[EM] Parliamentary compromising strategy

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Thu Mar 14 01:52:31 PDT 2013

On 03/12/2013 06:27 PM, Michael Allan wrote:
> 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]

That would get rid of the instability, or at least slow it down to only 
oscillate between election periods. To use a metaphor, the elections 
serve as a low-pass filter.

But would it get rid of the parliamentary compromising strategy that I 
mentioned? It depends on how the lists are frozen before the election. 
If there's a negotiation step between the candidates on the list, then 
it could. Say a voter votes for a liberal. This liberal notices that 
according to predictions of support for the non-technical list, more 
conservatives than liberals will be elected. Thus he gives his support 
to the more liberal conservatives, pushing them above the less liberal 
ones on the final list.
If there is no negotiation, then the voters have to do the negotiation 
step, and that could lead to the kind of instability I mentioned. It 
might be less serious than the case with a continuous election, though. 
The voters know they have to make up their minds before the time the 
lists will be frozen (for the elections). The pressure is akin to that 
in Simmons's consensus method: "reach an agreement or we'll pick at 
random". One might still want to have tools that could be used to escape 
local attractors, however. In the case where the right splits off the 
center to not be diluted, it would be nice to have some mechanism that 
could predicate the vote transfers on keeping the center, so the right 
can see that splitting off the center will never work. But I don't know 
what those tools would look like. I think a liquid system would be more 
free to develop these than a traditional party system would, since the 
tools and mechanisms would only inform the voters, not alter how they 

As for parties adopting the list, I don't think they would. Consider it 
in systems terms. Then the party is a system that responds to influence 
from the outside in such a way as to retain its integrity. The party 
thus desires to push the political environment in a direction that 
supports its existence. Traditionally, that can be done by gaining 
influence. Increased influence means greater capacity to change the 
environment - and thus a greater ability to head off changes that would 
be a problem to the party's own integrity. Here, a problem to integrity 
would be something that either weakens the party or requires it to 
change enough that it's no longer that party.

Adopting a consensus list might give the party greater influence. But 
this influence is given at the cost of destroying integrity. In your own 
simpler words, it's political suicide. What good does it do the party to 
gain greater control, if the thing which gains control is not the party 
any longer? Control and influence are tools to keep integrity, but if 
there's no integrity to keep, it loses its point.

The party would have to redefine its identity so that it is not based on 
any political position before it could adopt the list. I don't think any 
usual parties would do that. They have not defined themselves as 
organizations that encourage democracy whatever its shape, but as 
organizations that politically represent a certain general position.

New parties could define themselves differently. If the party's 
considering itself "an organization to introduce liquid democracy", for 
instance (as the Internet Party is, to my knowledge), it would have no 
difficulty moving to a consensus list.

> 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.

I'm not entirely sure what you mean here. Is it parliamentary, in that 
the primary decides upon the composition of the legislature, and the 
legislature decides upon the composition of the executive? Or is it 
presidential, where there are two separate primaries, both decided by 
the voters through a liquid method?

It seems to me that you're saying it is "presidential" (separate 
executive elections), but the assembly has to give confidence to the 
government. What, then, happens if the assembly doesn't? Is there 
another executive election? Or does the assembly just watch the 
candidate executive until the voters rearrange their voters to produce 
an executive they approve of, and then they pick that executive?

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