[EM] Public parties: a Trojan Horse in the party system

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Fri Jul 13 01:01:41 PDT 2012

To Metagov, (cc Election Methods) [WIK]

This is a proposal to the Metagovernment community to organize, fund
and equip a network of public parties.  A public party is a decision
body that issues decisions in the same *form* as a political party,
but with the content, instead, of public opinion.  Like a political
party, it runs candidates for office; but because those candidates are
actually chosen by the public at large, they tend always to win.  I
propose using this argument of inevitable success to leverage the
resources needed to make it happen. [ACK]

A public party has two formal mechanisms that it shares in common with
political parties.  Like all parties, it has both a primary electoral
system and a primary legislative system.  The primary electoral system
is the mechanism that decides which candidates to place on the ballot
(single winner) or on the party list (multi-winner); while the primary
legislative system is the mechanism that decides which bills to floor
in the assembly.

  * Primary electoral system
  * Primary legislative system

With these two mechanisms, the public party is able to run candidates
in the election and floor bills in the legislature.  Electors are able
to vote for the candidates of the public party (single winner) or the
party itself (multi-winner) with the expectation that, should the
party win overall, the legislative agenda of the party will become
that of the government.

Although the public party has the form of a political party in certain
aspects, it has none of its substance.  It exercises no control over
the party nominees, candidates or elected officials.  It employs no
force, or threat of force.  Even when it wins the overall election, it
holds no power.

  * Never controls the nominees, candidates or elect
  * Never holds power

Instead of engaging in politics and holding power, the public party
opens itself to the public and becomes identical to the public in its
essentials.  Since freedom of expression is essential to the public,
and since voting is a form of expression, the party imposes no
restrictions on voting in its primaries.  It imposes no restrictions
on when, where or how people cast their ballots.  It frees up the
temporal restrictions (when) through techniques of continual voting
and results publication.  It frees up the spatial and formal (where,
how) through vote translation and vote mirroring. [VM]

  * Voting is free of restrictions, as in free speech
  * Everyone is invited to participate

The public party strives to increase its primary turnout by all means.
This includes mirroring the votes of would-be competitors (other
public parties) such that turnout is effectively pooled among them.
By focusing their efforts on this goal, while steering clear of
anything that might offend a potential elector, the public parties are
likely to succeed in building a primary turnout that at least *rivals*
that of the political parties, encumbered as they are by inconvenient
voting restrictions, disgruntled members and a disillusioned
population.  Long before that point, each public party is likely to
benefit from the following chain of events:

  1. Primary electors of the public party nominate the nominees of the
     political parties.  Each nominee in a *political* primary is now,
     willee-nillee, also a contestant in a general, public primary.

  2. The continually published results of the public primary now
     provide the most accurate available prediction of the future
     election.  They are like futures in a public electoral market.

  3. The news media report these "electoral futures".

  4. Concerned for the relative standing of their nominees in the
     upcoming election, and eager to support them with their votes,
     the political party members are drawn to the public primary.

  5. The turnout in the public primary overtakes and overshoots that
     of the political primaries.

  6. The public primary runs till election day, with the assumed
     accuracy of the predicted results improving asymptotically.

  7. The prediction becomes a fact.  The primary winners are now the
     official winners.

But they were also the candidates of the public party, each having
been previously confirmed as the choice of the public in the primary.
It will now be generally understood, therefore, that the public party
will tend to win all elections.

What does this mean?  It means that political parties are no longer
relevant to elections.  Their decisions can have little bearing on the
outcome, because knowledge of the outcome now precedes their actions.
It used to matter greatly who a party sponsored, for instance, but now
it hardly matters at all.  The party wants a candidate with a good
chance of winning against rivals, but those chances are already on
display in the public primary.  The best the party can do is point to
a suitable nominee among the leaders and say, "That's our candidate!"

But this contributes no useful information to the election.  The party
*as such* has none to contribute.  Putting it another way, the party
has no vote.  Only people can vote.  When we say "the public party
wins the election", what we really mean, therefore, is that the
outcome is decided by the public.  This would be a significant change
from the past.

We use the argument of inevitable success to leverage the labour,
money and other resources needed to make it happen.  We begin small
and grow from there.  I think this fits neatly with Metagov's prior
goals and methods.  The only real difference is in placing the effort
within the party system.  This is the Trojan Horse strategy, of
course; but even if it had no other purpose, it would enable us to
frame the argument in way that people can easily understand and
identify with.

Will this work, do you think?  Can anyone foresee problems?

 [ACK] Underlying ideas for this proposal were previously mooted in a
       discussion with Fred Gohlke, Juho Laatu and Kristofer
       Munsterhjelm in the Election Methods list.  See "Conceiving a
       Democratic Electoral Process":

       Also with Ed Pastore in the Start/Metagov list:

  [VM] Vote mirroring is the translation of a vote between two sites
       or forms, where the original on the first is replicated as an
       equivalent image on the second.

       Vote mirroring is arguably a sufficient measure in itself to
       dampen network effects and preclude the formation of a monopoly
       in online voting services.

 [WIK] A copy of this proposal is also posted in the wiki:

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

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