[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Jul 9 14:46:45 PDT 2012

On 9.7.2012, at 22.45, Fred Gohlke wrote:

> Good Afternoon, Juho
> re: "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."
> You described why parties want to control the selection of candidates for public office, but you have not explained why allowing them to control the selection process is in the public interest.

There may be also negative arguments against party control, but aren't those given reasons rational reasons that aim at creating the best possible and representative list of candidates that drive the party values forward?

> You say non-partisans are free to form a new party, but that ignores the fact the non-partisans are not organized along party lines.  They do not seek the ascendance of one group of citizens over another, they seek good government.  In conceiving a democratic electoral process, ought we not make sure that all people, including those who do not adhere to party lines, can participate in the selection of candidates for public office?

I think I didn't refer to non-partisans. I meant that some regular voters may become activists and form a new party if thy are not happy with the existing parties. Most similar minded voters would just vote for the new party and not become active members (note that I don't assume U.S. style registration of all voters as supporters of some party).

I assumed that in this system voters support some ideology or targets for the society, and vote for the party that is closest to those targets. They are free to aim at forming the best possible government, from those components / parties that are available, and from those new parties that they or others might establish.

> re: With regard to the question of whether or not "we should
>    set a goal requiring that candidates for public office 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", you
>    said you'd "add that as one possible path - probably not as
>    a requirement that all working political systems must meet."
> I'm not sure why you want to leave this open.  We have broad experience with the duplicity of politicians selected by political parties.  Should we not learn from our experience and protect ourselves from this evil when we conceive a democratic electoral method?

I'm happy to leave this point open since I see multiple viable approaches that could be used by the various societies of the world. Face-to-face approach offers some benefits but it has also its problems, like long distance between the huge number of individual voters and only a handful of politicians that will make the central decisions. DIfferent needs anddifferent history may lead to different systems.

> re: "There may be limitations in candidate nomiation since
>     democracy might not work well if we had 10000 candidates
>     to choose from."
> Why should there be a limitation.

The reason is that I have only time to evaluate max 100 candidates. (Maybe you indirectly refer to the hierarchical approach that you have proposed earlier and that reduces the number of candidates than one voter has to evaliuate.)

>  Democracies can consist of millions of people, some of whom are the best advocates of the common interest at any given time.  To exclude these people by setting arbitrary limitations is self-defeating.

Why were they arbitrary? Why not possible rational and balanced limitations that might be used to keep the number of candidates manageable?

>  We don't want to exclude these people - we want to find them and elevate them to public office.

All potential candidates should be given a fair chance to become candidates. That doesn't mean that we should allow all interested people to becme candidates (because the list might become too long). (Again I note that your earlier hierarchical proposals could allow all people to be candidates. But that's only one possible solution to the problem.)

>  If we are to find them, we must conceive a search mechanism.  So far, I've been unable to come up with a better mechanism than peer evaluation but I'll welcome the outline of a better method.
> re: "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'."
> Alas, Juho, that you should disassociate yourself from our noble effort.  Your posts would be more meaningful if you could bring yourself to refer to "our" list - thereby including all those who choose to participate.

Note that I'm working all the time with you to allow this initiative to move forward. It is difficult to make such lists of requirements that all EM members would be happy to sign. I have my own viewpoints that usually are not exactly the same as those of others. Therefore I want to leave space for you to make either a list that you like yourself, or a list that you expect many EM members to agree with. But that process does not require me to sign the paper. My best guess based on your earlier proposals is that there are people on this list that are quite close to your viewpoints, and you might get strongest support from them (instead of me and my weird ideas of allowing even the option of party influence on candidate selection in some societies ;-) ).

I promote this kind of carefully constructed lists in general. I'm also happy to promote generation of lists that are not an exact match with my own thoughts. My first guess is that whatever way this work makes progress, the end result is likely not to reflect my thoughts one-to-one, but is more likely to represent the viewpoints of the original author, or the viewpoints of the community that wants to write the declaration together.

I'm also quite strict with what I say and sign. If I'd start calling the list "our" list (with the intention to keep it that way), I'd have to be much stricter and not allow you to put in any words that I don't fully support. That might kill the process right from the start (if we would start e.g. debating whether party influence in candidate selection should be avoided altogether or not). Better to allow teh work to progress first and then see what the outcome is.

I think it is better if someone takes the lead in this kind of work, and tries to either make the list as good as he can, or as acceptable to all as he can, or following the opinions of the group members as well as possible. The probability that I'll support generation of such a list is high. The probability of me signing such list as my permanent opinion or as my primary targets is quite low.

Usually you can get the best end results if the core of the proposal is made and kept in good shape by one person or a small team of similar minded people. If the outcome is good, also others might be happy to sign, or sign with comments, or write some (mainly positive) comments about the end result.


> Fred
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list