[EM] Parliamentary compromising strategy

Michael Allan mike at zelea.com
Tue Mar 12 10:27:16 PDT 2013

Hi Kristofer,

I think the "liquid democracy" solution can be salvaged by moving it
into an open primary.

> I suppose the problem is that the coalition makeup is set up after
> the election rather than during it. So the voting method has no idea
> about how power is distributed and arranged after the election. ...

I agree, it's an information problem.

> That leaves the second option, which sounds more like a form of
> proxy voting or liquid democracy. Besides the problems with
> vote-buying [1], there's also the instability. ...

Instead of a continuous election, what about a continuous primary?
Being continuous, the results are still informed by daily events in
the assembly.  But being a primary, there's no direct feedback to
cause instability.  Instead, elections are held at long intervals as
usual, and this is where the primary kicks in.  It's an open primary,
so it produces a single candidate list that cuts across all parties.
Any party may adopt this all-party list as its own.  This is political
suicide, of course, but it also wins votes.  The party surrenders its
power over the elected members, who now owe their seats entirely to
the open primary, and not to any party.  Electors and candidates will
be happy to support this arrangement.  It dissolves the power blocs
and frees the assembly to focus on its legislative functions. [2]

The power structure is nominated in a separate, executive primary [3].
The assembly gives its confidence to the nominated government, or not,
and this information feeds back to both primaries (executive and
assembly).  The more of the assembly members who are elected in this
fashion, the more the assembly is apt to take guidance from primary
sources in all matters, even legislation.  But the guidance is always
discretionary, so there's time for talk and adjustment on both sides.

Would it work?  It's extra-constitutional and purely informative.  It
fits with the principles of "technical" parties like the Pirate Party
and the Partido de Internet, who are probably well equipped to get it
started [4].  I CC these two.

 [1] Coercion and vote-buying can be mitigated by continuous voting,
     full disclosure and separation of primary and decision systems.
     See: http://zelea.com/project/votorola/d/theory.xht#fn-2

 [2] Some diagrams here, but they're not fully described yet.
     These "parties" are nothing but competing technical facilities
     for primary voting, interconnected by vote mirroring.  They're
     clothed as parties only so they can function where parties are
     baked into the constitution.  Elsewhere it's much simpler:
     Vote mirroring (though not shown) is still needed here in order
     to keep the primary open, despite technical competition.

 [3] The executive primary nominates the prime minister, ministers and
     all appointees.  It's done with a single vote per elector.  I'll
     post a diagram soon.  It's another continuous primary.  Aside
     from the stabilizing effect of a separate decision mechanism (the
     assembly alone decides the executive), if the appointments reach
     close enough to the electors, then the primary itself is likely
     to benefit from a stabilizing effect.  People won't quickly shift
     their votes from local appointees who are doing a good job.  But
     these local appointees are the base delegates in the primary, and
     also have a communication function (a feature of this voting
     mechanism that Abd often mentions), both of which may be expected
     to lend stability to the rest of the power structure.

 [4] At least for multi-winner elections.  Single-winner don't require
     all the party clothing.  The technical parties are weak in places
     like Britain and the US, anyway.  I couldn't even find a mailing
     list in English.

Michael Allan

Toronto, +1 416-699-9528

Kristofer Munsterhjelm said:
> Here's a scenario I've been thinking about lately.
> Say that you have a parliament using proportional representation, and 
> the voting method is party list. Then say that the situation is so that 
> after the election, either the left-of-center parties or the 
> right-of-center parties form a coalition.
> Given this, you might get a compromising strategy. Say (WLOG) that 
> you're a left-wing voter. Then if it's a narrow race, but the polls are 
> slightly favoring the right-wing group, it might make sense for you to 
> vote for the most centrist of the right-wing parties. The reasoning 
> would go that "the right wing is going to win anyway, so if I vote for 
> the left wing, I get zero influence, but if I vote for the leftmost 
> right-wing party, I at least pull the right-wing coalition away from its 
> right extreme".
> But if enough people vote this way, then the right-wing wins, even if 
> the polls were inaccurate and it would not have won if people had voted 
> honestly.
> Is there any way of ameliorating this? The best solution would let 
> people vote the left parties ahead of the right parties and contribute 
> both to their left-wing preference, as well as push the right-wing in 
> their direction.
> I suppose the problem is that the coalition makeup is set up after the 
> election rather than during it. So the voting method has no idea about 
> how power is distributed and arranged after the election. All the voting 
> method does is produce a council that is proportional. Thus, if we're to 
> solve that problem, it would mean either codifying the coalition 
> structure into the system itself, or make the voters able to react to 
> coalition setups so that they can redistribute their votes manually.
> The former, I'm a bit wary of doing. One of the advantages of 
> parliamentary rule is that the parliament is fluid. The parliament can 
> nominate, select, and dissolve executives. The members of parliament can 
> also ally themselves with others or shift their allegiances, or not have 
> any fixed coalition allies at all (as is the case with minority 
> governments). So making the assumption, within the voting system, that 
> the parliament is going to consist of multiple coalitions and that the 
> system can redistribute votes to ensure the favored coalition has a 
> majority... seems intrusive.
> That leaves the second option, which sounds more like a form of proxy 
> voting or liquid democracy. Besides the problems with vote-buying, 
> there's also the instability. Yes, the voters can now react: left-wing 
> voters that see that the right-wing is winning can shift their votes to 
> the most centrist of the right-wing. However, this can cause reactions 
> in the parliament - e.g. the right-wing wants to exclude the centrists 
> because the centrists are diluting the unity of power of the coalition - 
> which in turn would cause reactions among the voters, and so on. There 
> might even be unstable oscillatory cycles. One such cycle might go that 
> the right-wing coalition wins. Then the left-wingers move their votes to 
> the centermost right-wing coalition members. The right-wing splits that 
> centrist group away because they dilute the "right-wing-ness" of the 
> right-wing coalition. Then the leftists move their votes back because 
> nobody has a majority now, so the left-wing could use their support; and 
> then the right-wing gains a majority. Rinse and repeat.
> (One might ask what a deterministic system would do in such a case. The 
> answer is not obvious!)
> So does that mean that we're forced to have some amount of compromising 
> strategy in parliamentary elections with blocs? Perhaps it's better to 
> say that the system isn't prepared to handle that kind of problem. Other 
> systems might, but then they wouldn't be parliamentary in the classical 
> sense. Or it might be the case that one can make tweaks, but these will 
> settle on somewhat random outcomes in edge cases like the above. A 
> proxy/liquid democracy system with damping of noise (e.g. if you move 
> your vote from X to Y, power gradually seeps from X to Y, not all at 
> once) might settle on either a minority government or a right-wing 
> coalition in the cyclical example above -- but there's no objective 
> reason why it shouldn't settle on the outcome it doesn't settle on.
> ----
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