[EM] UK electoral systems "post mortem" discussion on radio

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Wed Jun 24 08:34:40 PDT 2015

Good Morning, Kristofer

re: "Ideally, proportionality *would* be internal. If it
      were, we could use single-winner methods to elect a
      large group of centrists, and each centrist would be
      internally proportional, being rather more like a judge
      than an advocate for his position. Each centrist would
      be able to consider all sides of an issue, weighing the
      different sides as the people would, and then come to a

The designation as centrist is valid as long as we recognize that what 
is centric under one set of time and circumstances is not necessarily 
what will be centric under a different set of time and circumstances.

I'm not sure that it's necessary to characterize the centrists as 
judges, except to the extent we all act in accordance with our own judgment.

As you say, such an arrangement would be ideal.  To date, we do not have 
a process for seeking such people and raising them to public office.

re: First, there's a matter of skill in itself. Being a
     balanced judge-representative requires considerable
     ability on part of the representative - moreso the fewer
     representatives there are on the council. They'd have to
     both be balanced, and to retain that balance in the face
     of corruption by power.

Organizing a large number of people in a way that lets them select the 
best of their number as their representative(s) requires a progressive 
selection that constantly narrows the field.  Those who advance are 
necessarily those with the greatest ability.  Whether or not they are 
balanced is a subjective issue; they will reflect the biases of those 
who selected them.

The corruption by power is limited by several factors:

1) Electees are individuals, not members of a voting bloc.  Their
    power is limited to their ability to influence other members
    of the body to which they were elected.

2) Corruption takes time and the selection process repeats.
    Given the size of the electorate, repeated selection will not
    be common.

3) Selection is face-to-face, so there is no need for the immense
    amounts of campaign money that corrupts party-based systems.

re: Second, election methods provide their own selection

The selection pressure in party-based systems starts long before the 
election.  Candidates cannot mount a viable campaign without party 
sponsorship.  They obtain sponsorship by agreeing to support the party. 
  The party, assured of the loyalty of its candidates, attracts donors 
because it can promise that its candidates will support the objectives 
of the donors who supply the immense amounts of money the party needs to 
sell their candidate to the people.  As has always been the case, He Who 
Pays The Piper Calls The Tune.  Thus, those who supply the money dictate 
the laws that burden the people.

re: Plurality selects the largest sufficiently cohesive
     group (the representative with a plurality).  IRV
     usually chooses from the strongest wing (the strongest
     individuals of the collectively strongest group by
     Plurality metrics); a similar logic holds for DAC and

That may be true, but each case assumes a party-based system. When we 
learn to organize a community in a way that lets every person in the 
community participate in the political process to the full extent of 
each individual's desire and ability, regardless of the strength or 
inclination of their views, parties can (and should) influence the 
process but they will not control it.  The "largest sufficiently 
cohesive group" will be the people, not a biased subset of the people.

re: I might be wrong, but if I'm not, then external PR
     methods will at least ensure some measure of
     proportionality ...

I believe you are right.  External PR methods do, at least, ensure some 
measure of proportionality.  The problem is the proportionality is made 
up of factions that are necessarily confrontational.  There is no 
rational attempt to address the issues facing the people.  There is no 
advocate of the common interest, only multiple advocates of competing 

In this connection, I should note that the political process in Frome is 
an extension of this problem.  It appears they have formed a new party - 
the no-party party - that suffers all the ills of party politics.  It is 
my hope that the IfF (Independents for Frome) group's democratic ideals 
extend to devising a way for every member of the community to 
participate in the political process, regardless their of partisan 

re: ... getting internal proportionality in the sense I
     mentioned above would then require a more nonstandard
     system, not just a change of election methods.


     As an example of a nonstandard system, consider a form
     of election by lot ...

Election by lot or sortition suffer because they make no attempt to seek 
out and elevate the most competent members of the community.  Ability 
and integrity are distributed throughout society.  We have a duty to 
ourselves and our progeny to devise a method, however nonstandard it may 
be, that sifts through the entire electorate to seek out those 
individuals with the qualities needed to meet contemporary challenges 
and raise them to leadership positions.

re: (the confrontational nature of proportionality as an
     external quality) "... might be an artifact of the
     current systems. Or, rather, even if we want external
     proportionality, we can make it a lot less
     confrontational with the right methods.

That is probably true, but wouldn't it make more sense to apply our 
intellect to curing the disease rather than treating its symptoms?

(I apologize for the delay in preparing and posting this.  Private 
matters intervened.)

Fred Gohlke

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