[EM] Re et al Chicken and Egg
km_elmet at lavabit.com
Wed Jan 25 09:34:32 PST 2012
I think we're reaching the end of this thread, as I'm not all that
interested in continuing further. It's relatively clear that changing
your position will take a lot of work, and to put it simply, "I'm not
getting paid enough for this" :-) I have recently had other things to
focus on, as you may have noticed in my lack of posting to EM of late.
Let me reply to one of your concerns, and then I'll finish with an
argument against IRV, based on the point of view of the voters. If you
want to reply with your own "closing statement", go ahead and do so; I
don't think I will continue.
You say there is something to American exceptionalism, so it isn't
unreasonable to put the US on one side and everything else on the other
side of the PR line.
There might have been a case for American exceptionalism in 1787, but
the United States is now hardly unique in having a presidential system,
or even a strong presidential system. Other nations have been inspired
by the United States' form of government, and so presidentialism has
spread (although, to my knowledge, there are still more parliamentary
nations than there are presidential ones).
Let's look at the Wikipedia list of republics considered to have a
presidential system of government
(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presidentialism). From the beginning, we
have "Afghanistan, Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia,
Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican Republic,
Ecuador", and so on.
Intersecting Wikipedia's list with the PR list of my previous posts
gives an intersection of Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominican
Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Paraguay, Peru, Sri Lanka, Suriname,
and Uruguay. Thus, I don't think you can justify putting the United
States on one side of your historical specificity line and all the PR
nations on the other.
These are not weak presidential republics either. In Colombia, a favored
approach of past presidents (like Lleras Restropo) was to construct
autonomous quasi-governmental organizations, and then give them power.
These organizations were designed to be accountable to the executive,
but not to the legislature. A similar approach was used in Brazil.
Again, quoting Wikipedia: "In Brazil, presidents have accomplished their
objectives by creating executive agencies over which Congress had no
say". So I do not think you can say they only have figurehead presidents
and so don't count, either.
Where they do differ (whether they're Latin American, like Colombia, or
not, like Cyprus), is that they don't have two huge parties and a bunch
of tiny parties looking for scraps at the table. I think that is a point
where the United States is genuinely different, but I also think that
the reason they are is because the US has neither PR not a good
To claim that the United States can't use PR or advanced voting methods
because it has two+tiny parties while the rest of the world does not is
to confuse cause and effect. The reason there are two parties is because
so few people want to throw their vote away in such an important contest
as a Presidential one is. That is an artifact of the Plurality system.
As a consequence, it becomes vitally important for parties and
candidates to appear to be electable, and the way they accomplish this
is to spend lots of money on very expensive media coverage and on the
whole primary and electoral circus. Thus, it takes a lot of money just
to overcome the barrier of he-won't-be-elected-anyway. Any method that
goes wrong when third parties enter the scene would keep this bug (to
the extent that it does go wrong with third parties present), because
the candidates still have to spend a lot of money to signal the
strategic voters that they are electable -- that the strategists should
rank at least him honestly.
In concluding the above: Presidential, even strongly presidential
systems with PR do exist. That they don't have extremely expensive
primary and presidential races should not be used to claim historical
specificity, because that is specificity of the influence of monied
interests - part of the what we're trying to change. Instead, it should
be used as evidence that strongly presidential systems don't need to
waste money on a grand scale; and that multipartyism helps keep the need
for such waste down.
So, my voters' argument. I'll focus on the people in general and the
people-as-voters in particular, because it is for the sake of the voters
that we're doing this. It is the people that benefit when the system
elects representatives that represent them. It is the people that
benefit when a single-winner method picks a good winner; and it is the
people that ultimately benefit from better governance less encumbered by
plutocratic influence, as well.
I'll argue that multiparty democracy is more in line with what the
voters actually want. To add strength to my claim that the voters do not
prefer two-party situations, I'll go in two directions. First, that
non-official results show that people "vote" (express their opinions) in
a way significantly less polar when they don't have to compromise to
elect the lesser of two evils; and second, that where proportional
representation methods have been used, both nationally in other
countries and locally in the United States, the result has been a growth
of many parties, consistent with multipartyism.
Since IRV does not give multiparty democracy (and you have said as much,
and that it isn't what you want anyway), and the voters express their
desires in a way as to support multipartyism, that counts against IRV.
Then I'll refer to that the advanced methods don't have the center
squeeze problem of IRV. I'll go further and state more general
conditions where the advanced methods do well, so as to support that the
advanced methods don't act as a patched-up IRV ("IRV 1.1") that just
hides the most immediate problem of IRV the way IRV acts as a "Plurality
1.1" that hides the most immediate problem of Plurality.
Finally, I'll conclude that, based on the above, IRV requires that
voters twist their votes into an IRV shape merely to get an acceptable
result in just the setting where third parties are growing large,
whereas the advanced methods do not; or that third parties have to
intentionally decide to stay minor to spare the voters of this, whereas
that is not the case for the advanced methods. Further, I'll point out
that IRV can't justify demanding this of the voters and parties, because
it doesn't produce results closer to the multipartyism the voters want
than does the advanced methods. Therefore, IRV is worse than the
advanced methods twice over, and so I cannot support it even if the
other arguments not detailed here were to be invalidated.
Without further ado, the meat:
1.1. According to their preferences, the people prefer multipartyism to
This is where my reference to the Orsay exit poll, the other French and
German studies, as well as the two United States exit polls, all shown
on Rangevoting, come into play. The Orsay exit poll (but also the other
exit polls) show that the people of France and Germany vote in a manner
consistent with multiparty preference, while the United States exit
polls and studies show that while the United States voters don't vote
for third parties to the extent that those parties would win, they
nevertheless vote (or express preference) for third parties and
candidates to a much greater extent than in the official count.
When I direct your attention to the Approval voting polls (telephone
polls, etc.) in the United States, my point is not that Anderson came
second. As you say, you don't get a seat for coming in second. My point
*is* that the voters vote in such a way as to show that candidates not
officially blessed also have some popularity. Stripping away the
strategic distortion caused by Plurality, we see that "no-hopers" have
some support. What is keeping them down is a catch where they have to be
seen as electable to win or gain further support, but can't be seen as
electable unless they have a great chance of winning.
In my other posts, I have quantified this tendency in terms of effective
number of candidates, at least for the European polls.
1.2. According to the outcomes, the people prefer multipartyism to
Internationally, I need only point to the countries that have
proportional representation. If the people wanted a two-party situation
in a PR nation, they would only have to vote for the two largest parties
to establish that situation. That does happen in some places; most
notably, in Malta. Malta uses STV, yet has only two parties. In Malta,
the voters only make use of 5-seat STV's capacity for intra-party
competition, but not of the capacity for inter-party competition. See
more at http://aceproject.org/ace-en/topics/es/esy/esy_mt .
Even in elections for single seats, this pattern appears to be true.
When the voters are given a single seat method that can elect candidates
from multiple parties, the voters make use of that capacity. To avoid
appearing to construct a tautology or to beg the question, I will
specify that more clearly: the method is being used in more than ten
nations (so you can't claim one-nation micronumerosity), and in more
than two thirds of the nations where it is used, that nation has a
I am, of course, talking about top-two runoff voting. According to
http://rangevoting.org/TTRvIRVstats.html, there are 27 runoff-using
nations, and 21 of these are multiparty. (If you wish to argue Warren is
wrong, go ahead and do so.)
Within the United States, I point to New York under STV. In New York
under STV, the voters made use of the capacity of STV to provide for
multipartyism and voted (and got results) which let multiple parties get
on the assembly. This significantly weakened the party machines, who
immediately countered but only got STV repealed after battering down
public opinion by the card of red-baiting. This is why the New York STV
example matters more than your proverbial hill of beans, and this is why
I am surprised you do not look at it when you talk about historical
specificity. It shows that American voters also avail themselves of the
capacity for multipartyism when they have the instruments by which to do so.
Indeed, the leaders of the New York county Republican party had no
illusion about this as they worked with Tammany Hall against PR, calling
PR "a threat to the two party system" (
2.1. The advanced methods (most Condorcet methods, as well as MJ,
Approval, and Range) do not suffer from center squeeze under honest voting.
This is very easy to check. One may simply go to Ka-Ping Yee's
one-dimensional Gaussian vothing method visualization and push the wings
closer to the center. In Plurality, the center vanishes quickly. In IRV,
the center lasts a little longer, but first it splinters
nonmonotonically, and eventually it fails altogether when the center
does not have enough first place votes to outlast the wings. That
happens even in a completely symmetrical situation where the major
parties are equally far from the center, "clustered around it".
In contrast, both the rated/approval methods and Condorcet methods elect
the candidate closest to the middle-most voter (in ratings, possibly as
weighted by strength of preference). This is a reasonably fair standard,
because one can imagine left-wing voters "canceling out" right-wing
voters until the centermost remains.
In fact, Condorcet methods will always be impervious to center squeeze
in a left-right situations like the above. I'll get to that later. Some
Condorcet methods may behave strangely in higher dimensions (such as a
contrived "CW if there is one, otherwise the Plurality winner" method),
but most will degrade gracefully.
The theoretical result can also be empirically verified in two cases.
First, the Burlington election of 2009: all the Condorcet methods picked
Montroll, as would Range under certain assumptions (of monotonically
decreasing ratings). Second, by ranked votes from a French exit poll in
Faches-Thumesnil and Nord in 2007, Condorcet methods elect Bayrou (as
does Range and MJ using the Orsay data from another exit poll in the
same election), whereas IRV sides with
Plurality and elects Sarkozy. See
http://rangevoting.org/French2007studies.html for more.
I will point out that I am not talking about dynamics. This part of the
argument is about the voters not needing to learn to vote for the
stronger wing, or the minor parties not needing to stay out of the way
if the voters don't learn.
2.2. The advanced methods are significantly less impacted by adding or
removing candidates than is IRV and Plurality.
For the rated methods of Range and MJ in particular, as well as for
Approval, this is also simple to see. When the voters are honest and
rate according to an objective standard, these methods pass a
rated-version variant of IIA. This means that if you add or remove a
candidate X, that doesn't alter the winner unless the winner used to be
X (in case of removal) or X is now the new winner (in case of adding
candidates). Thus, no amount of extra candidates can make the method
misuse honest voters' votes to squeeze out the center. I think that this
particular variant of IIA is stronger for MJ than Range, since MJ
suggests voters compare the candidates to a common graded standard and
gives less incentive for voters to deviate from that standard, whereas
in Range, normalization may be considered honest (and so the IIA variant
For the monotonicity-fixed SODA, as it is based on Approval, it passes
an analogous version of IIA. If a new candidate appears, either the old
winner will keep winning, that new candidate will win, or a candidate
preferred to the old winner on the new candidate's delegation order will
For Condorcet, the details are more complex. In a left-right scenario,
as one might expect when third parties are just getting off the ground,
Black's single-peakedness theorem shows that the Condorcet winner will
always be the candidate closest to the median as defined above, no
matter the amount of other candidates and their positions. Since maximum
likelihood estimation over relatively simple error models imply
Condorcet while IRV can only be considered an MLE if you make the error
model very complex indeed, I think voter uncertainty will drag IRV
further from this in reality than it will drag Condorcet.
But perhaps that is not enough. In that case, I refer to James Green
Armytage's paper on voting strategy,
In it, James proves that when there is a Condorcet winner, Condorcet
methods are vulnerable to neither exit nor entry (candidates being
removed or added). Furthermore, his computer simulation results indicate
that minimax (which is not even cloneproof, but is Condorcet) provides
nearly no incentive for strategic entry or exit, but IRV's incentive to
strategic exit increases with the number of candidates, and eventually
reaches Plurality's in the case of single-candidate exit.
Thus, I reason that the advanced methods are not simply patches to IRV;
their improvements with regards to candidate exit and entry, and
resistance to center squeeze, are general (not specific), and don't lose
power as the number of candidates is increased further.
3.1. IRV requires that either votes twist their votes into an IRV shape
to get an acceptable result, or that parties intentionally stay small to
avoid the conditions where the voters have to do so, or both.
This follows from the center-squeeze vulnerability shown in 2. In order
to avoid center squeeze, either the third parties can stay far enough
away that their votes can't make the wrong winner win, or the votes can
vote as if the third parties were that minor.
Burlington provides an example of what happens when the voters don't and
the parties don't, either. You've said that it did, but you claim that
dynamics will fix it. Those dynamics don't counter this point, since the
dynamics take the shape of voters or parties altering their behavior to
accomodate IRV in a similar, though somewhat reduced manner, to how
voters or parties alter their behavior to accomodate Plurality.
3.2. IRV doesn't give multipartyism.
This is not contended by you, and it is a simple consequence of the
nature of IRV. If IRV breaks to center-squeeze when third parties become
too large, and the countermeasure is for either the parties to be small
enough that IRV doesn't fail, or for the voters to act as if the parties
were, then the parties can never by themselves grow large enough to lead
to multi-party rule within the area of the IRV election in question.
Further evidence can be seen, though scarce as it is, by that all the
nations that use IRV have two-party rule where IRV is used. Australia
has two-party (or two-and-a-half party, since the NatLib coalition is
pretty much a party) rule in its IRV body. You have not disputed this,
but you have argued that this would be countered in the non-IRV bodies
that would use PR but would not give multipartyism in general. Also, in
Fiji before the military coup, the system was coalescing to two-party
rule despite being in the context of a diverse nation, and despite
ethnic quotas. See http://rangevoting.org/FijiPol.html for that data.
3.3. Therefore, IRV fails twice.
By 3.1., IRV imposes demands on voters and/or on parties that the
advanced methods do not. That counts once against IRV, but it wouldn't
by itself be so bad IRV could justify that demand by providing better
outcomes in return. However, it does not. By 3.2., IRV fails to give the
multiparty outcomes that voters appear to want (as established in 1.).
Therefore, at the very best, IRV is no better than the advanced methods
in bringing about multipartyism, and realistically (supported by the
presence of single-office voting rules that actually do give
multipartyism), IRV is worse than the advanced methods.
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