[EM] Single-winner Methods Empower Few?

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at t-online.de
Sat May 18 13:09:33 PDT 2019

On 03/05/2019 00.06, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> The Iron Law of Oligarchy is very strong, but key to democracy is
> *consent.* If the people consent to rule by a few, it is still
> oligarchy, but an oligarchy serving the people. I suppose Aristotle
> would call that aristocracy.

Consent doesn't need to lead to something that serves the people.
Suppose e.g. there's a Kodos and Kang scenario and the voters have grown
so used to FPTP that they can't think of an alternative. They might
consent to the lesser evil, but neither space alien would serve the people.

> The minimum level of consent is majority. A higher level of consent will
> generally lead to a stronger society, but my experience with "consensus
> rules" is that they lead to domination by a minority whenever the status
> quo favors them. Hence what I propose is the establishment of strong
> tradition for respect for the rights of minorities, without going so far
> as to remove power from the majority to decide the limits of power.

Jobst Heitzig once detailed an interesting variant on consensus rule:
everybody designates a consensus choice and a favorite. If enough of the
members choose the same consensus choice, then that option wins,
otherwise a random favorite is chosen.

The point of choosing a random favorite is that random ballot is both
strategyproof and unbiased. Since random ballot is not a particularly
good method beyond having these features, it provides an incentive for
some supermajority to agree on the consensus option.

(Jobst originally suggested the supermajority be unanimity, but there's
nothing stopping anyone from using "just" a supermajority.)

> In practical democratic rules for deliberative process, these rights are
> protected extensively, preventing a mere majority from steamrollering a
> significant percentage of members. For example, a motion for the
> Previous Question (called "cloture" in the U.S. Senate) requires a 2/3
> vote of those present under Robert's Rules. (The Senate reduced that to
> 60%, and the "nuclear option" uses another democratic loophole: an
> absolute majority of eligible voters -- the members -- can amend the
> rules at any time. This is the power of a majority, and it is causing
> much division because of the increasing power of political parties.
> Asset Voting could demolish the dependence on political parties, by
> creating a *fully representative* Electoral College which would then
> elect an Assembly, each seat being elected by unanimous agreement of
> electors holding a quota of votes. When we think of Asset under the
> present system, we think of ballots with a limited number of candidates
> on them, and ballot access is dominated by parties, but since Asset
> wastes no votes, it would no longer be necessary to vote strategically,
> sane strategy simply becomes "vote for whomever you trust most," and I
> add, generally, "and whom you can personally meet." There could be many
> thousands of those registering to be public voters.

In your other post, you gave an example of a nation of a million with 1%
of the voters being electors, and you furthermore said that Asset is
deliberation and negotiation.

That is one thing I've always found strange about Asset. How are you
going to get ten thousand people in a room to negotiate? (Or even "on
the internet to negotiate".) I imagine that the same quadratic scaling
problem that burdens direct democracy would come into play here too
unless there is some kind of shortcut that can be made.

But those shortcuts could well introduce serious path dependence into
the negotiation process itself. That's the kind of thing that makes IRV
behave so chaotically.

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