[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Sat Jul 7 00:29:50 PDT 2012

On 07/06/2012 02:22 AM, Michael Allan wrote:
> Kristofer Munsterhjelm said:
>> - Thus, it's not too hard for me to think there might be sets of
>> rules that would make parties minor parts of politics. Those would
>> not work by simply outlawing parties, totalitarian style. Instead,
>> the rules would arrange the dynamics so that there's little benefit
>> to organizing in parties.
> Such rules would be difficult to implement while the parties are still
> in power.  They control the legislatures.  I think we need to look at
> the primaries.  A system of open primaries would be beyond the reach
> of the parties, and it might undermine their power.  Has anyone tried
> this approach before?

We don't really have primaries here, at least not in the sense of 
patches to make Plurality work, because we don't use Plurality but party 
list PR. There are still internal elections (or appointments, depending 
on party) to determine the order of the list - those are probably the 
closest thing to primaries here.

I imagine that the primary link is even weaker in STV countries. Say you 
have a multimember district with 5 seats. To cover all their bases, each 
party would run at least 5 candidates for that election, so that even if 
they get all the seats, they can fill them. But that means that people 
who want members of party X to get in power can choose which of the 
candidates they want. There's no predetermined list, and there's less of 
a "take it or leave it" problem than in single member districts.

But I digress. The way I see it, there are two approaches to changing 
the rules. The first is to do it from within - to have a party or other 
organization that implements those rules internally. The second is from 
without, by somehow inspiring the people to want this, so that they will 
push for it more strongly than the parties can.

In the United States, the latter might be rather difficult (since money 
counts for so much). And perhaps in the US, primaries would be a good 
place to start. I don't know, as I don't live there :-)

Don't some local elections over there have free-for-all primaries where 
anyone can vote, so the system turns into top-two runoff?

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