Best voting system?

First Past the Post   4 votes - 36 %
Alternative Vote   7 votes - 63 %
 
11 Total Votes
wipo: Dartboard by wiredog (4.00 / 1) #1 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 03:04:21 PM EST


Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

Contradiction by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #2 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 03:20:57 PM EST
I can't reconcile these two statements:

"The First Past the Post system is reasonably good at excluding destabilizing extremists from power"

"while AV favours bland mediocrities who are everyone's least objectionable choice."
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

AV takes it further by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 03:40:28 PM EST
After a bit more thought and research, I think that in terms of greatest help for extremists, it's:
AV < FPTP < PR

For example, consider Pauline Hanson's (of the somewhat extreme One Nation party in Australia) 1998 election result. Under FPTP she would have been re-elected with 36% of the vote, but under AV when the second preferences were reallocated she lost.

However, it's not totally certain AV will always punish extremists. If a racist party could get equal and fairly large numbers of second preferences from the left and the right, and get a few first preferences on its own, it might get in under AV, when it would have lost under FPTP.

In general though, the incentive under AV is for every candidate to be more bland than they would under FPTP, since they now need to pick up second preferences from all over the political spectrum. They can't just fire up their base enough to win with say 30% to 40% of the vote.

That means AV might appeal to Americans more, since you have polarized parties that are highly hostile to each other in rhetorical terms at least: more bland centralism might be welcome there. In Britain though, the major parties are quite ideologically similar already.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I don't buy that argument by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #5 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 05:39:30 PM EST
I can't imagine a racist party getting large numbers of second preferences.  They are by nature polarizing, and are therefore either going to get first preference or none.

It seems to me that the drive is towards the middle, which is perhaps "bland", but is diametrically opposed to driving extremists into power.  Extremists, by nature, have high negatives.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
I agree with this. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #7 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 07:37:04 PM EST
Actual results from jurisdictions using IRV (closely related to AV) indicate that it tends to force candidates to the middle and that it dramatically cuts down on negative campaigning because you don't want to so irritate the other guys' supporters that they won't consider you for second or third choice votes.

The current system used for most elections encourages extremists, too, because in many places only extremists can win the primary.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
maybe not nationally by lm (2.00 / 0) #8 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 07:50:25 PM EST
But, perhaps, in Ohio and similar states, such extremism might be welcome.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
As I said by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 01:27:09 AM EST
I think in general AV is likely to punish extremists more than FPTP. But I don't think it's completely impossible for an extremist party to prosper under AV.

Remember that they only need to be extremist on one issue. If their main focus is on the policy plank "kill all the Jews", they're free to adopt whatever other policies appeal most to the electorate. So on issues like the economy they're able to triangulate precisely on the centre ground if they like.

Historically, the original Nazi party used this tactic, positioning itself as a "third way" party. The name "National Socialist German Workers' Party" deliberately blended the left-wing buzzwords Socialist and Workers with the right-wing buzzwords National and German so that they could attract support from both left and right.

In more modern terms, though less extreme than the Nazis, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party did well in the Queensland 1998 state election. That was run under a system very much like the British implementation of AV, where you can rank as many candidates as you like, but don't have to rank all of them.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
The Nazis by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #11 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 02:52:56 AM EST
The Nazis got in due to a proportional representation system.  You can hardly use them as an example of an AV system.  There was never a free election where a majority of voters voted for Hitler or the Nazis.  The Nazis got no support from the left at all.  The political rhetoric that the Nazis used in the elections was not even remotely left of center.  In fact, their main rhetorical thread was to blame Germany's troubles on Jews and Bolsheviks.

The Nazis were able to come to power because of the proportional representation system.  They never had a majority of votes, but because their two main opponents, the communists and the social democrats, refused to ally, a government that didn't include them was impossible.  The rest is very grim history.

In regards to Queensland 1998, I don't think you can call one case of a third party gaining a small majority in a single province's legislative body indicative of much of anything.  In any case, if I read this right (table 2b) One Nation won the majority of the votes before preferences in 5 seats.  Is the difference between 5 of 89 seats and 11 of 89 seats a major flaw?  (Especially considering that a PR system would have given them 22 seats.)
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
No by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #12 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 03:06:10 AM EST
I was using the Nazis as an example of an extremist party cloaking itself as a Third Way party that's centrist on many issues.

As I said, I think in general AV is worse for extremists than FPTP, but it doesn't absolutely eliminate them. Queensland 1998 shows how it helped an extremist party on that occasion, boosting it from the 5 seats it would have under FPTP to 11 seats.

The thing is, AV isn't a very widely used system, so there isn't a vast amount of evidence available. So, it's subjective whether you judge whether Queensland 1998 is a disturbing warning sign, or a one-off anomaly. It's interesting that it was run under a system more like the UK's where it's optional whether to mark a candidate, while usually in Australia it's compulsory to mark all of them.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Perhaps a better way of thinking about it by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #13 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 03:12:45 AM EST
Is that AV punishes parties that are on average at the extremes of the political spectrum. So it hurts communists and right-libertarians more than it hurts racist parties with an otherwise centrist platform.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
I think that depends by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #20 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 10:21:19 AM EST
on how much of a deal-breaker the racism is for people. That is to say, if what you're saying is true, it means that a sizeable number of people claim to dislike racists, and maybe dislike them a little bit, but don't really give a flying fuck when push comes to shove.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
Pretty much by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #22 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 11:06:55 AM EST
I think most people don't like the word racism, but they're pretty much OK with the concept as long as it's disguised a little bit.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
sadly ... by R343L (2.00 / 0) #27 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 02:13:20 PM EST
While most people are not overt bigots, most tolerate a fair bit of bigotry in both their personal lives and political parties/leaders. As TE notes, though, it's cloaked.

Note that I include myself in this. Some of the reading I've been doing the last few weeks only drives home how little most of us (including me) really give a damn about fair treatment of all human beings.

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot

[ Parent ]
Nazis as examples by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #19 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 10:15:41 AM EST
You are using Nazis an example and are having them do in your example exactly what they did not do in real life.  Are extremists actually good at cloaking themselves?
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Well, it wasn't exactly a cloak by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #21 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 11:01:39 AM EST
Their economic policies were fairly middle of the road: large public works programmes like the Left wanted, but maintaining private companies like the right wanted. I'm sure plenty of voters thought something like "Well, I don't really care about the Jews one way or the other, but that shiny new autobahn system sounds pretty good."

This is getting a bit off-topic though really. I'm not saying AV encourages racist extremism, just pointing at some evidence that it's not a complete panacea against it.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
That supposition by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #25 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 12:32:07 PM EST
Is somewhat at odds with the histories I've read.  I somehow doubt the German voters failed to notice the Nazis and Communists fighting in the streets.

In any case, I don't mean to say that AV is a panacea at all...but it seems to me that it is certainly better than the alternatives in that regard.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Initially, they cloaked themselves by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #29 Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 09:59:04 AM EST
and loosed the SA beatdowns on any residents who threatened to remove the cloak.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by mellow teletubby (2.00 / 0) #15 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 03:49:24 AM EST

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[ Parent ]
You're misinformed about Dickensian Britain by dmg (2.00 / 0) #32 Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 01:42:43 PM EST
 New Labour in the UK, namely a party of the left, introduced laws bringing back personal liberty to Dickensian time level.

If only they had!

Back in those days there was no ridiculous gun control law, and no continuous cctv monitoring of the population.

And where on earth do you get the assumption that the "left" is interested in personal liberty? History demonstrates the opposite was always the case
 

 

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dmg - HuSi's most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
(Comment Deleted) by mellow teletubby (2.00 / 0) #14 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 03:29:41 AM EST

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[ Parent ]
My suspicion by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #26 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 12:33:48 PM EST
It is too easy to assume that people who vote for racists have been duped then it is to consider that they might just be racist.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
extremists by R343L (2.00 / 0) #4 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 04:25:06 PM EST
Perhaps it's more due to the common US primary system but it really doesn't seem like first past the post excludes extremists. In the US it seems to mean that your general election choices are between one extremist and another (at least as compared to the overall electroate).

"There will be time, there will be time / To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet." -- Eliot
[ Parent ]
yes. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #6 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 07:35:02 PM EST
except in WA and (now) CA, you have to cater to the extremes, because they're the ones who vote in the primary. Which is why CA has twice now changed the primary system to try to avoid that.

Oakland and SF use a form of AV for their local elections. The result in the Mayor's election last fall flabbergasted everyone - the winner was not the person who had the most first-place votes, which upset some people - but from what I can tell it worked as intended: it allowed people who disagreed on their first choice to agree that they really didn't want THAT GUY, and combine their votes to keep THAT GUY out. Result: a consensus candidate who has the support of a majority rather than a plurality.

It does tend to drive candidates towards moderate stances, and it particularly tends to cut down on negative campaigning. But both of these are positive side-effects.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.

[ Parent ]
Run-offs by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #9 Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 09:43:43 PM EST
It's not quite the same thing, as people have a long-term opportunity to think about their second choice after the first choice goes away.  (And can even revert their first choice.)

It does have similar results.  I really like the way it's worked in the elections I've seen.  It also has the advantage that the winner gets 50% or more of the vote in the last election.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Votes by priestess (4.00 / 2) #16 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 06:56:56 AM EST
"by looking at the first preferences, it will be possible to see who would likely have won under FPTP"

If you assume that everyone would have voted for their first preference. The reason I favour AV is exactly because it allows people to vote primarily for their favoured candidate with a backup second-choice of the lesser-of-evils.

Like this one I'm sure you've seen:
http://rdouglasjohnson.com/misc/av-dogshit.gif

Still, AV is also pretty sucky. Last time I wrote to my MP I disowned her and I suspect I'd be no more represented in an AV election than I was after the last one.

It's a hard choice, similar to the hard choices I seem to get every election. Vote for a system which will leave me without representation, or vote for a system which will leave me without representation.

Like when I vote for either someone who doesn't represent my opinions, or I vote for someone else who also doesn't represent my opinions.

I wonder how much we've postponed proper political reform by messing about with this pointless half-measure?

Pre................
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Chat to the virtual me...

There is real choice in politics by Herring (2.00 / 0) #17 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 07:33:01 AM EST
You can choose which of Rebekah Brooks' dinner guests or horse riding buddies gets to be PM. And who is more upstanding than a person who admits to financially supporting many of our police officers.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Dogshit and parma violets by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #23 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 11:21:20 AM EST
I've never liked that whole kind of analogy.

Voting is intrinsically a collective process. The people together try to choose a government that will be stable, effective and representative.

So I don't really like the way "reformers" try to frame voting as an individual consumer choice. "I want to vote for a party, why can't I get my choice." It's not about you, it's about us.

If everybody agreed on everything, we wouldn't need democracy: one person could just decide everything. The reason we need it is that people disagree. Any policy that's parma violets to one person, is dogshit to another. It's an intrinsic part of democracy that some people are going to get what they think of as dogshit.

Suppose that half the people mostly just want an effective government that can get stuff done. Then there's an election under an ultra-PR system that puts in MPs from a vast number of tiny different parties, and they can't actually get anything done. You might be happy saying "I got exactly the representative I want, even if he can't actually do anything". But you've just delivered dogshit to that half of the population who want action, not just representation.

The real question is, would a different electoral system, across the country, deliver more kilotons of parma violets and fewer kilotons of dogshit?
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Hmm. by Herring (4.00 / 1) #24 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 11:42:25 AM EST
Looking at things like the NHS "reforms" I'd be happy with a lot less action. Surely one of the issues over the last 14 years or so has been Too Many Fucking Laws.

One of my trigger phrases for violent thoughts is "doing nothing is not an option".

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Individual consumer choice by priestess (4.00 / 1) #28 Thu Apr 21, 2011 at 08:58:49 AM EST
I do indeed want individual consumer choice in my representative. I'm sure you've heard me say before that until I can pick and change my representation in the house as easily as I can pick and change my electricity provider I'll continue to want more reform.

Do parliaments with 600 viewpoints rather than >300 whipped party-mp's actually not get anything done? As far as I can tell there aren't any examples of that kinda state to study, but the PR countries in permanent coalitions emphatically do get things done. Germany isn't some kind of limp horse!

Thing is, while stability and effectiveness may be useful things in a government, they are not what gives a government legitimacy. That can only come from being representative.

I'd sooner have a legitimate representative government that's unstable and ineffective than an illegitimate unrepresentative government forcing it's will on the people who mostly voted against it.

Course, a two-house solution could actually make us both happy. A strong and stable house of MPs and a legitimately representative people's house.

Which one has superiority when they fight would be the question I guess.

No sign of reforming the lords by making it into a system where all citizens can nominate a representative who's voting power is proportional to the number of people he represents though. Indeed, all the reforms suggested by "strong stable" governments seem to want to make the Lords into a mirror of the commons. Strong, Stable, and completely unrepresentative of the wants and needs of the people.

Bah.

I keep meaning to give up on politics.

Pre...............

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Chat to the virtual me...

[ Parent ]
legitimacy by lm (2.00 / 0) #30 Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 07:33:54 AM EST
It seems to me that stability and effectiveness are part of the legitiacy question. Within certain bounds, history seems to suggest that most people don't question the legitimacy of a non-representative government so long as it is stable and effective in providing the services expected by the peope from a government.

Even in the American revolution, where one pf the slogans was no taxation without representation, the patriots were a minority movement. About a third of the country were loyalists and about a third of the country didn't really care one way or the other.

I think a good argument can made that being representative is necessary, but not in itself sufficient, for long term stability of a government. But I'm not convinced that it's an immediate source of legitimacy.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #31 Fri Apr 22, 2011 at 10:06:20 AM EST
First, on party size, it may well be that to you, all you care about is representation, niot what laws are passed or what policy is implemented. So for you, a tiny party is parmae about what violets. But ither pweople do care abbout policies and laws.So if you get parma violets, you've given them dogshit. Arguments from what I want aren't necessarily convincing overall.

Second, let's look a bit closer at AV

Now in terms of proportionality, it's a compromise between FPTP and PR. But in terms of extremism it's not. PR is more favourable to extremism than FPTP, but FPTP is more favourable than AV. So a move to AV is a move in the opposite direction to PR:

AV < FPTP < PR

Under FPTP you can get in on a minority by energizing your base. You don't have to care what people distant on the political spectrum think. Under AV, you need to get their lower preferences, and deny those to your enemies. So AV gives a bland, centrist, conformist consensus politics.

That's why Fiji and Papua New Guinea use it, to smooth over harsh conflicts. That's why Australia uses it to balance out a PR other house. But I don't see why the UK needs more bland centrism.

Suppose a constituency had a substantial minority of religious conservatives who always vote for Party A. Under FPTP, candidates for parties B and C can say controversiall things like "Only an idiot thinks the world was created in 4004BC", and "Gay people should have exactly the same marriage rights as straight people, not just civil partnerships". B and C aren't getting their votes anyway.

But under AV, B and C want their lower preference votes, and to deny them from C and B. So they dare not say such mildly controversial things, and have to stick to utter blandness.

So before you vote for AV, I hope you've considered something. Are you part of the bland centre it's meant to help, or are you part of the wild fringe it's intended to exclude?
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
WIPO by Phage (2.00 / 0) #18 Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 08:07:32 AM EST
Trial by combat.


More unconvincing arguments? by Tonatiuh (2.00 / 0) #33 Tue Apr 26, 2011 at 07:45:11 AM EST
"Coalitions are bad"

No they aren't. Let me rephrase that, they are not objectively, demonstrably bad.

Germany can deal with them for example, Scotland and Wales can deal with them. Even Northern Ireland can deal with them, surely the wider British nation can as well.

As for the manifestos of the political parties, when have they been worth the paper they are written on? Didn't Labour abandon many pledges and implement many others that they didn't even mention? Ignoring manifestos is not a characteristic of coalitions, it is a characteristic of how elect governments work because there is no legal accountability regarding thos pledges, associating this with AV  is demonstrably bogus.

If people are not supporting a party decisively the voting system should not shoehorn a winner, that disinfranchises voters, is unfair, undemocratic and frankly perverse, if voters are not sending a clear signal the voting system should not deliver one.

"Effective government"

Are you having a laugh? I can think of several UK governments that were utterly innefective because they have lost public credibility.

During wars or big crisis politicians coalesce around the government of the day any way (ask how it felt to be Conservative and support Tony Blair adventurism) that would not change in any way whatsoever once you have elected a Parliment, irrespective of the method.

"Punishes extremists to a degree"

Extremists say they prefer FPTP (BNP).

Non extremist small parties support AV (the Greens).

That is all what one would need to know about this particular point.

"Greater legitimacy of government"

So you find the last Labour government, who took around 35% of the popular vote (even less if you consider all the people that didn't vote) a good example of legitimacy?

Elections in the UK as they are leave a lot of people resentful, unless you have a landslide in which it is pretty obvious that everybody wanted change (i.e. Labour in 1997) because they know they are not represented properly.

AV may not be the solution, but at least it would add genuine legitimacy to each constituency result (in many countries they have 2nd rounds of elections, AV is just that, but using resources better, since elections are costly, the claim that AV is used in only 3 countries is suspect since countries with 2nd rounds of voting are asking the electorate to take a similar decision in regards to a candidate that should be the most popular in order to obtain a mandate).

At least you didn't link to one of the embarrasing Conservative videos and didn't claim the the referendum or AV will kill babies, you get brownie points for that.