[EM] Is it professional?

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Tue Jun 25 02:13:35 PDT 2013

On 06/25/2013 09:17 AM, Juho Laatu wrote:
> On 25.6.2013, at 1.25, Benjamin Grant wrote:
>> On Mon, Jun 24, 2013 at 6:19 PM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm
>> <km_elmet at lavabit.com <mailto:km_elmet at lavabit.com>> wrote:
>>     Scenario 1: Voters don't rank now, but will rank when they see
>>     it's worth it. Here IRV will eventually crash but BTR-IRV is,
>>     well, better.
>>     Scenario 2: Voters rank, contrary to your assumptions (but
>>     suggested by international evidence). Again, BTR-IRV does better.
>>     Scenario 3: Voters don't rank and never will. BTR-IRV is here no
>>     worse than IRV.
>>     Under what scenario does BTR-IRV *lose* against ordinary IRV?
>> I am quite interested in the answer to this as well, as I imagine that
>> whatever the answer is is a defining advantage, should any exist.
> One can see this problem from two quite different points of view.
> One approach is that BTR-IRV is simply an improved version of IRV that
> it avoids some of the key problems of IRV. Therefore it could be
> straight forward to get also BTR-IRV accepted if the society accepts IRV.
> Another approach is to have a more political power oriented viewpoint.
> IRV tends to favour major parties. If the incumbent strong parties (that
> do have a lot to say on what route the politics take) may well count
> their chances in each proposed method. This might lead to favouring
> methods like IRV that still allow the largest parties to take a lion's
> share of the victories.

Right. I've heard this argument from others: that IRV, favoring the 
large parties, will get greater support from them. But the problem with 
that argument is that on the face of it, it seems to apply just as well 
to Plurality. The ones who already have power, have power to some degree 
because of the imbalances in the power allocation system. Therefore, 
they'll be disinclined to switch the power allocation system or parts of 
it, for something that will distribute power away from them. Or to be 
more direct: the people who are in power because of Plurality would see 
no need to advocate IRV unless they would also be in power under IRV -- 
and if they already have power, why take the chance?

I think the argument would be better if adapted to a sort of "internal 
discontent" scenario. For simplicity's sake, say you have a 1984-like 
structure with three classes:

- The upper class wants to stay in power,
- The middle class wants to switch places with the upper class,
- The lower class wants to remove the class system itself.

Then you could appeal to parts of the middle by using a conservative 
reform like IRV. The argument would go: "you're strong, but not strong 
enough. You would like some leveling, but not so much that you can't 
enjoy your share of the power. Well, how about this method? It slightly 
levels the playing field - enough for you to now compete with the 
powerholders, but not enough that those third-party dudes will compete 
with *you*".

> A classical example is one where there are two major parties and a
> smaller compromise party candidate between the lajor party candidates.
> Should the mathod allow that compromise candidate win? Condorcet
> compliant methods seem to think that the compromise candidate should
> win. (I also note that different political systems may have different
> needs. In some systems the strongest are expected to rule whil in others
> compromises are the default mode of operation.)

Ideally, I'd want the compromise candidate to win if he's genuinely a 
compromise candidate, but not if he's a bland "nobody's favorite" that 
gets the second place by default. But handling that will require some 
sophistication. Runoffs may work.

Or perhaps given Condorcet, the voters will learn to punish bland 
candidates with last-place votes. That would be sort of like market 
adjustment: demand of compromise candidates increase due to Condorcet, 
then supply follows, giving multiple compromise candidates, and finally, 
the good ones win as the bland ones are ranked lower. I don't know if 
that would happen, but on the other hand, I haven't heard of "bland 
candidate syndrome" reports from any of the organizations that are 
currently using Condorcet methods.

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