[EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Feb 10 15:53:49 PST 2012

On 10.2.2012, at 16.55, David L Wetzell wrote:

>>  But I'd argue that to make our two-party system work better, we need to provide a constructive role for 3rd parties in it.  This wd be accomplished by the use of 3-seat LR Hare in state reps elections.  If the Hare quota is used in the "more local" election and the Droop quota is used in the "less local" election, like the US congressional elections then we'll keep a two-party system.   An analogous case could be made for the use of Hare quotas in aldermen elections and Droop quotas in city council member elections.  But without giving third parties a constructive role to play, we're never going to be able to enforce regulations of $peech.  
>> The kicker needs to be to separate the advocacy for such from a perfectionist approach that presumes we need an EU-style multi-party system ASAP.  When those are connected, too many people say it's not possible and down-grade it's short-run importance as an issue.  
> JL:I agree. From tactical point of view one can drive the reform forward in many more or less hidden ways. But if we talk directly about the targets, I believe an attempt to establish an improved two-party system where also third parties can survive, challenge the current parties, and maybe even bypass them one day and become a new dominant party if the current dominat parties are not good enough, will have a different supporter basis than a proposal to switch completely to a multi-party system with coalition governments etc.
> dlw: The kicker also is to figure out who'd benefit from a contested duopoly and get them to fund it's initial push.  The difficulty of doing such may be why FairVote seems to have dialed back its push for proportionality in representation, as indicated by Richie's NYTIMES editorial.  

Unfortunately normally those parties that are currently in power benefit most of not making any changes to the system. That means that in additon to getting (automatically) the support of the third parties and independents you have to convince the general opinion, media, one of the major parties or some other major interest groups (money?).

IRV favours large parties, and also it can therefore be seen as a two-party method that allows third parties to run. Since it favours large parties, it is one of the easiest methods to market to the two old major parties. Proportional representation should be harder to sell to them since it changes the party space more.

>> JL: The message I'm trying to carry with this, is simply that after one names the targets, it is much easier to discuss what the best methods to implement those targets would be. Is it a two-party system, a flexible two-party system, or a proportional system, and are the targets different at different levels and in different bodies.
>> dlw:I agree, would you agree that if we were to target a flexible 2-party system that a modified form of IRV would be more acceptable for single-winner elections than in an EU-style multi-party system?   
> Pure single-winner elections have a strong (fixed) two-party tendency. An "approximately three-party" method would make the system more flexible. Full proportional multi-party elections would be an overkill. If you want to have a more flexible two-party system the ideal methods are methods that are targeted to meet just these requirements. Proportional methods with limitations to e.g. three candidates could do in some cases, no problem with taht, but only if they happen to implement teh agreed "flexibel two-party" targets well.
> dlw: You didn't really answer my question.  If PR with limitations inevitably gets coupled with single-winner elections in the pursuit of a flexible 2-party system then wd an Approval-Voting enhanced form of IRV help us reach the target?  Burlington VT shows that the top 2 parties can get changed by the use of IRV, and (at least part of) the former major party wd remain a sizeable minor party that could contest the duopoly relatively easily.  

IRV can be said to be a flexible 2-party method (at least in that direction), and it can elect outside the two main parties. It has its problems, but it is a possible stepping stone towards better flexible 2-party methods.

I'm not really a friend of Approval. The voters may face bad dilemmas when the support of a third party candidate grows to the level of one of the two old major parties. Because of its problems it may discourage people to continue the reform even more than IRV failures do.

Modified PR methods are ok too (as stepping stones). Maybe people that don't want to follow the PR path feel discomfortable with them (since they could be easily be modified to become full PR methods).

> From: Juho Laatu <juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk>
> To: EM list <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
> Cc: 
> Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2012 22:07:20 +0200
> Subject: Re: [EM] Utilitarianism and Perfectionism.
> As I earlier wrote, I think the US has many options on how to go forward with the reform. The presidential election is maybe the most interetsting one. If one uses Condorcet, that means that the president may come from a minor party or be independent. Let's say that there is an independent gentleman candidate whome republicans prefer to the democrat candidate and vice versa. That candidate wins. Now the problem is that this candidate has no supporting party machinery, and he is supposed to form a government and nominate numerous people to other major positions. It seems that the role of the president would change considerably from what it is today.
> But to change the prez elections so much is not easy.  It wd probably require a constitutional amendment.  Isn't it better to focus on changes at the state level, after getting the current law prohibiting the use of multi-seat elections for fed'l elections ruled as unconstitutional on account of its discriminatory effects against minorities.   

Yes, it is probably easiest to start from small towns or cities and then grow.

> The softer approach is to use some advanced method but allow only representatives of major parties to win. One example of such a method is to first use a rankings based proportional method to pick two of the candidates, and then arrange a runoff between these two. This method would allow people to vote also for third party and independent candidates, just like in Condorcet. But the gentleman of the earlier example would probably not be elected. If there is a third party that has almost as many first preference supporters (or "above dem/rep" supporters), then the candidate of that party could win.
> dlw: How is this preferable to the use of IRV+, presuming that the US system as a whole continues to foster the existence of two major parties?   

The first thing in my mind is that in IRV the serial elimination process may eliminate some candidates too early.
15: X>D
15: Y>D
15: Z>D
10: D
45: R
R wins.


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