[EM] Raph: Sainte-Lague. Transfers in party-list PR.

Michael Ossipoff email9648742 at gmail.com
Mon Jul 16 06:27:49 PDT 2012

On Sat, Jul 14, 2012 at 4:53 PM, Raph Frank <raphfrk at gmail.com> wrote:

>> Evidently it [using 0.7 instead of 0.5] does, because that's what they do
>> in the Scandinavian countires that use Sainte-Lague.
> It would be interesting if that was why they did it that way.  I think it is
> likely that did it simply to prevent small parties from getting seats.

Yes. And it isn't that I feel that it's essential that all of the
small parties are in Parliament (though that may contribute a lot to
what's good about European politics--we couldn't go wrong by copying
Europe). I don't even feel that PR is necessary, though it would
obviously be good. Approval voting in our single-winner elections
would be enough to bring tremendous societal improvement here, and
everywhere where Plurality is currently in use.

What it is, is that I don't like any incentive for voters to abandon
their favorite. And anything that makes it more difficult for a small
party to get into Parliament can discourage someone from sincerely
voting for their small favorite party. Unless the transfer from
unseated parties was available.

>> With Sainte-Lague, with a first divisor of 1.4 or 2, yes someone might
>> want to vote for an at least slightly larger compromise party--one that at
>> least is big enough to be sure to get a seat.
> True, it isn't likely to be that big a deal in practice, just vote for a
> party which is expected to get more than 2 seats and you should be pretty
> safe.  However, it would act as a barrier to new parties, which is something
> all incumbents could agree on.

I don't like making people compromise for a large party. Better if
they could elect their small favorite party, who could then
compromise, and join coalitions, when needed, in Parliament.

>> (Unless the sort of transfers that you spoke of are available, which would
>> make it safe to initially give your vote to your small favorite party).
> Right, it allows people to vote honestly without risking losing their vote.
> Even 2 choices would get most of the benefit, vote 1 for your favourite and
> then 2 for a party that is sure to get at least 2-3 seats.

Quite so. That one transfer to a 2nd choice would make all the
difference, so that anyone could vote for their small favorite party,
and list a more reliably-seated party as 2nd choice.

>> With the transfers, either one-only, or the whole STV ranking with
>> transfers, for ballots that voted for eliminated candidates, Sainte-Lague
>> with a first denominator of 2 would be fair, as you pointed out. But if even
>> the ability to strategically, by splitting, multiply their s/q by up to 4/3
>> turned out to be problematic, then it would be time to go to
>> Largest-Remainder. The bottom-end elimination-transfers would be a good
>> thing with SL or LR. When reading about PR,I always wondered why party list
>> PR doesn't have that.
> I was thinking that "excess" above their fair share could be distributed.
> If a party gets 25 seats but 25.2 seats worth of votes, the 0.2 could be
> transferred.

Yes, I forgot that Sainte-Lague wouldn't be used then, in that
STV-among-party-lists. It would just be like STV. Parties that have
transferred surplus would have seats exactly equal to the Hare quotas
that they used. It would be STV among party lists,  with, first,
surplus transfers, and then elimination transfers.

And the parties needn't publish whole rankings. Each party need only
publish one other party to which it wants to transfer to if it

>>> The ranking could even be set by the parties. This would mean no lost
>>> votes, but still be very simple (voters just pick one party).

But, instead of publishing rankings, the parties could each designate
one party to which they'll transfer, if they transfer.

> Another option is a "candidate" list system.  You vote for 1 candidate, and
> effectively you vote for his list.  This would be equivalent to voting a
> ranked ballot equal to his list.  PR-STV could be used to tally the votes.
> This would keep it simple, but still more complex than party list.

Yes. Though there would be more transfers, because candidates instead
of parties would be transferring, at least it wouldn't be individual
ballots doing the transferring. The count would still be manageable
for anyone who wants to do it, by handcount.

But,again, just as with the transfers between parties, it seems to me
that each candidate need only designate one other candidate to whom
s/he wants to transfer, if s/he transfers.
..instead of publishing whole rankings.

> This would require all candidates to be listed.  This gets the benefit of
> PR-STV in taking the right to set the list out of the hands of the party
> leader, while being possible nationally.  Ofc, the party leadership would
> probably have rules about the lists, but they couldn't push it to far, or a
> popular candidate would just leave.

It seems to me that partes needn't have any official role. Well, I
suppose a party could threaten to expel a candidate who transferred to
someone they don't like, but party membership wouldn't be important or
necessary in such a system.

>> Japan used to use the Single-Nontransferable-Vote (SNTV). It, too, has a
>> simple and easy count, though it lets people vote for individual candidates.
>> It requires some sort of organization, agreement or instructions among a
>> party's voters, but that needn't be a prohibitive problem. They used it for
>> a long time, so it must have worked fine.
> You could give randomised votes out.  I think it likely has similar problems
> to bloc voting, where parties have to be careful in estimating their vote
> totals.

There are many quite workable solutions. Parties (or other
organizations) could agree among their members, that people with names
beginning with certain letters would vote for certain candidates. Or
that voters in certain geographical regions would vote for certain
candidates. Or, as you suggested, a party or organisation could
directly advise each voter which candidate to vote for, in the form of
direct communications with voters, or via a published list that pairs
voters with candidates.

Alternatively, a voter could easily decide for hirself, by
randominzing hir vote. Say the party expects to be able to elect N
candidates. The voter puts N pieces of paper in a bag, each marked
with the name of one of the candidates, and draws one of them from the
bag, and votes for that candidate.

Or the party could have a website with that would use a random-number
generator to suggest a candidate for people to vote for when they
visit the website.

Many possibilities, all feasible.

>> Likewise, the various open list systems have the simple and easy count of
>> party-list PR, while still letting people vote for candidates, to determine
>> which candidates will occupy the seats won by a party.
> Open list normally has multi-member plurality for the intra party count.

But the voter could also be allowed to vote for several candidates of
a party, and the candidates could be seated in order of their numbers
of approvals.

Isn't that how it already is, in those countries that let voters vote
for a _set_ of candidates on a party list (or even several party
lists) if they want to? Isn't it effectively Approval, for determining
the order in which the candidates take the seats won by the party?  Of
course, in those countries, as I understand it, if you vote for
several candidates on a party's list, that gives to that party one
vote for each candidate you voted for. And of course you only have a
specific number of votes to give. That system has apparently worked
will for those countries. But if you wanted it to be a pure Approval
count, you could say that approving any number of a party's listed
candidates only counts as one vote for the party.

There's been inexplicably little innovation in single-winner methods.
A few impressively progressive countries have been using a different
single-winner method (IRV, also called Preferential Voting or the
Alternative Vote). They deserve credit for progressiveness, and iRV
would even be ok, if people would avoid over-compromise,and would be
very particular what they regard as acceptable. IRV has the big
advantage over Plurality, that it doesn't have the split-vote problem
that makes people have to somehow guess what candidate they'll combine
their votes on. And it meets Mutual Majority, and doesn't have a
co-operation/defection problem, a chicken-dilemma. With the right kind
of voting, its FBC failure would be ok. But, given the way people
everywhere seem to vote, FBC is essential.

Anyway, other than IRV, there hasn't been innovation in single-winner
methods. But some interesting, innovative, creative PR systems have
been use in a lot of countries, for a long time. What an anachronism,
that we're still using Plurality :-(

Mike Ossipoff

> Some use the list unless the candidate gets more than a certain percentage.
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