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

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Wed Dec 24 15:49:24 PST 2008

Markus Schulze  > Sent: Wednesday, December 24, 2008 9:24 PM
> > James Gilmour wrote (24 Dec 2008):
> > IRV has been used for public elections for many decades
> > in several countries.  In contrast, despite having been around for 
> > about 220 years, the Condorcet voting system has not been used in any 
> > public elections anywhere, so far as I am aware.  That could perhaps 
> > change if a threshold were implemented to exclude the possibility
> > of a weak Condorcet winner AND if a SIMPLE method were
> > agreed to break Condorcet cycles.
> I don't agree to your proposal to introduce a threshold
> (of first preferences) to Condorcet to make Condorcet
> look more like IRV.

Markus - this was NOT a proposal made by ME.  I was merely speculating (following earlier comments by others) that IF a solution
could be found to the weak winner problem and IF a simple solution could be agreed to deal with (rare) cycles, then perhaps
Condorcet might be considered a contender for public elections in a way that it has not been for the past 220 years.

> I don't think that it makes much sense to try to find
> a Condorcet method that looks as much as possible like
> IRV or as much as possible like Borda. The best method according to 
> IRV's underlying heuristic will always be IRV; the best method 
> according to the underlying heuristic of the Borda method will always 
> be the Borda method. It makes more sense to propose a Condorcet
> method that stands on its own legs.

I agree with you.  IRV has a significant political defect, but the empirical evidence is that electors and politicians will accept
IRV despite that defect.  So far as I am concerned, Borda is out of the window.  Leaving cycles to one side, the problem for
Condorcet remains that there is no "Condorcet solution" to the weak winner problem, or at least, I've never seen one suggested by
any Condorcet advocate.  Indeed, it has previously been impossible to get any advocate of Condorcet even to acknowledge that the
weak winner might be a real POLITICAL problem.  A similar political problem would confront any other voting system that would allow
a "weak winner" to come through.  It is one thing to discuss voting systems in a theoretical vacuum, it is quite another to achieve
practical reform in the real world.  Theoretical discussion is desirable and necessary, but right now, practical reform of the
voting system is more urgent, and in more countries of the world than I like to think about.


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