[EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Tue Jan 3 04:48:06 PST 2017

My assessment that the British civil servants' belief was "mistaken" is based on the German Federal version of AMS with closed lists and the British expectations of FPTP in single-member districts.  Over the years there have been a few examples of significant effects of 'personal' votes, but the idea that this provides real "personal choice" is just an illusion.  In each single-member district the voters are presented with a set of party lists each comprising one candidate only.  Sadly, this delusion of "choice" with FPTP in single-member districts persists in the UK to this day.

The single vote version of AMS (MMP) is not to be recommended because the measure of overall support for the various parties can be seriously distorted by tactical voting in the single-member districts, usually in an attempt to unseat the incumbent, but sometimes to keep out an "even worse" challenger.

There are indeed more open-list versions of party-list PR than closed-list versions in use in continental Europe  -  with a bewildering range of rules about how much choice is allowed within the open lists and how those choices are taken into account in allocating seats to parties and to candidates.  In some versions the openness of the list makes very little difference to the actual ordering of the allocation of seats, especially where the voters have the option to vote "for the party" and not exercise any choice within the list.  It also depends on the weighting given to the party's ordering against the expressed choices.

Ranking of the choices (with transferable votes) within a party list is essential if you want proportional representation WITHIN the party as well as PR among the parties.  Most open-list party-list PR systems do not provide this, so there is no proper assessment of PR WITHIN each party.  And PR WITHIN a party can be every bit as important as PR among the parties  -  just look in the UK today at the Conservative Party (split three ways on relations with the EU) and the Labour Party (split two or perhaps three ways on socialism).

And if you are going to have effective ranking WITHIN each party list, why not just use STV-PR?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Erik Moeller [mailto:eloquence at gmail.com]
> Sent: 03 January 2017 04:59
> To: jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
> Cc: ElectionMethods <electionmethods at votefair.org>; election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Subject: Re: [EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer
> On Mon, Jan 2, 2017 at 7:52 AM, James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote:
> > I have always understood that the British civil servants who
> > administered the British Occupied Zone after WWII had a large hand in
> > devising AMS, by combining the British FPTP system (with single-member
> > electoral districts) with the old Weimar system, in the
> > (mistaken) belief that this would introduce a significant element of
> > personal choice to what had been an impersonal closed-list party-list voting system.
> It's not completely mistaken as the directly elected candidates sometimes do enjoy high local popularity that propels them to unusual
> levels of success beyond the support for their party. But I think the single-vote variant is interesting in this regard, because the
> combination of party/person and the use of popular support to derive party lists means that individuals benefit from campaigning
> locally (they're more likely to get a list seat if they score well).
> Variants of this system that don't require full ranking but still increase intra-party competition are likely possible. For example, if voters
> could strike through the name of a person they absolutely don't want while still voting for the party, this would be a simple tool to
> further influence the list ranking.
> > Originally electors had only one vote; the two-vote ballot paper was
> > introduced for the Federal Bundestag elections in 1953.
> >
> > The predominance of closed-list party-list voting systems in
> > continental Europe
> Open lists are also widespread in continental Europe, as this map from Fairvote shows:
> http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/fairvote.geography-class/page.html#3/46.80/751.64
> Cheers,
> Erik

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