[EM] Parliamentary compromising strategy

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Mon Mar 18 00:49:32 PDT 2013

On 03/15/2013 06:55 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> On 3/15/2013 2:22 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> On 03/14/2013 11:26 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>>> ...
>>> One way is to eliminate the need for coalitions. This is the purpose of
>>> VoteFair negotiation ranking, which allows the elected representatives
>>> to rank various proposals on various (hopefully-at-least-somewhat)
>>> related issues. Based on these rankings the software calculates which
>>> proposals would produce a proposed law that is "best" supported by the
>>> elected representatives -- including support by small (but not tiny)
>>> opposition parties. (Details about VoteFair negotiation ranking are at
>>> www.NegotiationTool.com.)
>>> On 3/11/2013 1:33 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
>> I suppose that making every government a minority government would also
>> work here. The cost would be greater instability, though. How would the
>> negotiation ranking handle the instability (or general delay and
>> gridlock) that might appear?
> I do not understand what you mean by making a government a minority
> government. What is a minority government?

In parliamentary systems, a minority government is a government that is 
not supported by a majority of the parliament. Except in systems that 
require constructive votes of no confidence, the minority government can 
always be brought down by a vote of no confidence. Therefore, the 
minority government has to go from issue to issue, finding majorities on 
each issue separately so that the government is not replaced.

A minority government is thus ultimately a device of the legislature. It 
does the legislature's work, and if it doesn't, it is replaced. It 
doesn't have internal party loyalty because it can't demand standards of 
its own. This is opposed to, say, a coalition deciding to negotiate 
among themselves in the executive, where all the coalition parties are 
instructed to support the executive.

> VoteFair negotiation ranking gives the majority the most control. Yet it
> also gives influence to minorities -- if:
> * They are joined together with a common interest -- which amounts to an
> "opposition coalition" that is internally identified by the algorithm
> based on votes, without being based on any additional information (such
> as party membership).
> * Or, they have some overlap with some representatives in the majority.
> * Or, when they support something that does not conflict with what the
> majority wants.
> Expressed another way, the method is a calculation algorithm that
> implements "log rolling" (combining separate proposals into a single
> package to be voted on) and "vote trading" (where representatives agree
> to vote for something they don't care for in exchange for another vote
> that supports what they do care about).
> The algorithm produces a suggested list of compatible proposals that
> would be likely to get majority support if they are packaged into a
> single yes-or-no vote among all the representatives (which in this case
> are the MPs).
> If the package does not pass with majority support, then the (elected)
> representatives can change their rankings and their identification of
> which proposals are incompatible with one another. This is a diplomatic
> way of saying that they either were not paying full attention when they
> were voting on the proposals, or they were not honest in their voting.

Or the negotiation was not successful in the first place, perhaps.

>>> The other approach is to replace traditional PR with an election method
>>> that gives no advantage to strategic voting. This is what the full
>>> VoteFair ranking system is designed to do. Specifically, each district
>>> would use VoteFair representation ranking to elect one "majority" MP
>>> (member of Parliament) and one "opposition" MP, and the remaining
>>> parliamentary seats are filled using VoteFair party ranking (to identify
>>> party popularity) and VoteFair partial-proportional ranking (to choose
>>> which district-losing candidate wins each party-based seat). The result
>>> does not allow even a group of well-coordinated voters to meaningfully
>>> and predictably alter the results.
>> How would that method solve the left/right scenario I mentioned? Would
>> it give the right-of-center parties (or people) position if they had a
>> majority, and otherwise let the left-of-center voter's vote go to a
>> left-of-center candidate?
> Your scenario (as I recall) involved using a voting method in which
> there are strategies that enable the voters to produce a different
> outcome -- without any risk that a dramatically worse outcome can occur.

The whole problem is that there's a strrategy but the strategy isn't 
risk free. The problem itself is a strategy that could make the gun fire 
back at the user, and so the voters face a quite unpleasant dilemma if 
they're instrumental.

The problem is this. You have a bunch of voters who are left of center, 
and there's going to be a parliamentary election. Given past history, 
after the election, if the center-left coalition has a majority, it will 
form the government. Otherwise the center-right coalition will have a 
majority and form the government. This is an example, so I can state 
that voters vote mainly on a left-to-right axis.

(Since I'm only giving a single example, I'm permitted to make any 
assumption - kind of like how I could assume voters voted on a 
left-to-right scale in an election that makes IRV exhibits center 
squeeze. Since I only need to find a single example, it's okay to make 
this assumption to show that sometimes, IRV exhibits center squeeze.)

Anyway. The opinion polls say the result is too close to call. The 
left-of-center voters now have a problem. They could vote for a 
left-of-center party. They want to do so, because this will make it more 
likely that the center-left coalition will win. However, they also know 
that if the center-right coalition wins, their left-of-center votes will 
have no impact upon the government because the center-right majority 
will just disregard the input of the left-wing parties. So if they knew 
the center-right coalition would win if they voted honestly, they should 
instead vote for the most centrist of the parties in that coalition. 
That would pull the coalition, as a whole, towards the center, which is 
something they prefer.

In other words, the left-of-center voters are facing a problem given by 
this payoff matrix:

[Can leftist coalition win under honesty?]/[Leftists' actions]:

Yes/Honest voting: A
Yes/Compromising:  B
No/Honest voting:  C
No/Compromising:   D

with A > B = D > C

Compromising makes a center-right coalition with a large center win. Not 
compromising either makes the center-left coalition win if it has 
sufficient support. Otherwise the center-right coalition with a large 
right-wing component win.

The problem for the voters is that they can't both specify "I want a 
left-of-center coalition" *and* "if I can't have that, I want a 
right-of-center coalition that's as centrist as possible". The voters 
don't in advance know where to direct their power, and a miscalculation 
could cause the worse outcome to occur.

I was thinking that a better option would be to have some kind of DSV 
that can make that choice on the voters' behalf. However, this DSV can't 
act until parliamentary negotiations start, because it doesn't "out of 
nothing" know the relative strengths of the different groups. And thus, 
it would seem that the election method would have to formalize some 
concept of coalitions and parties beforehand, which is undesirable. 
Either that or use liquid democracy, Asset or some other 
negotiation-based protocol.

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