[EM] STV vs Party-list PR, could context matter?

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Sat Mar 3 10:34:37 PST 2012

(I can't shorten the context for these comments.)

On 2/29/2012 2:02 PM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 02/20/2012 03:34 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> On 2/19/2012 1:24 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> > On 02/19/2012 06:18 AM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> >> ...
>> >> More specifically, European politicians seem to be as clueless as U.S.
>> >> politicians about what is needed to "create jobs" and restore
>> widespread
>> >> economic prosperity.
>> >
>> > Let me just say that, as a Norwegian, that does not match my experience
>> > at all.
>> Ah, indeed Norway has a better political system than the "main" European
>> nations (France, Germany, Spain, etc.). Also, oil exports put Norway in
>> a much better position economically than what's going on here in the
>> U.S. (and tighter budgets result in greater dysfunctionality). And,
>> culturally, Norwegians seem to be enlightened more so than many other
>> countries.
> I won't deny that oil exports help, but the other Scandinavian/Nordic
> countries seem to be doing well, too. For instance, the Wikipedia
> article on Sweden's economy says that "the government budget has
> improved dramatically from a record deficit of more than 12% of GDP in
> 1993", and from 1998 to present, has run a surplus in every year except
> 2003 and 2004.. The US public debt, on the other hand, is around 60% of
> GDP.
> As for the people being more enlightened, do you think politics could
> have a feedback effect in that respect? One could imagine that a more
> civil state of politics, more focused on issues rather than who's
> electable or who can sling words in one-on-one debates the best, could
> in turn lead the people to be more interested in actual politics.
> (On the other hand, Warren does say the actual improvement due to
> democracy may be minor and that it's only compounding over time that
> makes democracies much better that non-democracies. He uses an example
> of Pakistan and what became the US having comparably similarly sized
> economies 300 years ago, but now the US's GDP/capita is 19 times that of
> Pakistan, which works out to about a 1% greater annual growth rate for
> the US.)

Culture has a huge impact on politics.  So does religion.

Consider that the institution of marriage began in religions, and that 
worked out well, so governments now have incorporated marriage into 
their legal systems.

A key reason why it is difficult to provide disaster assistance to Haiti 
is that people there are not used to doing things on a volunteer basis.

In other words, government and culture overlap.

>> The need for Norway to resist the European Union in its effort to "bite
>> off too much" underscores my point about European nations, on average --
>> which implies a lack of wise leadership in both the EU and the countries
>> that dominate the EU.
> I get the impression that, although some people wanted political
> integration from the start, the EU has mainly grown by exceeding its
> scope and then formalizing its new extended scope. It started off being
> special-purpose (as the European Coal and Steel Community), then grew
> from there into/was absorbed by the European Economic Community
> (depending on how you look at it). At that point, it had its own inertia
> and was no longer unambiguously subordinate to the national leadership.
> This is not a pattern unique to the EU. I think that has happened in the
> US, as well, although there the political climate may have supported the
> organizations' expansion, particularly in the cases of the DHS and TSA.

The United States was intended to be separate nations, just joining 
together for their common defense and a few other purposes that 
absolutely required cooperation.  At the time it was created, the word 
"state" meant what we now refer to as a nation.

> One could of course say that the politicians have failed in reining in
> the Union's expansion of scope. To the degree they had a responsibility
> to keep the Union from growing, that is true. What I'm trying to say is
> that the Union is not without its internal dynamics: it did not simply
> rest while the politicians encouraged it to grow, but the bureaucracy
> had its own reasons to expand.

Bureaucracy always has a tendency to expand.  Part of the purpose of 
voting is to set limits.

>> A point about the EU: Personally I think that creating the Eurodollar as
>> a monetary unit that is represented in currency was a mistake. Before
>> the Eurodollar was instituted, I publicly (in "The Futurist" magazine)
>> suggested that something called a "Unidollar" should be created as a
>> monetary unit that is defined in a way that does not inflate or deflate
>> with respect to tangible "things" and services, but without being
>> available as a tangible currency. That would allow people in different
>> countries to talk about monetary amounts in Unidollars without having to
>> know the conversion rate for the country of the person they are talking
>> to. (They only have to know the conversion rate between their country's
>> currency and the Unidollar.)
> Would that be like the IMF special drawing rights? Perhaps a little, but
> if it were to be inflation-neutral, it would have to be adjusted,
> somehow. Things and services would still have different Unidollar prices
> in different economies, so the comparison would be limited.

It would not be like anything that already exists.

The challenge to creating this kind of financial measurement is to keep 
it from being manipulated.

As an example of its use and implications, if I were in Tokyo Japan I 
would expect to pay more Unidollars for a loaf of bread compared to the 
Unidollar price here (Oregon, USA), yet I would understand a price tag 
in Unidollars without having to understand any conversion rate that 
involves the Japanese yen.

>> The fact that the EU leaders didn't anticipate the possibility of
>> Greek and Italian (and other) defaults before they even instituted
>> the common currency (and did not realize that just asking new EU
>> nations to make a promise to spend taxpayers' money wisely, with no
>> real way to back up those promises) reveals a lack of wisdom.
> I agree. Compromises sometimes fail to help either party, and moreso if
> the consequences haven't been considered thoroughly.
>> As for the U.S., the biggest (but not the only) election unfairness
>> occurs in primary elections as a result of vote splitting. "Special
>> interests" -- the people who give the largest amounts of money to
>> election campaigns -- have learned to give money to candidates in the
>> primary elections of _both_ the Republican party and the Democratic
>> party (as needed), and give additional support to "spoiler" candidates
>> when needed. The result is that the money-backed candidate in each
>> party's primary election wins, and then it doesn't much matter whether
>> the Republican or the Democrat wins the "general election".
> I thought that kind of spoiler funding, at least in the "general
> election", was a rare thing. Is it more widespread in primaries?

The unfairness of vote splitting is "hidden" in primary elections for 
two reasons.  The winner of a primary election is always from the 
correct political party.  And, single-mark ballots do not collect enough 
information for anyone to know which candidate was really the most popular.

Primary elections are easier to manipulate through vote splitting.

There isn't as much "need" for "special interests" to manipulate general 
elections because they have already limited the primary-election winners 
to "puppets" who are acceptable to them.

>> Simply getting one political party or the other to use a fairer voting
>> method (any of the ones supported by the Declaration of Election-Method
>> Reform Advocates) in the primary elections would greatly improve the
>> ability of voters to elect problem-solving leaders -- instead of
>> special-interest puppets. (After one party adopts such fairer primary
>> elections, the other party would soon have to do the same or else risk
>> losing lots of support.)
> I agree that it would help. The better the method, the closer the
> candidate that comes out of the election is to what the primary voters
> actually want. I am not sure how one would go about introducing a better
> method to a party, however. If one does so to a third party, it doesn't
> matter because the third party can't win without a change in the rules
> of the general election. On the other hand, if one does so to a major
> party, the major party leaders are probably already quite happy with the
> distortion of the current primary in the direction of special-interest
> puppets -- so long as the leaders get their share of the special
> interest spoils.

I see the greatest potential in educating average people about how 
voting should be done when an organization elects its officers.  And in 
how voting is done when a group of people chooses where to go for 
dinner, and other such small-group decisions.

After more people understand how voting should be done, it will be 
difficult for political parties to justify the continued use of 
single-mark ballots.

Richard Fobes

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list