[EM] APR (7): Steve’s 7th dialogue with Juho (Steve)

steve bosworth stevebosworth at hotmail.com
Fri Dec 12 06:55:54 PST 2014

APR (7):  Steve’s 7th dialogue with Juho


From: election-methods-request at lists.electorama.com

> Subject: Election-Methods Digest, Vol 126, Issue 11

> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com

> Date: Wed, 10 Dec 2014 08:56:05 -0800

> 1. Re: APR (6): Steve?s 6th dialogue with Juho (Steve) (Juho Late)


> ----------------------------------------------------------------------



> >
J: [APR] 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 [APR] 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:  Please see the discussion below about “criteria”.


J:  …. [APR] is not ideal either. And different
systems are good for different needs, so it is not even possible to judge the
preference of a pair of systems by comparing them component by component. I
think it is easier to analyze one system at a time, and compare it to the given
targets (possibly separately to the targets of the person who asks, and to
one's own targets). Comparison to other systems is possible too, but just to
add some useful viewpoints or to find possible candidate systems.

> S: Yes, but that is why I asked you to focus on one concrete system for
your recommendations, e.g. your own county?s. 
Would it be possible for you to describe and justify the system that
would be “best” for your country by using “reason” as defined at the end of
this post?

> S: According to what criteria, if any, do you want to judge any electoral
system as ?high? or ?ideal?? Are you willing to discuss the more detailed
reasons I have previously given for making the above claims and to explain
exactly how they ?overstate? the case when compared and contrasted to your
preferred system according to such criteria? 
Please see below for a recollection of these claims and reasons.


J:  I'm happy to discuss any
(interesting) claims. The overstatements are something like jumping right away
to saying "the best" (and asking for a confirmation to that) of a
complex system that clearly has both positive and negative points from the
points of view of most readers.


> > J: 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.

> > 

> > S: In this event, what exactly would permission to ?participate? in
the ?actual election? involve?  How would it be different from the roles envisioned by APR?


J: The key difference in my description above was that there would be no
primary. The right of a grouping to participate would be decided by other

S:  Would you be willing to spell out these
“other means” and explain how they would be as effective as the ones offered by

> > J: 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 …


S:  What do you mean by “internal


J:  … and geographical proportionality more
exact. I could use also the idea of representatives with different weights.


S:  Of course I would be happier with this but it
seems that these additions from APR could undermine the “geographical proportionality”
which you want. 


J:  … I would however keep the weight differences
between representatives smaller (partly because of the tradition)??.

> > 

> > S: I accept that the current APR limit of 10% is somewhat arbitrary
but do you have a reason for wanting it to be small? What percent? Why is
?tradition? important to you here?


J:   Tradition is important because it is an
important political factor because it is important to many others. I thus
recognize the fact that small changes are easier than radical changes.

S:  Yes, in practice, traditions can slow
progress but it would help me to understand your values better if you could
specify the long term ideal electoral system for your country toward which you
would like your country to move as fast as possible.

J:  If I would use a high limit like 10%,
I would probably tweak the system also in some other ways, somehow balancing
the system, for example by giving the top representatives more assistants or
more speaking time. …


S:  I would expect an APR assembly to approve
such “assistants or speaking time”.


… My preference would be to start from lower figures in the first (experimental
real life) systems. Maybe I could prove the benefits of the new system better
that way.


> > J: ?.. 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.

> > 

> > S: Which ?enhancements? do you value and how are you going to get
them without APR?


J:  Better political and geographical
proprtionality can be achieved in many ways, with or without APR. For example
by allowing also small groupings to win seats (seats allocated at national
instead of regional level, and no cutoffs in some countries), and to improve
political propotionality within the parties using ranked votes (in STV style).


S:  APR’s Primary provides an automatic mechanism
by which “small groupings” can win seats, as well as determine where the
“cutoffs”, if any, will be.  How would
your preferred mechanisms avoid making these decisions arbitrarily?


> > S: Why do you want to ?strengthen geographic proportionality??


J:  Geographic proportionality may be
quite exact at district level, but if those districts are large (as typical in
multiparty countries), geographic proportionality within those large districts
may be poor. Geographic proportionality is typically considered good because it
supports local representatives that are close to the voters and they represent
the values of those voters better that representatives that have no connection
to that area.

S:  How do you answer the argument that APR has the
advantage of providing an objective test of the extent to which these “local
representatives” are (or are not) “close to the voters
and represent the values of those voters”, i.e. a test of what you
report as “typically considered” by some unknown source, based or not based on

> > S: Previously I have explained exactly how an APR citizen?s general
election vote is completely ?secret?


J:  I understood that it is possible to
hide one's preferences but generally that is not the case (some opinions will
be revealed). …


S:  Please explain more fully, do you mean
“revealed” voluntarily or even when citizens are determined to keep them


J:  ... I believe the system [APR] also gives
those voters that reveal their preferences somewhat easier or more efficient
ways to influence the outcome.


S:  Do you mean this “ease and efficiency” is an
advantage offered by APR as I do? Or that citizens who publicly join a
particular association during the Primary will be more vulnerable to being
bribed or coerced?  If the latter, please


J:  In countries that support full voter
privacy, any steps in that direction would probably be quite unacceptable. …


S:  You seem not to have accepted my earlier
explanations of the different exact ways that each APR voter can keep their
real party preferences absolutely secret. 
Please explain why you do not accept that explanation?


J:  … I'm used to a system where the system
intentionally makes it impossible to the voters even to prove (to outsiders)
how they voted. …


S:  APR is one of these systems.


J:  …This is related to the risks of vote buying,
coercion (= violent husband telling his wife "how the family will
vote"), risk of revealing one's hidden opinions, risk of group pressure
against minorities etc.


S:  Yes, and that is why I also favour APR’s


> > S: Do you not see that APR?s Primary would make it easier for new
additional parties ?associations? also to field candidates and that this would
allow them and their electors to benefit more, both qualitatively and from the
exact proportionality offered by APR?


J:   I think this can be achieved also without a
primary. APR may have some nice ideas on how this process could work, but it is
possible to achieve similar kind of results also with much simpler


S:  Please give me details of these “much simpler
arrangements” that you have in mind.


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

> > > 

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

> > 

> > S: Please explain these ?other methods?.


J: Responsiveness is a very wide topic and a question that addresses all the
aspects of a democratic system. I can't give a generic answer to this. Many
methods have many positive properties.


S:  I have not asked for a “generic answer” but feel
that it would be helpful if you would describe your preferred alternatives to
each of the following claimed advantages offered by APR:  

The fact that APR allows each citizen to guarantee that their own vote
will continue mathematically to count in the assembly through the weighted vote
of their most favoured rep would seem maximally to encourage all citizens to
participate politically.

Also, APR would probably provide more attractive candidates and thus a
closer ideological identity between each citizen and his rep.   APR’s associational
structure would seem to assist, on average, the development of such more
intense personal, ideological and mutual bonds than the more defuse and vague
relations between the agendas of each elector and the representatives elected
by other systems. 


evolution of these closer relationships would grow partly as a result of the
time between the two elections.  Firstly,
the “bottom-up” Primary might prompt more electors to start to familiarize
themselves with the existing members and other potential candidates of their
preferred organizations. Thus, each APR representative is more likely to have
been known and explicitly favoured by his electors at least several months
before the general election. Consequently, the ideological fit between each set
of APR’s associations, electors, and representatives is likely to be much
closer than that between each set of parties, districts, electors, and
representatives in other systems.


a consequence of this bond, the focus of each APR representative’s work both
within the assembly and with his electors and association is more likely to be
clear. This increases the probability that each elector of a given
association’s representative(s) will also be represented more efficiently in
the assembly, that the quality of representation offered by APR is likely to be
better than that provided by other systems. 

Primary discovers which voluntary organizations should be officially recognized
to have a proportionate extra political status and electoral function. The
recognition of these associations would provide an additional democratic
channel for more enthusiastic participation in the political process both by
these associations and their electors. This recognition also gives each
association and its elected rep(s) an opportunity to plan and to focus their
combined resources more efficiently to help shape the binding decisions taken
by the state. Thus, representation is made more efficient by also being supported by the
activities of each citizen’s preferred and officially energized association; 

political thinking by the body politic is also likely to be assisted by the
important additional knowledge discovered by the Primary.  It would more reliably discovered the degree
to which each previously well known, less know, and unknown ideology, party,
interest group, or club is, or is not, relevant to the real concerns of the
people. This knowledge would enable all citizens, associations, potential
candidates, and representatives more efficiently to plan how each can help to
shape the laws.

Because  APR’s ‘associations’ would  have some communication and mobilization
resources that are entirely independent of celebrity, the richest sections of
society, and the mass media, this would probably help reduce the relative
power of these sometimes anti-democratic forces in determining how people vote.
This is because many citizens could more firmly, securely, and independently
use the following opportunity provided by APR: to see their favoured
association and its representatives as providing an essential part of the best
way to promote and protect their own abiding interests and values. 

a legislative assembly composed of such different clashing, yet trusted and
well focused reps would seem more likely to provide an optimal debating and
negotiating chamber for the production of laws based on evidence and rational
thought (please see the definition of “reason” at the end of this post). This
is because it would more accurately reflect the real variety and intensity of
people’s concerns. If so, this assembly would also be better able to respond to
the imperative to form a working majority in the assembly in order to produce
wise legislative solutions to problems, i.e. solutions also agreeable to a
majority of the people. The fact that each APR representative, on average, is
more likely to be focused and trusted by his or her electors would seem better
to enable them also to arrive at any necessary compromises between the
contending parties and representatives to achieve their common ends.

> > S: What is it in your ?environment? or system that makes ?wasting
some votes ? acceptable ? and ? maybe best??


J:  All systems have some problems,
rounding errors and there may be tradeoffs when trying to meet many different
requirements at the same time. It is very much ok to trade between all
different requirements so that the overall quality of the system (taking also
into account practical limitations like the political environment) will be

S:  Tradeoffs are only necessary if 2 or
more relevant values conflict.  The only
2 that I see as potentially in conflict are: 
A) the desire to maximize the representation of each citizen by the rep
she most trusts, and B) the desire to have a legislature that is most likely to
make laws based on evidence and rational thought.  Because “A” by itself could theoretical
produce mathematically a dictator in the legislature, “B” has prompted APR’s
10% limit on the weighted votes that can be retained by any rep.  This means that any law would have to be
agreed to by a group of reps who together have more than 50% of the weighted
votes, i.e. at least 6 reps.


Do you see any additional values or yours that are potentially in conflict
and which would require more tradeoffs in your preferred  electoral system?  If so, please explain. 


J: Working methods could certainly be improved also in APR, since I
guess it is still pretty much a draft method.

S: Perhaps mistakenly, currently, I do not see any remaining flaws in
the most recent “draft” of APR.  Please tell
me about any that you see and suggest any corrections.

> > S: Why do you say ?probably? given the explanations of how APR?s
associations should help to reduce the power of the rich, celebrity, and the
mass media?  Please see above list.


J:  I think it is very probable that APR
would not give perfect geographic proportionality.


> > S: Of course, you are correct that not all citizens may in practice
be sufficiently rational to take full advantage of the fact that APR does
?enable? them to remove any bias "to the degree that they desire".
However, those who are rational in this sense would help to achieve this
benefit, not in some other ?opinion survey [about]? equal geographical
representation? but both through APR?s open Primary and its secret general
election rankings: each citizen is equally enabled to help determine the exact
degree to which each geographically defined ?association? (district) will be
represented in the assembly. If all citizens take full advantage of this
option, each ?district?s? reps will together have a ?weighted vote? in the
assembly equal to all the votes they have received from all the citizens in the
country. Perhaps this clarifies the misunderstanding brought to light by the
next 2 paragraphs. Please ask me to explain this more fully if necessary.


J:  In my terminology, I think you are
saying that APR's political proportionality could approximate the results of
geographic proportionality (fully or to some extent) if the voters so wish. …


S: Yes.


J:  …That is different from
implementing geographic proportionality (that guarantees each region its proportional
share of the seats).

S:  I now understand that your
“geographic proportionality” will be entirely determined by the number of
citizens who happen to live in the relevant district.  Do you accept that this means that in some
cases, some of these citizens will not be able to help elect any candidate that
they like or trust.  Please explain why
you want to deny these citizens this APR option.

> > J: 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.

> > ……………………….

S: Yes, many people, including ?politicians think that they represent those
values?. What about you? Do you not think that reason and evidence can be
objective? e .g. in ?science? or in ?philosophy??


J: Scientific method can be used in a very rational way. Same with any logical
and sensible discussions. Political and social discussions often do not pay
much attention to respecting such rigid practices.


S:  Do you give highest importance
to “evidence and rational thought” in your own “political and social
discussions”?  I want to assume that you
do because you are freely engaging in our dialogue.  If you do value “reason” as defined below at
the end of this post, we both want to discover an electoral system that
maximizes the chances that rational laws will be made.  If so, I would very much appreciate it if you
would detail your constructive criticisms of my above explanation of how APR
would be such a system.

S:  While ?evidence? sometimes includes
?measurement?, not all evidence does. In any case, I see all arguments and
evidence as capable of being examined and assessed by any person using
?reason?, which I want to define as follows:


Reasoning is the conscious thought process that searches for true answers to
any significant questions about any element of reality (sensory, social or
self-conscious), i.e. about what reality was, is, will be, or ought to be. A
person does this with the help of other people whenever possible by,

> > 1) comparing all of the different answers proposed. She compares them
with respect to,

> > 2) their abilities to describe and explain the sensory, social or
spiritual experience being asked about,

> > 3) their avoidance of logical self-contradictions, and

> > 4) the way they do or do not fit in well with all of the answers to
the many other questions with which she is currently satisfied, i.e. comparing
them with regard to the current extent to which each answer seems to be an
integral part of the seemingly true and most comprehensive theory of all

> > The answer that best satisfies these four interrelated points would
be seen by those using reason to be the most rational answer for the time
being. The previous sentence appropriately indicates that a rationalist
recognizes that any answer or conclusion that she comes to, may have to be
changed in the light of new evidence or arguments, i.e. reason recognizes that
any conclusion may later prove to be false (or not yet complete) and thus that
each answer or conclusion must be assumed to be tentative (conditional or
provisional). Such an answer would also be objective provided only that it did
not depend on some experience that is currently capable only of being private
to the thinker concerned.?

> > 

> > S: What do you think?


J: The scientific method and Wikipedia are good examples of areas where people
have been able to expand such rational practices also to discussions of a
group. Political discussions may include some individuals with rational
thinking and argumentation, but as a whole, political debates are something
else. The best strategy in political discussions (if one's target is to win the
debate in question) usually is not that of rational argumentation.


S:  Winning is not the most
important thing for me.  Instead, I hope
we can work together to discover the most rational and practical electoral
system in the above sense.  What do you


> Juho


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