
> business objecting?
>       52 of 100 prefer M over D
>       53 of 100 prefer M over R
>       Neither R nor D got a majority of the votes.

Leaving aside the debate about the meaning of "majority", it is clear to me that M is the Condorcet winner  -  no question.  But, as
explained above, it is MY view that such an outcome would not be acceptable to our electors.  I base my view of UK electors' likely
reaction on nearly five decades of campaigning for practical reform of the voting systems we use in our public elections.

> As to my  "no first preferences" example, surest way to cause 
> such is to be unable to respond to them.

I'm not sure what this statement is really mean to say..

I understand that a Condorcet winner could, indeed, have no first preferences at all.  But in political terms, such a possibility is
not just unacceptable, it's a complete non-starter.


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