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

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Wed Dec 24 07:09:59 PST 2008

Dave Ketchum > Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 6:11 AM
> Does "real likely" fit the facts?  Some thought:
>      Assuming 5 serious contenders they will average 3rd rank with CW doing 
> better (for 3, 2nd).  Point is that while some voters may rank the CW low, 
> to be CW it has to average toward first rank to beat the competition.
> Or, look at the other description of CW - to be CW it won all counts 
> comparing it with other candidates - for each the CW had to rank above the 
> other more often than the other ranked above the CW (cycles describe nt 
> having a CW).

Yes, I think "really likely" does fit the facts when the two big parties are nearly tied and together win most of the votes.
Parties and electors respond to the specifics of whatever voting system is in place for the particular election.  With any
preferential voting system for a single-office election, I think the Democrats and the Republicans would each put up only one
candidate.  They are not going to offer their supporters a choice: left wing and right wing, north and south, east coast and west
coast, or whatever.  The "middle" will not be so well organised.  If there really is a groundswell of support and a campaign to
break the two-party duopoly, it is (just) possible to imagine the "middle" coalescing around one candidate, but that candidate would
still be "weak" in first preferences compared to the candidates of the two big parties.  Maybe the middle would more likely be split
among three candidates, so the election would have five candidates.  Any "middle" candidate emerging as the Condorcet winner would
likely also be "weak" in first preferences.

Dave asked:
> Per your enthusiasm note, we see primaries as a normal way to decide on a 
> single candidate for each party in the general election.  How is this 
> handled in the UK - you agree the deciding needs doing.

I am well aware that primaries are part of "the US political system", but in the UK the selection of candidates is private and
internal matter for the parties.  Neither the state nor the public law is involved, beyond the law providing any party member with
an ultimate recourse to natural justice if they believe the party has failed to follow its own rules or has behaved corruptly.  Some
of the parties are very democratic (one member, one vote); some are, or have been, very oligarchic; and some employ complex internal
electoral colleges.  In some parties, the national leadership has a very big role, in others the decision is made mainly by the
district party.

Because all UK political parties must be legally registered for the purposes of elections (but only since 1998), any candidate who
wishes to use a party's name or one of its registered descriptions, on the ballot paper, MUST have his or her nomination paper
countersigned by that party's Nominating Officer (whose name and office is registered with the UK Electoral Commission).  This gives
the party leadership great control, no matter what the local selection process might be.


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