[EM] (Kevin Venzke) and Richard Fobes.

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Thu Feb 23 14:24:11 PST 2012

Kristofer Munsterhjelm asks: "... why do you propose rules that would 
make it harder for third parties to grow?" ...

What I promote is VoteFair ranking.  It includes a PR-related portion -- 
called VoteFair partial-proportional ranking -- that gives 
representation to third parties that represent enough voters.  This 
aspect of VoteFair ranking specifically makes it easier (not harder) for 
third parties to grow.

I realize that in this forum I have not fully explained all aspects of 
VoteFair ranking (not that I haven't tried).  At this point I'll say 
that I'm in the process of creating content that I'll post online later, 
and that should better clarify how VoteFair ranking works.  In the 
meantime the clearest explanation of VoteFair ranking is in my book 
"Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections", which can be viewed in 
Google books.

BTW, a major overlooked barrier to third parties (at least in the U.S.) 
is that a major party typically adopts a position after a third party 
reveals the position to be popular.

Richard Fobes

On 2/23/2012 10:55 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 02/20/2012 04:03 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> On 2/19/2012 1:04 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>>> On 02/19/2012 06:04 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>>>> ...
>>>> Here is a link to a "map" of the U.S. political system as I see it:
>>>> http://www.votefair.org/pencil_metaphor.html
>>>> "If the Republican party and the Democratic party are at opposite ends
>>>> of a pencil, most of the voters are way above the pencil. Both parties
>>>> are pulled down away from the voters by the money coming from the
>>>> biggest campaign contributors."
>>>> ...
>>> I like third parties, so let me use a business metaphor. Say you have a
>>> monopoly. This monopoly has market-making power, so it can set prices as
>>> it wants and produce worse goods than it actually would.
>> > ... <more below>
>> I agree with your point that monopolies are weakened by competition.
>> And I agree that a third party could weaken the two main parties.
> If you agree with all of that, then why do you propose rules that would
> make it harder for third parties to grow? Single-member districts based
> on majority rule give representation to the majority, not to the
> minorities from which a third party might grow. Even a "real" majority
> method (like Condorcet) would have this property -- because it handles
> multiple candidates better, more may run, but it would still exclude
> some of the positions.
> On the other hand, multiwinner rules (and systems similar in spirit if
> not in mechanism, like MMP, Fair Majority, and PAL) try to achieve
> proportionality not just of the majority view, and so can give third
> parties the ability to enter without having to start at the exact proper
> position to attract a majority right off.
> It's unfortunate that the U.S. third parties don't understand the
> opportunity that they could get if they adopt advanced methods. Yet that
> should strengthen the case for a proportional system, so that when a
> party that does things right comes along, it is not hindered by the
> system itself. Ideally, political judgement should come from the voters
> alone. That kind of perfection is not attainable in practice, but some
> methods are better at getting out of the way of what the voters want.
>> I'm not discounting the power of third parties.
>> Rather, I'm picturing how things will be later, after the transitions
>> have occurred. How will things be done after the dust settles, when
>> things have (relatively in terms of the issues we are now dealing with)
>> stabilized?
> I see that, and I understand that national rules favoring major parties
> could make true multipartyism seem unappealing to the voters. If the
> system or Congressional rules badly break when there are more than two
> parties, then when one gets more than two, the new viable third parties
> could get the blame.
> On the other hand, we pretty much know the big two won't alter the rules
> to be more supportive of the third parties. They've got nothing to gain
> and everything to lose. So if national rules really are a problem, it'd
> seem one could get around it by adopting a strategy similar to that of
> the old PR leagues: that is, to try on a local level. If the reform
> manages to survive there, and people start asking for the same things to
> happen on a closer to national level, then I think it'd be a lot more
> likely that the rules would change than that the blame would be assigned
> to the new entrants. The people would (after all) know that a situation
> of multiple parties did work locally.
> That strategy is not perfect, either. Just as what happened with PR, the
> vested interests may hit back while the reform is in its early stage.
> But if the chance that they'd succeed is less than the chance that the
> reform would be destroyed by rule incompatibility when going
> national-first, one shouldn't go national-first. I don't know US
> politics enough to say what is the best strategy, or rather, what
> opposition would hit the reform hardest.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list