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

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Wed Feb 29 14:02:41 PST 2012

On 02/20/2012 03:34 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> On 2/19/2012 1:24 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>  > On 02/19/2012 06:18 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>  >> ...
>  >> 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.
> Ah, indeed Norway has a better political system than the "main" European
> nations (France, Germany, Spain, etc.). Also, oil exports put Norway in
> a much better position economically than what's going on here in the
> U.S. (and tighter budgets result in greater dysfunctionality). And,
> culturally, Norwegians seem to be enlightened more so than many other
> countries.

I won't deny that oil exports help, but the other Scandinavian/Nordic 
countries seem to be doing well, too. For instance, the Wikipedia 
article on Sweden's economy says that "the government budget has 
improved dramatically from a record deficit of more than 12% of GDP in 
1993", and from 1998 to present, has run a surplus in every year except 
2003 and 2004.. The US public debt, on the other hand, is around 60% of GDP.

As for the people being more enlightened, do you think politics could 
have a feedback effect in that respect? One could imagine that a more 
civil state of politics, more focused on issues rather than who's 
electable or who can sling words in one-on-one debates the best, could 
in turn lead the people to be more interested in actual politics.

(On the other hand, Warren does say the actual improvement due to 
democracy may be minor and that it's only compounding over time that 
makes democracies much better that non-democracies. He uses an example 
of Pakistan and what became the US having comparably similarly sized 
economies 300 years ago, but now the US's GDP/capita is 19 times that of 
Pakistan, which works out to about a 1% greater annual growth rate for 
the US.)

> The need for Norway to resist the European Union in its effort to "bite
> off too much" underscores my point about European nations, on average --
> which implies a lack of wise leadership in both the EU and the countries
> that dominate the EU.

I get the impression that, although some people wanted political 
integration from the start, the EU has mainly grown by exceeding its 
scope and then formalizing its new extended scope. It started off being 
special-purpose (as the European Coal and Steel Community), then grew 
from there into/was absorbed by the European Economic Community 
(depending on how you look at it). At that point, it had its own inertia 
and was no longer unambiguously subordinate to the national leadership.

This is not a pattern unique to the EU. I think that has happened in the 
US, as well, although there the political climate may have supported the 
organizations' expansion, particularly in the cases of the DHS and TSA.

One could of course say that the politicians have failed in reining in 
the Union's expansion of scope. To the degree they had a responsibility 
to keep the Union from growing, that is true. What I'm trying to say is 
that the Union is not without its internal dynamics: it did not simply 
rest while the politicians encouraged it to grow, but the bureaucracy 
had its own reasons to expand.

> A point about the EU: Personally I think that creating the Eurodollar as
> a monetary unit that is represented in currency was a mistake. Before
> the Eurodollar was instituted, I publicly (in "The Futurist" magazine)
> suggested that something called a "Unidollar" should be created as a
> monetary unit that is defined in a way that does not inflate or deflate
> with respect to tangible "things" and services, but without being
> available as a tangible currency. That would allow people in different
> countries to talk about monetary amounts in Unidollars without having to
> know the conversion rate for the country of the person they are talking
> to. (They only have to know the conversion rate between their country's
> currency and the Unidollar.)

Would that be like the IMF special drawing rights? Perhaps a little, but 
if it were to be inflation-neutral, it would have to be adjusted, 
somehow. Things and services would still have different Unidollar prices 
in different economies, so the comparison would be limited.

> The fact that the EU leaders didn't anticipate the possibility of
> Greek and Italian (and other) defaults before they even instituted
> the common currency (and did not realize that just asking new EU
> nations to make a promise to spend taxpayers' money wisely, with no
> real way to back up those promises) reveals a lack of wisdom.

I agree. Compromises sometimes fail to help either party, and moreso if 
the consequences haven't been considered thoroughly.

> As for the U.S., the biggest (but not the only) election unfairness
> occurs in primary elections as a result of vote splitting. "Special
> interests" -- the people who give the largest amounts of money to
> election campaigns -- have learned to give money to candidates in the
> primary elections of _both_ the Republican party and the Democratic
> party (as needed), and give additional support to "spoiler" candidates
> when needed. The result is that the money-backed candidate in each
> party's primary election wins, and then it doesn't much matter whether
> the Republican or the Democrat wins the "general election".

I thought that kind of spoiler funding, at least in the "general 
election", was a rare thing. Is it more widespread in primaries?

> Simply getting one political party or the other to use a fairer voting
> method (any of the ones supported by the Declaration of Election-Method
> Reform Advocates) in the primary elections would greatly improve the
> ability of voters to elect problem-solving leaders -- instead of
> special-interest puppets. (After one party adopts such fairer primary
> elections, the other party would soon have to do the same or else risk
> losing lots of support.)

I agree that it would help. The better the method, the closer the 
candidate that comes out of the election is to what the primary voters 
actually want. I am not sure how one would go about introducing a better 
method to a party, however. If one does so to a third party, it doesn't 
matter because the third party can't win without a change in the rules 
of the general election. On the other hand, if one does so to a major 
party, the major party leaders are probably already quite happy with the 
distortion of the current primary in the direction of special-interest 
puppets -- so long as the leaders get their share of the special 
interest spoils.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list