[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Sat Jul 7 14:44:50 PDT 2012

On 7.7.2012, at 23.18, Fred Gohlke wrote:

> Can you describe a circumstance in which letting the leaders of a subset of the electorate control of the nomination of candidates for public office will be in the public interest?  In a representative democracy, is it not the right of the people to select those who will represent them?

A party represents some set of political ideals and targets. There may be limitations on how many candidates each party can nominate. This party might be interested in nominating candidates that represent those values as well as possible. They may plan to have candidates from every age group, from every geographical area, from many professions, and both male and female candidates. In order to achieve this, they (party leaders or an election committee) want to decide which individuals will be nominated as their candidates.

Also in this democracy voters are allowed to decide who will represent them. The idea is that the number of parties is not limited. If people want some other type of candidates, that the above mentioned party sets, they are free to form a new party that will represent voters better.

> We must always be alert for Prince Charming-type individuals that can't be trusted with your lunch pail. If we are to validate candidates for public office, they must be examined, face-to-face, by people with a vital interest in ascertaining their character, and the examiners must have enough time to investigate their subject thoroughly.  Should we add that as another goal?

I'd add that as one possible path - probably not as a requirement that all working political systems must meet.

> wouldn't we be better served to let the candidate's peers decide their suitability?  In the process of deciding which of our peers are our best advocates, we would be automatically narrowing the field.

There may be limitations in candidate nomiation since democracy might not work well if we had 10000 candidates to choose from. There are many such ways to limit the number of candidates, that do not essentially limit the ability of good candidates with lots of support to get on the list. One could e.g. require a candidate to collect the names of N supporters. Also peer evaluation, as you have proposed it, could be one approach.

> The only reference to frequency was the recommendation that elections be held annually.  Terms of office are already set in most constituencies, so the elections will be to replace office-holders whose terms are expiring.

Ok, having overlapping terms is a good trick that reminds the representatives (that are safe this time) that also they might be replaced one day.

> The reason for determining each candidate's integrity and suitability is to establish, in advance, to the maximum extent possible, that the candidate can and will make unpopular decisions in the public interest when circumstances dictate.

I just note that politicians generally have also the opposote interest - to make decisions that many people (that may have shorter term desires than the politicians) want.

One more thing. If you plan to finetune your list, I think you should decide if the list is a list of criteria that all decent methods should meet, or if the list describes one useful approach, or if the list describes "the ideal method". (I don't believe the third case is doable since I believe there are different solutions for different needs. But the first two approaches are easier (the second one is easier than the first).)


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