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

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Dec 24 05:18:01 PST 2008

--- On Wed, 24/12/08, James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote:

> As I have said many times before, it is my firmly held view
> that single-winner voting systems should NEVER be used for
> the general
> election of the members of any assembly (city council,
> state legislature, state or federal parliament, House of
> Representatives or
> Senate).  All such assemblies should be elected by an
> appropriate PR voting system.

Ok, sorry for giving the opposite
impression. I was replying to several
streams and finding reasons behind why
people in two-party countries don't
like methods that may elect candidates
that have only 5% first place support.

> > This
> > approach works for two-party systems,
> > although PR of those two parties will not
> > be provided.
> Statements like this are commonly made, but are completely
> wrong, at least so far as FPTP (simple plurality) in
> single-member
> districts is concerned. 

My word "works" should be taken to mean
that voters are able to switch the rule
from one party to the other when they
think that should be done.

> Even when there are only two
> parties, not only is there no guarantee of PR of the two
> parties, but such
> voting systems create "electoral deserts" for
> both of the parties where they win no seats despite having
> lots of local support, give
> the election to the wrong party (occasionally), and leave
> about half of those who voted without representation. 

Yes, single-member districts do that.
(There could be still PR based
representation at national level but
it is typical that nearly 50% of the
voters do not have a local
representative that they would
consider "their own".)

> The
> importance of a
> small number of swing voters in a few marginal districts
> also has very serious and very bad political effects for the
> assembly and
> the government (if government is based in the assembly). 
> Given such results (repeatedly in the UK), it is completely
> unjustified to
> assert that such voting systems "work" in any
> real sense of the meaning of that word.

This sounds like criticism of
two-party systems in general. I also
tend to think that PR systems typically
work better. I have also interest to
develop the PR methods further. Now
they are too often stagnated in the
current positions of the parties and
their supporters, lacking ability to
change dynamically according to the
wishes of the voters. From this point
of view the interesting direction of
study is the ability of the voters to
influence the policy of the parties in
more detail and the support of
different directions within the party.

One concrete example today in many
countries is the dilemma of voters to
decide if they should vote Greens
(assuming that they have green
interests) or their own party. They
need to abandon either direction.
There are no easy and efficient means
(for voters who are active in politics
only in the elections) to drive their
own party in the green direction or to
get their own non-green views properly
represented within the green party.

Lack of this kind of features makes the
political system less responsive than what
it could be.


P.S. Note that the two-seat method that
I drafted does reduce gerrymandering,
does provide PR, does have quite local
representation and its philosophy is
to provide a representative to voters
of a party that didn't win a seat in a
district in some of the neighbouring
districts. (The described method didn't
guarantee that the representative would
be provided in a nearby district but one
could add also hierarchical districts in
the method and thereby make number of
representatives per each party
proportional also within such larger
areas.) I don't claim that the method
would be ideal, but it provides local
representation an PR in case someone
is interested in such solutions.


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list