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

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km-elmet at broadpark.no
Wed Dec 24 01:53:36 PST 2008

James Gilmour wrote:
> 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.

Perhaps Condorcet would be like proportional representation in this 
respect. True, pure PR is proportional representation even of a group 
having 0.5% support, but most PR systems have a threshold (either 
implicit or explicit). Perhaps real world implementation of Condorcet 
systems would have a "first preference" threshold, either on candidates 
or on sets: anyone getting less than x% FP is disqualified. If it's 
directly on candidates, that isn't cloneproof, but if it's done on sets, 
it could be. On the other hands, doing it on sets could preserve the 
complaints, and in a completely polarized world, it would be a problem.

For instance,

49: Faction A controls nation > Compromise > Faction B controls nation
48: Faction B controls nation > Compromise > Faction A controls nation
  2: Compromise > Faction A controls nation = Faction B controls nation

That's kinda contrived, but if either A or B wins, there'll be big trouble.

> 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.

Some states in the US have public primary elections ("open primaries"). 
One could argue that if parties thought that it was important to focus 
all its power on one candidate, the parties themselves would oppose open 
primaries; but in some situations where it's up to the party whether the 
primary is open to voters from other parties (such as with the Democrats 
in California), they still leave it open.

But then again, perhaps that is because primaries are still an "election 
before the election". Primaries are done, the candidate selected, and 
*then* the party can focus on its winner.

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