Here in Canada one of Trudeau's platforms was to get rid of first-past-the-post. But he nixed it when he found out the committee was going to recommend mixed-member-proportional (which would probably hurt his parties chances) rather than ranked ballots (which would definitely help his party).
(Of course, sometimes those future savings wouldn't have happened anyways, due to unreasonably optimistic assumptions about the performance of the economy.)
Second, even if everybody knew who was going to be the loser from the changes 8 years in advance, that's not enough. That party would have to be strong enough under the current system to undo the changes. In practice, that would require controlling the House, the Senate, and the Presidency... unless both parties decide that they would lose power to third parties, and strike a deal.
E.g., in the first cycle, extreme candidate A wins the actual election while the moderate, B, is shown to be widely tolerated under the approval system. Nearly half the voters--those who voted for the opposite extreme, C, end up loathing the results of the actual election and wishing in retrospect that the approval system had been in place. Perhaps in the second election cycle, candidate A wins re-election because they're a known-quantity/incumbent.
Finally, in the third cycle, history starts repeating itself and people get tired of A's party. E.g., the Overton window slides back towards C's perspectives leading to C being seated. This time the people who still prefer A are disgusted with the outcome and prefer the outcome of the approval system.
At this point, half the voters have long argued that the approval system makes more sense and the other half has also come around to thinking maybe it could bolster their position as well. It'd only remain for less partisan activists to e.g., get a petition going towards a referendum.
It's hard to predict the short-term beneficiary parties when it goes into effect, sure, but its quite easy to predict the long term ideological benefit of increases in proportionality on modern democracies.
Ironically, that may make near immediate implementation more viable, if their is a divergence between the expected short-term and long-term impacts, and those expected to benefit believe they can use that to preempt the naturally expected long term benefit but those who would expect that long term benefit don't believe their opponents will succeed at that.
The way that we look at it is instant runoff voting has been passed as a ballot initiative in a number of cities, but we see approval voting as producing better outcomes, and having better political dynamics compared to instant runoff voting. Approval voting is also so much easier, and it avoids a lot of the problems.
If instant runoff voting can win, then surely, a simpler voting method that produces good outcomes and has good dynamics should also be able to do it."
This problem is negated when the is a consistent meaning to approval or disapproval markings, which can happen with non-secret ballots tied to concrete commitments. Approval is, for that reason, an excellent voting method to decide group activities in a social group, where an approve vote is a binding opt-in to the activity if it is chosen (or if a disapprove vote is a binding opt-out.)
For the same reason (the lack of a concrete definition of what “approve” or “disapprove” means), approval is not really simpler than IRV (or other ranked ballots) methods, even if the space of possible ballot markings is narrower.
Folks cite the fact that fringe parties only receive 1%ish of the vote in Canada as evidence that this is not a valid concern but it is easy to see how voter behaviour would change as campaign mechanics changed due to a PR system. (These arguments rather conveniently ignore the number of Green Party votes that Canadians in most ridings cast knowing they are throwing their vote away when arriving at the 1% number.)
-- Like the "pirate party", which is really doing a good job on pushback against all kinds of corporate enrochement against copyright laws. (like the stupid Spain link tax).
Sometimes these 'fringe' parties bring ideas and raise concerns on issues that the major parties are not considering due to their self interests.
Sometimes they are down-righty looney, but I think the positives on having small parties represented outweighs the negatives.
AMS/PR has had the effect of forcing parties to work together much more in Scotland than has ever happened in the FPTP UK Parliament. I would dearly love for the UK Parliament to learn some positive lessons from the Scottish experience, but I doubt I'll see it in my lifetime.
I really like AMS - it retains the direct constituency link of a member for a region elected via FPTP, with the fairness of additional regional members selected proportionally resulting in a pretty proportionate outcome. The downside is that it creates two classes of member - those elected via FPTP, those elected via what AMS calls the 'list', and of course the complexity of giving people two votes instead of one that behave in different ways. The first vote is a classic FPTP, the second vote applies to the list. Your party's performance in the FPTP vote affects the "weight" of any list votes you receive, which is how the system remains proportional. As I said, it's a pain to explain, but one of the fairest systems I've experienced.
Plus, you don't already see the Republican party in the US as the type of extremist party you worry a "fringe party" could become?
Canada has mostly solved the gerrymandering problem and where geography makes solving it impossible the strong party system makes MPs that want to act irresponsibly accountable to a party that has battles to win in other places that make their positions untenable.
I am open to some examples of fringe parties that have made significant positive contributions to the status quo, I would like to see some examples that are of more significance than the negative effects pseudo-fascist parties rising Europe have had.
There's nothing stopping the government from saying "A party must have 5% of the vote to be awarded any PR/list seats" in order to keep the fringe parties from grabbing individual seats here and there. BC just released their suggestions for an October referendum on reforming provincial elections, and that was part of all three suggested systems.
If lightning strikes once and you get an MP into parliament after that as a private member that MP is going to get a lot of media attention, it will immediately change politics because with large parties member discipline is important whereas in an MMP system a party that has no hope of ever winning it all has the reverse incentive - they are 100% committed to whipping up their "base" for their pet issue.
They are welcome to participate in democracy and do the hard work to get their ideas into the mainstream of Canadian public opinion but they are not "entitled" to a system that gives them representation in a specific way. One should be honest with oneself about how representative democracy works and not pretend that the purpose is to have every hair-brained idea at the table.
Democracy doesn't start and stop with elections.
But yes, at the very least, use the Approval vote. It has way better statistical properties than Ranked Voting.
Also Canadians do not like minority governments. Proportional representation is not that popular on Canada.
Also we like simple systems with simple voting strategies. MMP is very complicated. Lots of weird tactics like voting for a small party but a candidate from a bigger party.
Proportional representation doesn't need to result in minority governments. Proportional voting is very common in Europe but minority governments aren't.
Just means parties need to find common themes on which they agree, and compromise on some their more controversial goals. Finland has had up to six parties in a single government to make sure tough decisions can be passed.
The NDP/Green coalition in BC is new, but seems OK so far, and that same minority aspect probably tempers the behaviour of both parties.
I do need to do some homework before the referendum though.
To me the answer to Trudeau's concerns was so obvious; just do mixed-member-proportional, but limit the number of top-up seats to 2x or 3x the number of riding based seats won by the party.
That way we don't have to put up with the lunatic fringe, but we still fix the warping effects of FPTP.
The "fringe" party he's concerned about is the NDP.
Can't this be reasoned scientifically?
There is no need to use small, single-winner voting districts to choose the members of the Parliament. Make voting districts 5-10 times larger and use proportional voting. Arrow's Theorem is not valid for that kind of systems.
There are other voting systems that get around this. Kenneth Arrow himself was into non-ordinal voting systems.
This interactive graph predicting outcomes for different voting methods convinced me that this is much harder to do than it would seem. Very much worth checking out the link. I think maybe I found it on HN.
The further to the right a voting method is, the more it "maximizes happiness" for the voters
Why should group satisfaction with the winner be the important metric? Surely good governance should be the most important metric. If the quality of government is too hard to measure then length of time before overthrow or revolution should be a good proxy.
Markets are supposed to be efficient they match demand with production efficiently, or some such. Political demand needs to be matched with equal efficiency. Imposing good governance into a voting system will very likely create distortions.
The purpose of elections is not to be happy with the outcome of the election, it's to be happy with the policy that results from the election.
If closer to personal preference is better, shouldn't direct democracy - absolute majority rule - be the ideal? But it's clearly not the case, at least not in any sizeable country.
If welfare helps people in the short term, but reinforces cycles of poverty is that good for the country or not?
If nationalized medicine helps people in the short term, but eliminates the incentive for medical innovation is that good or bad?
It's almost like this is a really complicated problem that the best and brightest have been thinking about for centuries.
a body of persons, corporation, or industry that seeks or receives benefits or privileged treatment, especially through legislation.
It's code for above-the-median-wealthy, enough to influence opinion outside of the populist opinion. Why you choose to go partisan over a systemic issue, is beyond me.
- religious groups wanting faith-based educational programs
- farmers wanting crop subsidies (hugely powerful in the US)
- internet users wanting net neutrality
- conservation groups wanting to preserve parks or endangered species
- unions wanting occupational safety regulations
- retirees wanting increased social security
You might even agree with some of these.
Wouldn't that only be true if preferences are roughly normally distributed (or some other fat-middle distribution)?
And if that's the case, shouldn't the outcomes of the voting system tend towards a moderate middle?
Approval voting allows voters to vote for 3rd party candidates without "throwing their vote away". That would be a huge improvement over first-past-the-post, as 3rd party candidates would have a decent chance of winning if they can make a compelling case to voters.
At the extreme end, a legislature consisting of communists, anarchists, facists, theocrats, and hippies wouldn't accomplish anything but igniting civil war.
I would think all those groups together would only make what, max 20% of the US electorate? In a proportional system, they would still be a minority of the Parliament. And the internal disagreements within that minority of the representatives would prohibit them from joining forces and using even their 20% of the power. The rest 80% could mostly just ignore those fringe groups.
I think the main problem is the single-winner election system itself, and even the best voting mathematics can do only very little to help that. They all will still lead to a two-party system.
Only the presidential elections need to be single-winner. But for all other political bodies, a proportional system where at least 5 to 10 representatives are chosen from each voting district, would be better. Choosing e.g. 10 winners from a single voting district with a proportional voting system would set the election threshold to 10%, so any party with at least 10% support would get at least one representative. This is how almost every European country runs their elections. (Only UK and France still use single-winner systems.)
This is the only way to bring diversity and options to the political landscape. And by having more than 2 viable parties, you would have more diverse political discussions, too.
And even for the single-winner presidential elections, more than 2 parties would have the existing organization and funding structures to plausible run campaigns and candidates, so as a byproduct you would get diversity and options for the presidential elections, too.
I do recognize that it is problematic to organize proportional voting for (a) the Senate and (b) for those states that have less than 5 House representatives. For example, you'd need to pool Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, N Dakota and S Dakota into one voting district. But even if you went with proportional voting only for the House, you'd still have more than 2 viable parties in each state, who each could make serious attempts to run for the 2 senators. So you would still get more than 2 parties represented in the Senate, too.
Granted, if there are more parties to choose from there's more opportunity for voters to reject dysfunctional parties, but it's not inconceivable that you might end up with, say, five dysfunctional parties instead of two.
I suppose a sensible hybrid system might be to have voters vote for their party in the regular election, and then for each party with one or more seats, that party runs a primary (via a multi-winner variant of approval voting or STV or something) to elect the people who actually serve in those seats. Does anyone already use a system like that?
Two-round elections in which a candidate that doesn't get 50%+1 in the first round must run against the runner-up (and no one else) in the second round is a significant improvement over the single-round First Past The Post structure in the U.S.
No, it's not. It's one of the two systems in the US that are both referred to a FPTP (the two are more specifically known as plurality and majority/runoff, and both forms are widely used in the US.)
Either jungle or runoff system, with FPTP in place, seems to leave a bad taste in people's mouth when they see the top two in the same party. I think it's getting a lot more bad attention because the likely minority party has a good chance of getting the top two spots.
An interesting thought experiment is having 3 equally powered heads of state (or indeed any small odd numbered group).
Most people's instant reaction is that it wouldn't work because we don't have it now.
After some reflection most people think it wouldn't work for other reasons that they can't adequately explain.
I think if you're going to contemplate nation-state wide administration reform it's worthwhile contemplating all kinds of changes.
(I'm in AU, where we have some semblance of 2pp, though in our most recent federal election some 25% of people did not vote for one of the two major parties/coalitions. Our system is clearly broken, but not as badly as the USA's. Small comfort.)
> Most people's instant reaction is that it wouldn't work because we don't have it now.
> After some reflection most people think it wouldn't work for other reasons that they can't adequately explain.
Parent had said that only the presidential elections need to be single-winner.
In Australia the head of government is the Prime Minister - curiously the specifics of that role are absent from our constitution, as it was evidently assumed to be a given. Head of State remains the reigning monarch of the Commonwealth, but that's a slight aside.
Prime Minister is not elected by the gen pop, despite many citizens of AU believing it to be the case. The 150 elected representatives in the parliament actually choose amongst them who the Prime Minister shall be -- a potentially very civilised approach to leadership elections.
Anyway, I'm not sure that I can defend myself against your claims about my personal observations.
Perhaps you could give it a go, and see if you get the same trends of responses that I described.
It sounds to me like you're thinking of the US as more monolithic than it is. If we only had the federal government, sure, only the president would really need to be single-winner. But pooling congressional seats logistically cannot happen, because congress is not parliament. The entire point is that senators represent their states, and House members represent their districts. Pooling them would be like pooling the EU Council and having all Europeans vote together on national ministers.
Remember that states are semi-autonomous, with their own governments following their own laws according to their own constitutions. Obviously our federal government is more powerful and rather more cohesive than the EU, but only up to a point.
(Note: I'm not saying this is a good or sensible system. In many ways, I would love for our resources and our voices to be pooled. The autonomy of individual states is a huge part of why the right wing is disproportionately represented at the federal level. And the fact that only states—not territories—get representation is a travesty.)
You're absolutely right, though, that the single-winner aspect is why we have essentially always had a two-party system (though _which_ two parties has changed several times over the years).
The way I once heard someone put it is that in parliamentary democracy, people vote for representation and their MPs form coalitions, while in the American system, the people themselves have to be the ones to form coalitions, in the form of the two dominant parties.
The US Congress is far too small for the size of the population it represents, so many constituencies are ignored. Having larger voting districts takes power away from gerrymanders and gives it to the constituents. The population would create their own districts via voting blocs, instead of being trapped in gerrymandered districts.
Going back to the original proportions, and having ~35,000 representatives could solve a lot of the money in politics issues.
By comparison, I think most of us have had the experience of being in a conversation with a small group of people (or even one other person) and wanting to say something but not being given an opportunity to do so without seeming rude.
This could have other advantages as well. No reason why any one bill should block any other bill; anything with N/2+1 upvotes is passed by the House. It would also be possible for representatives to remain in their home districts among their constituents.
Don't take the above too seriously, I'm sure there are holes. Just a thought experiment in my brain right now.
If 51% of districts are 51% yellow while 49% are 100% pink, yellow wins.
With a second level, you can run that game twice, and 25% are enough to win.
This is possible if you eliminate congressional districts altogether and have people "subscribe" to a representative. It removes the problem of a single congressman "trying" to represent constituents with widely disparate views equally, and abolishes gerrymandering in the process.
Like YouTube, you would end up with superstar representatives that would capture an even larger share than the most powerful do now. And the fact that they wouldn't even have a home district would mean that they would be accountable to absolutely no-one besides those who helped them achieve their superstar status. So yes, you would have "your rep" but he would be like a small you-tuber compared to PewDiePie—4k subs vs. 100,000,000.
I'm guessing the numbers won't be known until after the voting is done, meaning a lot of effort will be spent finding out where the line is at.
I kinda want to simulate it for a few elections to see what happens, but there isn't any sufficient simulation.
50 states. 300 representatives in each state's assembly, almost all power devolved to those states. 15000 representatives. OK, it's not 35,000, but I doubt that makes much difference.
As much as I like the idea of proportional representation, I don't think getting 35,000 people to agree on anything is a viable solution.
Perhaps a better approach is one that decentralizes power as much as possible, giving more voice to local constituencies versus the Federal government -- and similarly, giving power to continuously smaller communities such as county vs. state, city vs. county and so on and so forth.
An improvement on top of that is having the superior legislature write framework laws that more local communities can elect to follow, should they prefer that over drafting their own legislation, for whatever reason. While this isn't applicable to every legislative issue, the theoretical argument for this approach is quite compelling¹, at least according to one UVA Law professor²
Even if we upped it to 5,000-6,000 reps, it would be a huge improvement.
How? When people complain about money in politics issues these days, they're usually complaining about 3rd party money. I don't see how having 100x more representatives would reduce 3rd party money. It's not like it's hard to target 3rd party ads to small geographic areas.
Candidates are far more concerned about 3rd party money than direct donations these days, because 3rd party spending is unlimited. Quid pro quo is not necessary because it's all done in public. You don't need a secret meeting with a lobbyist to know if the NRA likes your position on guns. Just watch the ads.
Of course not every House member has to worry about this; in fact most don't. Most of the big spending on House races is concentrated in the few districts that everyone expects to shift the balance. This would still be true in a House of 35,000. While most races would probably get less expensive, there would still be a small set of "tipping point" races that would attract most of the effort and money.
Quite a lot of House races are on "auto pilot", politically--that is, there's not much suspense about which party's candidate is likely to win. This is in part because of gerrymandering that produces districts favorable to one party vs another.
Tiny districts would be like gerrymandering on steroids. It wouldn't take much fancy geometry to produce a map in which the vast majority of House races remain easily predictable. And it is the marginal (unpredictable) races that atract the bulk of the big spending.
You could probably get the same result by blocking funding external to the district and killing citizens united. And/or shorten campaigns to 60 days so they just don't cost as much. And/or, provide public funding and election spending caps.
I don't think that trying to scale out of it would be that effective but I see what they are getting at. My guess, is that would raise the inequality of the playing field again as the richest would be able to spin up an organization to manage 10k reps, decide whose relevant who to fund, and so on, people who didn't have lobbyists before won't be able to afford that even if the per rep cost gets cheaper, the total influence cost will rise and price additional people out of the market.
What makes you say that? Hell at 10,000 constituents you borderline don't even need to run ads, just go door to door, personally.
EDIT: Although I suppose the tactic could at that point be turned to buying voters more directly. Spend a ton of money on something that benefits everyone in the district and make it clear that it'll keep coming only if they vote for your candidate, and you might have the same effect.
Wyoming has a total population (census 2010) of about 563,000. And about 98% of those are citizen. WY has 3 electors, so roughly 187,000 citizens per elector.
Citizen in WY have roughly 3x the voting power as citizen in CA, due in large part to a system designed to appease slave-holding states 200 years ago.
1 - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_and_territ...
2 - https://www.kff.org/other/state-indicator/distribution-by-ci...
Which is the point, so as to prevent high population urban centers from dictating everything to the rest of American that doesn't share their values.
>due in large part to a system designed to appease slave-holding states 200 years ago.
I assume you're referring to the 3/5 Compromise here. While true that this was a consideration, the underlying reasoning is still sound. It makes no more sense for San Francisco to rule over Sac City Iowa than Sac City Iowa to rule over San Francisco. That's the beauty of the system the Founders designed. Otherwise you just drift further and further toward Direct Democracy, which is a euphemism for "chaos".
This is intended behavior. IIRC it was to address the question of whether slaves counted as members of the population for the purposes of determining number of congressmen.
if we want to take money out we need to remove the ability of the political parties from spending money on who they chose and require them to fund a set number of candidates equally. Not all candidates as its obvious you can get some kooks, but as it stands now elections are more decided by the party than the voters. the parties decide who gets to run for the seat and it becomes big news when a maverick usually with their own funds upsets this quagmire.
so please by all means try to minimize the money influence elections but understand that most people's views are being heavily manipulated by operatives of both parties to make sure that the only money in politics is money they have full control over.
There are different ways to get representation. One way is to force everyone to vote like Brazil or Australia but this might not be practical in a country like India where elections go on for 1.5 months. But, there are other ways - where you draw a representation of the entire population and make them vote aka Sortition . We already use this concept in juries and other aspects of life. It would be worthwhile to give this a serious try for alternative voting systems.
We could perform alternate experiment systems in parallel and then compare their outcomes to current systems - we don't need to adopt them. But, this has to start somewhere. We could have a debate on "HOW" to draw this representative sample but we should acknowledge that the current system rarely achieves the objective of representation.
That alone would help.
But every change produces winners and losers, and the losers really don’t want that change to happen.
But we can’t automatically register people because young people disproportionately support one of the two major parties, and that would be ‘unfair’.
And we can’t make Election Day a holiday because the people who work so much going voting is a hardship disproportionately support one of the two parties. And it would ‘hurt business’.
On the other end we can’t require IDs to vote people that would disproportionately hur the other party. And we can’t spend the resources to fix that because it would be ‘too expensive’.
early voting? postal ballots?
I'd much prefer a system where you have to "earn" your say in government. This would, I think, show a deeper commitment to the system.
Edit: if you’re downvoting me, irony aside, please detail why making voters more committed to the government they’re informing is a bad idea. Seems fairly reasonable to me.
In the US at least, we already have a representative body laying around with super-majoritarian rules and long, overlapping terms where citizen-legislators could build institutional knowledge. Conveniently it has both the most anti-democratic setup right now and one that's already been subject to revision via constitutional amendment. Selecting Senators at random is the simplest fix with the biggest potential impact on our democracy.
And that's just first-order effects, not counting the potential civil society benefits of encouraging every citizen to think of themselves as a future Senator, or having that structure mirrored in micro in smaller jurisdictions.
Finally, it seems uniquely American to address this problem with money.
If under such a system, the 'voluntary, compensated abstentions' are disproportionately 'poor people', what principle is being violated? Is the option-to-vote or the actuality-of-voting the more important value?
Is maximal voting participation a religious goal, to be pursued even if it delivers poor results, such poor results sometimes including the collapse of democratic-processes entirely? Or is voting just one part of a system to be evaluated based on how well it delivers welfare and protects rights?
I would lean a little bit in the direction of actually voting being more important than being able to vote. Anything less than 100% turnout is bound to have some bias in how the non-voters are selected, even if they're self selected.
In the long run, the rulers of a country don't condescend to pay attention to voters because it's the right thing to do - rather because it prevents chaos, revolutions and guillotines. Voting is fundamentally an accounting mechanism that is justified by its provision of information about what is best for the country.
It's not so rational for people to participate in voting, because (virtually) no election is ever decided by a single vote. Thus, the electorate, as long as voting is voluntary, is going to inherently be biased towards irrational people motivated by emotion. That's why compulsory voting is a good idea. Voting isn't a privilege, it's a form of feedback that is vital to maintaining a healthy state, and having it be voluntary makes no more sense than voluntary taxes.
I'm not saying that's good or bad, but that's what it is.
We could adopt some flavor of split system... FPTP for district reps, with some number of positions set aside state-wide for proportional representation.
I believe Germany does something like this, though I'll have to dig up the details.
Each voter gets two votes, one for a candidate and a second for a party list.
Half of the members of the Bundestag are elected by direct vote. The candidate in the election district that gets the most votes is elected.
The other half are distributed so that the total distribution matches the distribution for the party list. A party that fails to accumulate at least 5% doesn't get any seats from the second vote, but gets to keep any direct seats they gained, unless they win a minimum number of direct candidates.
If a party wins more direct candidates in a state than their share of votes per party list would allow for, the Bundestag grows and more seats are distributed to balance the proportion.
The system is designed to allow for direct candidates, but still keeps smaller parties relevant since any party that gets beyond 5% or manages to win direct candidates is part of the Bundestag.
(grossly simplified, but probably good enough for here)
For years Unification Church tried to get representation in South Korean congress. They failed, but votes show that they would have succeeded under proportional representation. Proportional representation enables extremist parties.
Continental Europe (the UK uses FPTP) is characterised by countries that have governments that are frequently deadlocked or missing in action, because proportional representation results in lots of parties getting into power with none having a majority. Therefore they spend lots of time building coalitions that can agree on very little except preserving the status quo.
These coalitions often result in absurd political configurations, like alliances between parties that are supposedly of the left and right, resulting in an inability to create policy. You also see bizarre compromises that can cause extreme or weird policies to appear that hardly anyone would have voted for, due to the need to bring on board smaller parties to make the coalitions work.
A few examples: in the Netherlands, the ruling coalition has a working majority of 1. It contains many tiny parties and took months to create, because they were determined to ensure that the politician who runs the second largest party in Parliament (Geert Wilders, who is anti-EU) would be entirely frozen out of power.
Germany is ruled by a coalition of two parties that both lost votes in the last election, and whose leaders hate each other. They both believe repeating the same coalition again will severely damage both parties, as it's a coalition of both the left and right meaning ... again ... essentially the coalition has no coherent policies that anyone campaigned on. However they did it anyway to freeze out the second largest party, AfD, again because AfD is anti-EU and that is seen as so bad almost anything is worth it to avoid having to compromise with them. Before the current coalition formed, Merkel tried to create the "Jamaica coalition" ... a truly laughable attempt to break the basic laws of politics by uniting the far left Green party with a libertarian party. Not surprisingly the quasi-communists and Ayn Randians couldn't agree on anything and that attempt failed, but it goes to show how strange proportional representation can get.
Italy has just voted in a coalition of two parties, again, a left and right wing party who have, as a result, economically incoherent policies. The "right wing" party wants devolution of power within Italy and more regional self rule, the 5-Star movement wants the opposite, with more subsidies for southern Italy.
Basically PR gives you messy governments that frequently collapse or deadlock. This may or may not be a better arrangement than FPTP which tends to yield strong governments with clear policies, which frequently see-saw between polar opposites as left and right parties take turns in power.
That's exactly what I see in the US right now. The country has no ability to address issues anymore, be it health care, immigration, infrastructure, housing or education. there is a lot of hot air and screaming and yelling but they can't find compromises and act on them anymore. See Obamacare. Instead of working together and accommodate each others wishes first one party went into full strike and now it has been effectively abandoned at the detriment of most (non-rich) citizens.
But what if the parties didn't have to form a coalition? What if they, as individual legislators, just voted on bills? Then you'd have to write a bill that could peel away some votes from some members of some parties other than your own. For a bill to pass, it would have to be a good enough bill that you could sell it to people outside your party. That's not such a bad thing...
Unless all the parties maintain strict party discipline. I think that increasing party discipline is one of the problems that is making Congress so dysfunctional. But hopefully, if you had more than two parties in Congress, not all of them would have strict party discipline.
Those characterizations have very little to do with the actual positions of those parties, so it's no wonder it seems comical to you.
That's a bit of a misinterpretation. One of the leading figures in the FDP party broke up the jamaica band when everyone was about to get together and form the coalition. (Naturally his party was pissed about this but because he won an election for them they just rolled over and went with that).
While the german government can sort of deadlock it's not a situation like in the US where everything shuts down. The government continues to function, although with minimized power, until the new parliament is formed. They can't put out any major new laws but they're not completely dead-in-the-water.
>Germany is ruled by a coalition of two parties that both lost votes in the last election, and whose leaders hate each other.
It's more complicated than that. The SPD-CDU/CSU coalition (which is three party not two depending on how you look at it) is getting a reputation with the voters, under this coalition Merkel has been chancellor for a long time now. They two sides (other than CDU/SPD resenting the CSU for sitting in the backseat of federal politics and screaming incoherent right-wing garbage (I'm bavarian, I know what I'm talking about here)) don't hate eachother but to my knowledge it's a mutual understanding that they cannot continue this coalition any further.
>because proportional representation results in lots of parties getting into power with none having a majority.
Note that Germany has a 5% clause for this; you need 5% of the votes to get into parliament, otherwise you have no say.
This is mainly a result of the previous government turning into the third reich after several parties deadlocked the parliament for real.
It'd have been better to say the second largest power bloc.
Having to choose amongst one candidate only is terribly bad because some candidates may have lot of similar ideas. However they may diverge on some points, such as they decide to make two parties.
The votes get then divided between these two candidates, and they may not reach the second round, even though their idea may be more popular...
The winning parties has never wanted to change the system since that makes them win I guess.
Any other system would be a better idea than that one.
I think what also makes things strange in France is the rule that all parties must be given equal airtime, which leads to a few bizarre weeks every election cycle where complete loons are on TV and Radio 24/7
Then you have exceptional circumstances with many disgruntled people pushing for the extreme. Even then, two rounds can help. A one round system makes it very hard for the fringe to take control, but once this happen they're one of two. With a two round system only one side can go radical, with a likely result of the other side mainstream party winning.
Both sides extremes getting stronger is possible, and it's really what happened during the last presidential elections. But we got lucky and one "center" candidate went through (by a very small margin), and as expected won the second round. But as in other places we had about half people disgruntled, it's just that it was evenly split between left and right extreme parties, and only one went to second round (but the other was pretty close).
Voters now want to send people to Congress who will carry out a specific agenda. But the idea of a representative is that you were sending someone with (more or less) your general views, and they would use their own judgment.
This whole "pre-negotiation and coalitions before questions are put to the voters" might be more the problem than the solution.
"Obviously?" Perhaps they have considered it properly and have reasonably concluded both systems are utterly failed in terms of representing the views of the electorate. As an outsider looking in US politics appears equally broken, just sometimes in different ways.
So now let me stay on ground I am more sure of, the UK. It's one of the least representative "democracies" around.
For most of the electorate it simply doesn't matter who they vote for, it's pointless. Most seats are "safe". Where I currently live, if you have anything but Brexit-Tory views don't bother as the seat hasn't changed hands in years. So consider yourself entirely disenfranchised. We get especially poor candidates as a result - from both parties. A cardboard cutout would probably get elected if wearing a blue rosette.
If you have Tory views, and live in one of those nice £1m+ warehouse flat conversions you are probably now in a permanently safe Labour inner-city seat, and are equally disenfranchised. cardboard equally electable, just give it a red rosette.
The percentage in a given constituency who get the government they voted for is often quite shocking. CGP Grey did a video on this if I recall correctly.
What does that do to politics? Well, it's total war, total victory and total annihilation only. Parties only treat the electorate as even vaguely interesting in the 10% of seats that might change hands.
No one negotiates. Beforehand or otherwise, unless every other avenue to grab power has failed. System working as intended then as it tends to reinforce the two party status quo.
"Woo, we got elected, just." Now it's simple. Every policy of the previous government was crap. Even the really good ones that were proven to be working. No matter, we didn't think them up, so get rid of the policy with extreme prejudice. We'll rename the same policy when writing our next manifesto so that we can imply we did invent it next time.
> namely it forces pre-negotiation and coalitions before questions are put to the voters.
When did the US last have a coalition, or even pre-negotiation?
In the UK we had one, successfully, during WW2. Since then there has been one, but a selection of minority governments. The recent coalition is widely considered to have been a failure. Essentially we got Tory govt, with a few rough edges knocked off. Tories got a convenient kicking partner.
> the electorate can make a reasonably informed decision about whether A or B is better.
Gosh that's a positive view of how it works. In our media-first, FPTP, system it is much more about the media friendly face, nice smile, soundbites and dog whistles. Interviews become an excruciating exercise of answering the question you'd like to have been asked like it's a Monty Python sketch.
May gave us a comical example of doing soundbites and interviews wrong with the "strong and stable government" line that everyone, including the media, were sick of on the very first day of campaign. After a term or two "it's about time we gave the other guys a chance" and "I'm sick of these idiots" becomes a significant influence.
In short I am firmly in favour of electoral reform and adoption of PR (and not the second-class incarnation of it we were given a referendum about during the coalition). I'd quite like to figure out a way to weaken party politics too, but I digress. In my twenties I was quite in favour for FPTP as I felt it enabled more to be done. Nowadays I'd like a lot less done and a system that a) encourages consensus day to day and b) provides a parliament representative of the far wider range of views commonly held than two diametrically opposed parties. This became far, far too long so I'll spare you the deeper reasoning in favour of PR. :)
My own politics is a coalition - I like some parts of Tory, Labour, Green and LibDem. Even during my most focused support of one party I found some of their policies were utterly bonkers. I think that's the case with most aside from the tiny, tiny minority who actually join parties.
This happens nowadays anyway.
It sounds like I'm advocating corruption, and I kind of am. But at the same time, earmarks served the purpose of providing a good reason for parties to work together, across the aisle. If a little bit of corruption accomplishes that higher purpose, I'm glad to have it.
An earmark is only corrupt if it is bought--that is, if a citizen or company bribes the member of Congress to steer an earmark to them.
When earmarks were killed, there was actually little evidence that was happening. Earmarks were killed as a talking point about reducing spending. Which is silly, because earmarks allocated funds, they didn't appropriate them. That is, they typically divvied up the pot, not increased its size.
It's sort of like the debt limit. Politicians lie to people about things work, in order to attract votes. I don't know if that's corruption so much as cynical opportunism.
Only in theory. In practice, they are 1:1 - You initiate pork A here, I help you add pork B there. You own pork B company, I own pork A. We both win money, forget the constituents.
How about less gerrymandering? It results in more extreme candidates on both sides (as you get much more "pure" blue/red districts and fewer purple).
To wit, Merrick Garland would like a word.
As an aside, I happen to think that there is an important difference between "bipartisan" and "deal-making," and the latter is really where it's at in governance. Earmarks are tools for deal-making.
Framing things as "both sides" inappropriately elevates the 2 major political parties as a central feature of our system of government. They're not; in fact the largest political affiliation in the U.S. today is "indepdendent"!
And on any serious legislation, there are typically more than two "sides" with an interest in a particular outcome. That's why making deals is so important.
e.g. "The Framers worried about demagogic excess and populist caprice, so they created buffers and gatekeepers between voters and the government. Only one chamber, the House of Representatives, would be directly elected. A radical who wanted to get into the Senate would need to get past the state legislature, which selected senators; a usurper who wanted to seize the presidency would need to get past the Electoral College, a convocation of elders who chose the president; and so on."
If I can track down any of the book titles I'll follow up.
The founding fathers were smart, but nobody in the 18th century was smart enough to anticipate the requirements of a modern electoral system. Their real mistake though was making the electoral system both incredibly complicated and very hard to change.
Proportional representation should be the minimum requirement. Adding additional voting system goodness on top of it is great.
Closer to home, it's also used by the Apache Software Foundation for the annual election of the Board of Directors.
When the election is only for a single position, this is exactly equivalent to "instant runoff".
For the House of Representatives, each electorate is much smaller and parties only have one candidate each, so you only have five or six choices, and you preference all of them.
It's okay IMO but could be improved somewhat.
The Open List system used in most of Europe (with France, parts of Germany, and Spanish congress being notable exceptions) seems like a very good, successful one also.
UK is still first past the post for MPs. Australia seems to be different again but not first past the post.
When there are is only one winner and STV is exactly the same as instant runoff, it is not so difficult to understand.
This surprised me but you're right. NI have(/had?) STV, but not Westminster. Very odd.
> Australia seems to be different again
This was my question really. Australia uses IRV, afaik, which is somewhat equivalent to STV except that it's slightly simpler, though I don't see any major disadvantage to the extra complexities in STV.
Woke: 13th century voting systems http://www.hpl.hp.com/techreports/2007/HPL-2007-28R1.pdf