[EM] Parliamentary compromising strategy

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Mon Mar 18 19:08:38 PDT 2013

On 3/18/2013 12:49 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> 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:
>>>> ...
>> 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.

Ah, now I see.

In a broader sense, it's what we have in U.S. Congress right now, where 
the Senate (upper house) and House of Representatives (lower house) are 
controlled by opposite political parties.

As you point out, the important difference is where the (real) 
negotiations actually occur -- either in the coalition-based backroom 
deals, or in the cross-party backroom negotiations.

The whole point of VoteFair negotiation ranking is to bring the 
negotiations out of back rooms and into the "open" (but not into public 
view) where all the elected representatives participate (as equals).

For this reason, for this context (recommending VoteFair negotiation 
ranking), the difference between a minority government and a 
coalition-controlled government is not significant.


>>> 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.

I now see that you are talking about voting for political parties, not 
voting for candidates.

This shifts the conversation to electing the representatives.  For this 
purpose I regard traditional PR (proportional representation) as flawed. 
  It assumes that just getting the correct number of representatives is 
a suitable goal.  And this omits the more-important issue of whether the 
elected representatives have priorities that match the voters who 
elected them.

To improve the "representativeness" of the elected representatives, I 
recommend VoteFair ranking, which includes VoteFair "representation" 
ranking, VoteFair "party" ranking, and VoteFair "partial-proportional" 
ranking.  The goal is to put more attention on electing the right people 
_and_ the correct (or nearly correct) number of representatives from 
each party -- rather than just getting the party quotas correct and 
treating party lists as if they are simply waiting lines (without paying 
careful attention to the order of candidates in those lists).


> 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.

VoteFair ranking (the full system, although excluding negotiation 
ranking) favors fewer parties instead of more parties.  In fact, using 
the details I recommend for U.S. elections would result in two main 
parties (presumably reformed versions of the Republican and Democratic 
parties) and probably one "third party" and (as now) almost no 
otherwise-minor parties.  The "third party" would be a coalition of 
voters who don't like the two main parties.

The two main parties would represent the voters, unlike now where they 
represent special interests and give out some "favors" to entice voters 
(and get the voters to believe, mistakenly, that the two parties really 
care about the voters).

I continue to fail to understand why citizens think of politics as a 
left-versus-right tug-of-war.  That's what it used to be before special 
interests hired election experts to advise them on how to take advantage 
of vote splitting.

Now, the much bigger gap is up-versus-down.  The vast majority of voters 
are "up" and the biggest campaign contributors are "down."  (The 
"downers" are also known as special interests.)

Getting back to your prefer-left-of-center-coalition or otherwise 
prefer-right-of-center-coalition scenario, it involves coalitions.  I 
advocate letting the political parties themselves be coalitions, and let 
there be fewer of them, and allow the voters to shift those coalitions. 
  That reduces the effect of parties having lots of negotiation room in 
the backroom deals that choose coalitions.

To further reduce the relevance of coalition-building backroom deals, 
VoteFair negotiation ranking would be used by the parliament to make 
laws on an issue-by-issue basis, rather than on a backroom-deal (by the 
coalition leaders) -by-backroom-deal basis.

Richard Fobes

> 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.

DSV stand for what?

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