[EM] Chicken Dilemma--To whom is it a problem?

Michael Ossipoff email9648742 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 15 06:36:28 PDT 2013

On Tue, Oct 15, 2013 at 2:07 AM, Kevin Venzke <stepjak at yahoo.fr> wrote:
> Hi Mike,
> ----- Mail original -----
>> De : Michael Ossipoff <email9648742 at gmail.com>
>> À : "election-methods at electorama.com" <election-methods at electorama.com>
>> Cc :
>> Envoyé le : Lundi 14 octobre 2013 19h09
>> Objet : [EM] Chicken Dilemma--To whom is it a problem?
>> Someone at EM (when he was more honest?) said that the chicken dilemma
>> is voting-systems' most intractable problem.
>> But others here say or imply that it won't be a problem.
Hi Kevin--

You wrote:

> I hope I don't imply that. I think it's a major problem, likely to be solved mostly by parties pressuring their clones > > against running in the same election.


Yes, if those parties are mutually co-operative and amicable. But I
don't think that that's the case. These groups aren't going to say,
"Ok, you run a presidential candidate, and we won't, and we'll vote
for your candidate."

You continued:

I generally don't focus on elections with clones for this reason.

But shouldn't these proposals, suggestions and discussions be about
the acual existing situation?

The practical reality is that the progressives consist of many
mutually un-cooperative and (in their perception) inimical parties and
factions. But surely all progressives would rather have some
progressive party in office, instead of the Republocrats--even though
they have no agreement or cooperation regarding which one. Each party
says, "We're the alternative. We're the answer."

I admit that there almost surely isn't going to be any improvement or
reform of any kind. There isn't reallly any hope for human affairs
ever being any better than they are now (worse, sure). But,
nevertheless, if discussing or proposing voting systems, it makes
sense, to me, to discuss or propose them based on the
almost-surely-false assumption that we're talking about a possible
scenario. So then it makes sense to speak and propose in terms of the
most nearly possible scenario, however impossible it might be.

People at EM tend to have a different approach to voting systems. They
seem to regard it as more of a game, with no relation to the question
of what could accomplish something,  if anything could. Since almost
surely, nothing will be accomplished, it's only a game anyway. It's
just that I'm playing a more realistic version of it than most EM'ers

You continued:

> You seem to be focused on a very specific scenario, where it is very easy to tell (from the scenario definition) who's defecting from which camp and how to punish them for it.

Well, the trouble is that you can't know for sure that the other party
will defect, or that they won't.

Anti-defecion strategy consists of partial defection. Forest suggested
that anti-defection strategy a few years ago.

That partial defection, as an anti-defection strategy, would always be
difficult guesswork. The guess would often be wrong. Often it would
fail to prevent successful defection. Often it would give the election
away to the Republocrats, even if both parties "co-operated" to the
extent of trying for the optimal partial defection (which is also
partial co-operation).

The strategy would only have deterrrent effectiveness if it created a
strong probability of Republocrat win, in the event of the other
party's defection. But, in order to ensure that, there would also be a
significant probability of giving it away to the Repulocrats even if
both parties did the partial cooperation/partial defection.

As you suggested, that problem is further compounded by the fact that
there aren't just 2 players in that chicken-dilema game. There are
lots of progressive parties, with many rivalries and animosities, at
various different levels of the progessive family-tree.

That anti-defecin stategy, therefore, hardly qualifies as a solution,
but it's all that we'd have, with a chicken-dilemma vulnerable voting
system. Much better to just not use a chicken-dilemma-vulnerable
voting system.

With Score, the partial defection could consist of a fractional rating.

With Approval, Beatpath, or Ranked-Pairs, it would require
probabilistic partial defection. Draw a numbered piece of paper from a
bag, to probabilistically decide whether to defect.

That's  why the progressives would need a chicken-dilemma-proof
method, such as Benham or Woodall.

Sure, you might say that if we could elect a progressive with
Plurality, by using, as a progresive-primary, the first presidential
election in which progressive votes constitute a majority, then we're
co-operative enough to not need a defection-proof voting-system.

But the whole point of better voting systems is to improve on
Plurality, to reduce strategy-need. The progressives will want to be
able to vote sincerely, without intra-progressive strategy, even if
they can somehow overcome it to initially elect a progressive govt via

You continued:

 In that setting the Woodall and Benham methods seem adequate to me.

Yes, because they meet the Mutual-Majority Critrerion (MMC), have no
chicken dilemma, and meet the Condorcet Criterion (CC).

In fact, they meet the Smith Criterion too, which of course
automatically gives MMC & CC.

Lots of methods meet Smith, and therefore MMC & CC. But the problem is
that very few of those methods are free of the chicken
dilemma--without which MMC and CC won't do much good.

It seems to me that (if we pretend that there's something that could
help) all we can do is vote for our favorite progressive party, in our
Plurality elections.

And, if the time ever comes when the progressive votes add up to a
majority, then we all progressive voters should, in the next election,
vote for the nomineees of whichever progressive party got the most
votes in that progressive-majority election. Then (so wishful scenario
goes) we could elect a progressive government.

Now, with that progressive government in office, of course many things
would be different, as you know from the remarkably-similar platforms
of the progressive parties (non-socialist and socialist). For one
thing, the media would be completely open, participatory and
agenda-free. We'd have greatly expanded power of initiative, including
full initiative power at the natiional level. Referenda, too, for
obviously important decisions. Most progressive parties would forbid
any military attacks without a national referendum, for example.

In that progressive environment, surely there would almost immediately
be an initiatve or referendum regarding the choice of a national
voting system (Many progressve improvements would of course involve
Constittional amendments).

What voting system would be used for that initiative or referendum to
choose a voting system? Probably IRV, befause currently IRV is the
only alternative voting system offered in a party platform. About 4 or
5 parties offer IRV:

GPUS, G/GPUSA, SPUSA, Reform, California Peace & Freedom.

Almost all of those are progressive parties.

So: _That_ would be when we debate and choose a voting system.
Obviously that time (if it ever comes to pass at all, which is highly
doubtful) is a long way off. So, right now, we needn't concern
ourselve too much about the choice of voting systems.

Right now, the goal is to elect a progrssive govt, by the strategy
that I described above: Vote for your favorite progressive party. At
such time as progressive votes add  to a majority, then, in the next
election, vote for the nomnees of the progressive party that has just
gotten the most votes.

But of course that won't do any good unless the election is
legitimately counted. So, project #1 must be for everyone to demand
verifiable, and threfore legitimate, vote-counting, in time for the
2014 elections.

Of course none of that will happen.

Michael Ossipoff

> Kevin Venzke
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