[EM] STV vs Party-list PR, could context matter?

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Sun Feb 19 01:24:23 PST 2012

On 02/19/2012 06:18 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> I have in mind European parliaments where coalitions are typically needed.
> In my opinion, coalitions require back-room compromises that most voters
> would not like (if they knew what those compromises were).
> I have not seen any parliamentary democracies in which voters are able
> to elect problem-solving leaders. Instead, special-interest puppets are
> elected.
> More specifically, European politicians seem to be as clueless as U.S.
> politicians about what is needed to "create jobs" and restore widespread
> economic prosperity.

Let me just say that, as a Norwegian, that does not match my experience 
at all.

Clearly, politics here isn't perfect. I would say that the current 
coalition's largest member (the Labor Party) holds certain positions 
about which the majority does not agree, and that said party uses its 
power as "a majority of a majority" (i.e. the largest - majority - party 
within the largest - majority - coalition) to push its own views through 
even when they're unpopular.

(I'm thinking of the Labor Party accepting (de jure optional) European 
Union regulations too readily, in particular, because the party likes 
the idea of the EU even though the union has been growing steadily less 
popular with the people due to the whole business with Greece.)

However, the coalition did manage to steer the country through the last 
(European/American-induced) economic turbulence without too much 
problem; and the Labor Party had to concede on some local-vs-central 
issues because of the nature of coalition government, whereas they 
probably would not have had to do so if they were the majority in a 
two-party state.

Instead, I'd say that the European problem is that the ones in power are 
trying to bite off too much. The European Union, in growing so quickly, 
had to be built on compromise at all costs, and that compromise has led 
to many solutions that only go some of the way. The Euro matter is a 
good example: the management of the currency (along with attendant 
financial policy) is partially centralized, partially decentralized, and 
that doesn't work. They also have their undemocratic, bureaucrat-ruled 
past to deal with, though they've come some way by giving some of the 
Commission's power to the Parliament.

> I agree that a lot can be accomplished without making this change.
> I also agree that there are no "unchangeable" laws that would prevent
> changing how voting is done in Congress.
> Yet special interests -- i.e. the biggest campaign contributors -- will
> never intentionally allow such changes -- because they know how to
> control ("rig") the system under the current laws/rules.

That seems to say that you can't expect the rules to change to favor 
third parties first, because under the current system, the campaign 
contributors would want the status quo to prevail.

So you'd have to weaken the power of the campaign contributors. And how 
would you do so? Perhaps by competition?

I guess the risky part would be that you get multipartyism, and then the 
rules don't work, and then instead of the coalitions altering the rules 
so that they *do* work (now that campaign contributors can't buy all the 
parties off), the people say "oh, it's not working, let's return to the 
old lesser-evil system -- at least that did work".

Is that something like what you're imagining?

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list