[EM] APR (5): Steve's 5th dialogue with Juho

Juho Late juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Dec 4 14:20:06 PST 2014

> On 04 Dec 2014, at 21:08, steve bosworth <stevebosworth at hotmail.com> wrote:

> it would seem to be the best electoral system, i.e. it seems to provide an essential element of the structural political conditions that would maximize the probability that democratic solutions to problems will be found.  If you disagree with this claim, I would like to understand your reasons.

It has some interesting properties that can be the best solution in some cases. As I already said, I think there are many needs and many solutions. I don't believe that one system would be somehow superior. Or maybe, if we name some single ideal environment with some ideal needs, there could be one system that would be my absolute favourite. But I mentioned also some potential problems of the proposed system. So it is impossible to me to say that the presented definition would be somehow "the best". There is a big gap between saying that some of its components are interesting, good and worth testing in real life experiments, and saying that it is "the best electoral system".

> S:  If you are already completely happy with your country’s electoral system, please tell me about it and explain why you think APR would be worse.  As you already know, currently, I would want to argue that APR would be even better for your “multiparty” situation.  Please tell me more.

I'm used to an open list based proportional multiparty system that is also geographically proportional (that is far from ideal, and I'm far from being "completely happy" with it). From APR I could use the idea of ranked votes. That could be used in traditional list based systems e.g. to make party internal proportionality and geographical proportionality more exact. I could use also the idea of representatives with different weights. I would however keep the weight differences between representatives smaller (partly because of the tradition). Having different weights would be an interesting alternative, not necessarily an improvement. I'd like to strengthen geographic proportionality, not decrease it like in APR. I'd skip the primary since I think I can get those enhancements that I want also without it. Maybe this gives a rough idea how I see APR when compared to some traditional list based multiparty systems.

> S:  Do you see that APR’s weighted votes would make this proportionality complete, as well as making each citizen’s vote equally (mathematically) to count in the assembly? 

APR introduces one interesting feature (no lost votes) that helps making _political_ proportionality exact, but it may also lose some accuracy e.g. since people may not want to declare their true preferences since the votes are not fully secret. Many proportional methods can already today reach good political proportionality. Therefore APR would not introduce any radical improvements to political proportionality to the set of available methods.

> S:  Do you also see APR as essential to the maximization of such “responsiveness”?

Not essential to the maximization. Other methods can achieve similar results.

> S:  Does your preferred system need to waste some votes?  If so, how is this justified?

There is no such need, but that may be acceptable or practical. In practice all systems have some problems. A system that wastes only a very small percentage of the votes in a way that treats all parties and voters equally can be a good system (maybe the best that I can find for that environment).

> S:  Are you satisfied in this regard with the existing limit of 10% of all the weighted votes?

I could have proposed e.g. a system where the highest weight is at most two times the lowest weight. Here the society and its needs and interests are an important factor that defines what is good and what is not. Also the impacts on the practical work and working methods of the representative body need to be taken into account.

> S: Do you also see that APR would structural enable any such bias to be eliminated exactly to the degree desired by citizens.

No. I try to be exact with words here. APR would make it in principle technically possible to the voters to elect the candidates from those regions that they want. But not "to the degree that they desire" in the sense that even if they would say in an opinion survey that they want equal geographical representation, the outcome would probably not be balanced but a biased one (in favour of the most central cities and hollywood style figures with good national visibility).

> S: I think you already see that this understanding of “proportionality” as determined by numbers of voters, entirely conforms to APR.

Note that I referred to electing (always) n% of the representatives from a region that has n% of the citizens, voters or votes.

> S:  I accept that “taste” is currently, in fact, an important determinant in politics and in life generally.  However, do you not also agree that in politics, when “taste” conflicts with the conclusions based on the available evidence and rational thought, taste should be overruled?

If "taste" means only choice between orange and pink ballot paper, then I guess it will not have very big weight in any society. But often "taste" means e.g. choice between a two-party system and a multiparty system. Then it should have big weight. Evidence and rational thought are hard to measure in a political environment since all politicians think that they represent those values in the best possible way.

> ... if you believe “geographical … proportionality” should be justified by something other than the number of citizens who would join its geographically defined “electoral association”:

Geographic proportionality means that different regions will get their proportional share of the seats irrespeftive of how the voters vote.

> In any case, APR would enable all the citizens who understand and care about “the problems of the remote areas” to form an association to defend these areas in proportion to the weighted votes of this association’s reps.  Of course, some people who live anywhere in the country (including the cities) could be electors of this association.

Existing systems typically use some form of geographic proportionality when they want to guarantee some level of representation of the "remote areas". I believe that without any such mechanisms APR would lead to weaker representation of those areas than typical current systems. The fact that APR makes it possible to elect representatives from remote areas does not mean that it would do so.

> S:  As I see it, any group of citizens with the following would automatically be placed on the list of applicant organizations by the central electoral commission for APR’s Primary election:  payment of a small administration fee, ...

The alternative approach is not to have any primary but to have similar rules that restrict the participation of "associations" in the actual election. One typical restricting rule is to require certain number of supporter names to be collected before allowing some association to take part in the election.

> > > As a result of the above arrangements, APR, more than other systems, would seem to assist the development of a much closer identity between each elector and his representative, a more intense personal, ideological and mutual bond. This would seem to contrast, on average, with the more defuse and vague relations between the agendas of each elector and the representatives elected by other systems.
> > 
> J:  That is a rather general and strong statement.
> S:  Does this mean you think it is not justified?  If so, why not?

I just thik that words like "more than other systems" and "much closer ..." etc. are an overstatement. I just fail to see APR somewhere high above all the other proposed systems.

I think APR is a system with some interesting properties but also with some properties that I might not pick (of course depending on what the needs are and what society we are talking about). To me its highest value is in discussing the idea of the weighted representatives.
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