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

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Fri Dec 26 14:17:50 PST 2008

An exchnage that escaped the list - acccidentally.

> > > > --- On Thu, 12/25/08, James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote:
> > >  > 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".

Aaron Armitage  > Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 11:26 PM
> > > That depends on how soon after the switch this election happens.
> > > Getting "5% of the vote" is not a meaningful concept in a Condorcet
> > > election; the meaningful concept is getting X% vs. a particular other
> > > candidate.

James Gilmour replied
> > Nowhere did I or other previous contributors to this discussion say 
> > anything about getting "5% of the vote".  What I (and others)
> > wrote (as shown above) was 5% of the first preference
> > votes.  That is an important difference, but your next
> > comments suggests that you may not think so.

Aaron Armitage   > Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 7:40
> I do see is as an important difference, in such a way as to preclude the
> use you're making of the first preferences. So to me it looks exactly
> like you're treating 5% of the voters ranking a candidate over every
> other candidate as getting 5% in the plurality sense.

This not about MY view.  The background to this recent discussion was about the "political" acceptability of a weak Condorcet winner
to ordinary electors.  I said I thought a strong third-place Condorcet winner would be "politically" acceptable.  But I had, and
still have, real doubts about the "political" acceptability to ordinary electors (at least in the UK) of a weak Condorcet winner.  I
am also concerned about the political consequences of a weak Condorcet winner being elected to a powerful public office.  My fear is
that the weak winner will be made into a weak and ineffectual office-holder by the forces ranged against him or her from all sides,
and because the office-holder was a weak winner, he or she will not have real support from the electors, despite being a true
Condorcet winner.

I am well aware that this may be considered a "plurality" way of looking at the voting patterns and at the outcome of the Condorcet
election, but that is the political reality we face in campaigning for reform of the voting systems.

AA contd:
> In a Condorcet
> context, the question isn't how many rankings over every possible
> alternative a candidate has, but how many rankings over this or that
> particular alternative. We should be asking that question anyway; using
> non-Condorcet methods means putting A in office despite knowing that a
> majority voted B > A. Unless we're introducing some formal recognition of
> preference strength (e.g., the extra vote I suggested in the other 
> e-mail, CWP, or Range proper), there's no good reason to do that.

> > > It's only by thinking in terms of plurality thatthis looks
> > > like a problem, because in plurality you're "voting for" one candidate
> > > rather than ranking them, a conception of voting that IRV 
> > > retains despite the fact that it allows multiple rankings.

> > It is not a question of my thinking in terms of plurality 
> > -  that is where our electors (UK and USA) are coming from.  It is my
> > experience (nearly five decades of campaigning) that UK
> > electors attach great importance to their first preference. You may say
> > that's the result of bad conditioning, but if we want
> > to achieve real reform of the voting systems used in public elections, these
> > are the political inconveniences we have to accommodate.

> Well, I haven't spent very much time talking to UK voters, much less 50
> years (having been alive only a little over half that long), but I
> haven't had any trouble selling ordinary Americans on Condorcet.

But does the weak Condorcet winner feature in those discussions?  How happy would your electors be with a really weak Condorcet
winner?  And of course, because there is (at least, as yet) no great public campaign for Condorcet or one that looks as if it might
make real progress, you have not had to face the forces opposed to reform of your voting systems.  To see who they are and how
effective their dirty tracks will be, just look at how they got rid of STV-PR from all the US cities bar one in the 1930s and 1940s.

> I suspect you're playing up the LNHs.

I don't know about "playing up" LNH.  LNH is important to me personally. but more importantly, it seems also be important to
significant numbers of UK electors.  I have no evidence for this, but it seems to me quite possible that our electors' desire for
LNH in the operation of the voting system and their likely "political" rejection of a weak Condorcet winner are in some way linked,
reflecting the same basic view of how elections should work.


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