[EM] Sociological issues of elections

Vidar Wahlberg canidae at exent.net
Sun Sep 1 06:57:23 PDT 2013

On Sat, Aug 31, 2013 at 12:38:09PM -0400, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>>For instance, when voting for persons then candidates with high
>>popularity and charisma are likely to win more votes than less
>>charismatic candidates, despite the less charismatic candidates being
>>far more suited for the task (more knowledge, experience, talent, etc.).
> The "task" is undefined here. Yeah, if one is hiring a technician,
> sure, perhaps. However, suppose the community is hiring someone to
> *represent them.* For that task, the character of the candidate, the
> popularity of the candidate, become quite relevant. What's the task?
> Someone who is "more suited" for the task of represenative would
> very likely have the skills to generate popularity.

Thank you for your in-depth answer, it was a very interesting read.

The "task" here is for a person to represent a group of people and make
decisions on how to govern the society. A politician, I don't think I
can elaborate more than this.
The task is actually not the most relevant point. What I'm trying to
point out is that people vote who they believe is the best candidate
based on the information that is available to them. This is something
election methods can't influence, but it is still quite relevant for the
outcome of the election. I'm curious as of how to battle "tactical
information", much like how election methods try to battle "tactical

>>In the Norwegian system where we got multiple parties, but two blocks
>>(left and right), we also see that some people vote for their second
>>preference rather than the first, because the first is in the wrong
>>block or intend to cooperate with another party which the voter dislike
>>the most.
> Then that person is not their first preference. There is an internal
> contradiction in what is asserted. It assmes that "first preference"
> is a simple decision. Indeed, it assumes *popularity* as the
> standard, rather than, say, expected behavior in cooperating with
> that nasty other party.

I may not have been clear enough in my examples and explanation. What I
was trying to express was that voters base their preference on what
information is available.
Consider this scenario:
Candidate A's opinion in four different political issues is in agreement
with most of the population in two of the issues.
Candidate B's opinion in the same four political issues is in agreement
with most of the population in three of the issues.
If equally much light was shed on each issue, it's likely to assume that
candidate B would win the most votes. With this knowledge, it would be
in candidate A's interest to shed most light on the issues where
candidate A agree with the population and where candidate B disagree
with the population. If light is only shed on two of the issues, it may
appear as candidate A is in full agreement with the population, while
candidate B only is in agreement with the population in one of the

You're absolutely right that what people vote for is their preference,
the point I'm trying to raise is that the preference of the voters can
be "shaped" by selecting what information is easily available to the
public. To me this appears as quite unfortunate.

Juho answered well, «I'd try to solve the problem of charismatic
candidates by offering more information about the candidates to the
voters, and allowing all candidates equal amount of publicity (visual,
non-visual, real time, offline, net). What more could we do? Voters must
anyway find out themselves which candidates are really good despite of
not so good charisma, and which ones have nice charisma but nothing
behind the charisma. The system can not make these evaluations for them,
so we just need to increase the openness and informativeness of the
Some also suggests that instead of voting directly on candidates/parties
you vote for their stance in broad categories, such as dividing politics
into "welfare", "environment", "education", etc. and then vote for a
candidate/party in each category.
Such ideas do have drawbacks, they add complexity and may not be
feasible, but they attempt to address issues that election methods
cannot address.

To answer your question Juho, «When you wrote about "a form of
government that is elected by the people", did you mean that voters
should have more say on what the government (coalition) will be like?»:
My intention behind that statement was purely that the government should
still be voted in by the population, not be decided by any other means,
such as electing people based on skill and knowledge (i.e. technocracy).

Vidar Wahlberg

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