[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Jul 11 13:46:02 PDT 2012

On 11.7.2012, at 19.18, Fred Gohlke wrote:

> re: "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?"
> Ya got me!  I'd like to respond, but don't understand what you said.
> In attempting to conceive a democratic electoral process,  we seek an electoral method that vests the power in the people.  That's why we call it democratic.  Candidates "that drive the party values forward" empower the party, not the people.

You seem to assume that "party values" are always bad. What I wanted to say is that although parties may often have a negative impact on candidate selection, there are also aspects that may speak in favour of some control in the creation of the candidate list.

> re: "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."
> That's quibbling.  If they do not support the existing parties, they are non-partisan, and non-partisans, as a group, "do not seek the ascendance of one group of citizens over another".  Why should they be denied a right to representation in the government just because they do not support a party that seeks to advance its own interest at the expense of those who don't share its views?

I don't want to deny a right to representation from anyone. Those people that formed the new party could have been either members or supporters of current parties or not.

> re: "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."
> Really?  And which of them will benefit the people when they do not give the people a way to identify and avoid duplicitous politicians?

I'm in favour of allowing the voters to replace any duplicitous politicians. (In my exmple system old parties can be thrown away if people don't like them.)

> re: "Face-to-face approach offers some benefits but it has also
>     its problems, like long distance between the huge number of
>     individual voters ..."
> Which says we must conceive an electoral method that lets the people narrow the field, so fewer candidates must travel.  Given the availability of modern modes of travel, arranging face-to-face meetings is trivial.

Yes. We must just avoid the situation where 100 representatives must meet 1000 000 voters. Also a situation where a voter meets a person who meetss another person etc. until someone meets one of the 100 representatives may be problematic.

> re: "Different needs and different history may lead to different
>     systems."
> That's stating the obvious, since it already has.  More pertinent is the fact that the vast majority of different systems are not truly democratic.  They do not let the people seek their best advocates from among themselves.  They interpose parties between the people and their government.

We have currently many systems. Even if we would find some ingenious new system, I hope that all would not use it but there would still be alternative approaches for comparison and to seek further improvements.

> re: (with regard to why there should be a limitation on
>    candidate nominations), "The reason is that I have
>    only time to evaluate max 100 candidates."
> As you point out, there are practical ways to reduce the number of candidates while assuring each member of the electorate the right to participate in the process.  Can you propose a better alternative, one that empowers each and every one of us without forcing us to support unknown, self-interested politicians incapable of suppressing greed and avoiding war?  Should not the goal of a conception of a democratic political process be to allow every member of the electorate to participate to the full extent of their desire and ability?

I'm not sure what kind of alternative system you requested me to propose.

> re: (with regard to the statement that, "To exclude these people
>    by setting arbitrary limitations is self-defeating."), you
>    asked, "Why were they arbitrary?"
> They are arbitrary because those who impose the limitations arrogate to themselves the right to deny some members of the electorate the right to compete for election to public office, thus gutting the essence of democracy.

I think we can't get fully rid of our represenattives making decisions for us in a representative democracy. We must trust some people to make the decisions. In elections we can determine who those people are. Also party officials are elected in some related (more or less democratic) way.

> re: "Why not possible rational and balanced limitations that
>     might be used to keep the number of candidates manageable?"
> "Rational and balanced limitations" in whose eyes?  Certainly not the eyes of those who are excluded.  In what way does any person or group of people gain the right to decide who shall be allowed to participate in the political process and who shall not?
> Keeping the number of candidates manageable is straightforward.  The first step is to let those who don't want to compete drop out and the second is to let their peers decide which candidates are worthy of public office.

Depending on the used election system and society, there might or might not be a need to limit the number of candidates so that some potential candidates are either discoureged or not allowed to run. One can easily make the system such that any potential and able candiate that really wants to run can also do so (e.g. by collecting the names of 1000 supporters).

(Here's btw one possible approach that allows anyone to run. There will be a primary elecion at every municipality or other small area (common to all voters of that area). Anyone can nominate himself as a candiate. The winners will be candidates at the next election of a wider area. And the winners of those electons will be candiates of the final national election. Voters are the same at all levels, just grouped into smaller or larger groups. There will be few weeks time between the different level elections to reserve time for the voters to learn the candidates and their opinions.)

> re: "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)."
> That is self-contradictory.

Fair chance could mean, if they have enough support from other people, or, if they work enough to earn their candidature (e.g. collect names).

> re: "(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.)
> I, too, think there must be other solutions.  Since you're sure the hierarchical proposal is "only one possible solution to the problem", it would be very helpful if you'd suggest others.  We're looking for a conception.  We can't form one until ideas are outlined in sufficient detail so they can be evaluated.

I find many different kind of systems useful and potential good solutions for some societies. I'm not quite sure what level of optimality you'd like the proposals to have. If we think about systems that would improve the current state of affairs in some countries, I might accept and recommend e.g. some typical proportional methods with improved proportionality at national level (often it is not very accurate) with some support of proportionality also within parties. That'd be an improvement for many countries.

> re: "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."
> I appreciate the effort you have devoted to this discussion and your comments on "the list".  While I'm not shy about stating my views on the matter of a democratic political system, those views in and of themselves are worthless.  They'll pass with me.
> The views that have value are hidden, in bits and pieces, among all of us.  Although I've written several goals, that was merely an attempt to seed fallow ground.  It is much more akin to the 'common' of years past than to a private lot of my own.  I've no wish for others to stand in awe of the beauty of my fruit.  I don't want to deny our peers the pride and satisfaction one gets from seeing the fruits of their own labor.  I want them to bend their own backs.  I want them to seed, water, fertilize, cultivate and prune the plants so the entire community can feast on their wisdom.

In addition to that, co-operation and criticism are also good tools.


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