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

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Tue Dec 23 15:05:56 PST 2008

Dave Ketchum  > Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 9:54 PM
> Ok, I did not say it clearly.
> Obvious need is to package arguments such that they are salable.
> Take the one about a Condorcet winner with no first preferences.  Ugly 
> thought, but how do you get there?  Perhaps with three incompatible 
> positions that share equally all the first preferences, while a neutral 
> candidate gets all the second preferences.
> Assume it will never happen, so do not provide for such?  As I suggested 
> before, somehow, if you assume such fate will, somehow, prove you wrong.
> Provide a fence, forbidding getting too close to such?  Where do you put 
> the fence without doing more harm than good?
> Leave it legal, while assuring electors they should not worry about it ever 
> occurring?  I see this as proper - it is unlikely, yet not a true disaster 
> if it does manage to occur.

Interesting points, but I don't think any of them address the problem I identified.  It is no answer at all to say "Obvious need is
to package arguments such that they are saleable.".  The ordinary electors will just not buy it when a weak Condorcet winner is a
real likely outcome.

I do not think you have to be anywhere near the zero first-preferences Condorcet winner scenario to be in the sphere of "politically
unacceptable".  I am quite certain that the 5% FP CW would also be politically unacceptable, and that there would political chaos in
the government in consequence.  The forces opposed to real reform of the voting system (big party politicians, big money, media
moguls, to name a few) would ensure that there was chaos, and the electors would have an intuitive reaction against a weak Condorcet
winner so they would go along with the demands to go back to "the good old ways".

I said in an earlier post that I thought a strong third-placed Condorcet winner could be politically acceptable, and thus the voting
system could be saleable if that was always the only likely outcome.   So I have been asked before where I thought the tipping point
might be, between acceptable and unacceptable.  I don't know the answer to that question because no work has been done on that  -
certainly not in the UK where Condorcet is not on the voting reform agenda at all.  In some ways the answer is irrelevant because
the Condorcet voting system will never get off the ground so long as a 5% FP Condorcet winner is a realistic scenario, as it is when
the current (pre-reform) political system is so dominated by two big political parties.

> The primary battle between Clinton and Obama here presents a strong 
> argument for getting rid of Plurality elections - better for them both to 
> go to the general election fighting against their shared foe, McCain. 

This represents a VERY idealistic view of politics  -  at least, it would be so far as the UK is concerned.  NO major party is going
into any single-office single-winner election with more than one party candidate, no matter what the voting system.  Having more
than one candidate causes problems for the party and it certainly causes problems for the voters.  And there is another important
intuitive reaction on the part of the electors  -  they don't like parties that appear to be divided.  They like the party to sort
all that internally and to present one candidate with a common front in the public election for the office.  But maybe my views are
somewhat coloured by my lack of enthusiasm for public primary elections.

> Actually, the Electoral College complicates this discussion for 
> presidential elections but it does apply to others.

Yes, the Electoral College is a "complication" in any discussion about choosing a voting system for the possible direct election of
the US President.  As a practical reformer, that's one I would leave severely alone until every city mayor and every state governor
and every other single-office holder in the USA was elected by an appropriate voting system instead of FPTP.  But then I don't have
a vote in any of those elections!

No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG - http://www.avg.com 
Version: 8.0.176 / Virus Database: 270.10.0/1861 - Release Date: 22/12/2008 11:23

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list