Back to: Car boot sale | Forward to: Two months on

Remember to vote

In case you're unsure why AV is a better electoral system than FPTP ...

Oh, and when evaluating Conservative propaganda against AV, remember, AV is the system the Conservative party uses internally to elect leaders. If it's good enough for them, why is it no good for us?

87 Comments

1:

I am not sure this works when you take away the 'of course we want beer' factor. Say the Coffee is labour, Queens is Tory, Green is Green, Castle is Nazi, and Red Lion Communist. The Green is eliminated and his vote goes to the Communist. The Tory and Nazi's are on 2 each, Labour and Commies on 3. The Tory second perfs are all Nazi and vice versa, so the final count could elect either the Tory or Nazi on 4 - is this right?

2:

The Tory Party doesn't use AV, actually. If there's no overall majority they have an entirely fresh ballot, which is rather a different thing.

3:

@John: No. Assume the Tories are eliminated, you've got the Nazis on 4, and Labour and Comm both on 3. No majority for the Nazis, and either Labour or the Communists get eliminated, giving their votes to the other one, who then win 6-4.

4:

The No campaign is spouting wilfully ignorant complaints that under AV, losers win. Under either system if any candidate gets a majority of votes, they win. The argument is about what to do if that doesn't happen. FPTP gives it to the candidate who came closest to winning. AV picks a candidate that a majority of voters want.

AV doesn't always pick the Condorcet winner (candidate who would win all possible pair-wise runoffs against other candidates), but instead requires the winner to have both strong first-preference support and broad acceptance, so calling it a defect is arguable.

5:

Have you seen this nice A-to-Z of rubbish arguments from the No side:
http://paperbackrioter.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/an-a-z-of-rubbish-arguments-from-no2av/

6:

The Tories don't use AV in the same way proposed for our electoral system, but they do use a method that is very similar.

If more than two candidates stand, then MPs first hold a series of ballots to reduce the number to two. On each round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. In effect, the members that voted for the eliminated candidate will then vote for their 2nd preference in the next round.

7:

Looks like this is going to be lost unfortunatly;

AV is better than fptp as it eliminates tactical voting but looses on concordent winner

Best system (for single member constituancy) would be approval voting (ie vote on one ballot for all you could bear being represented by but no ranking required and all votes counted in first round , winner has the most votes) but fails the "one man one vote" slogan .

8:

That's 7 votes for a pub crawl, and 3 for a coffee bar; let's go down the pub!!

#5 - I've made up my mind to vote for AV, because of the mixture of spin and outright lies that the "No to AV2 campaign sent me.

9:

Duncan: that differs quite a lot from AV, though, because you can change your second preference tactically after knowing the level of support for each candidate. One of the points against AV is that (unlike really proportionate systems) those who support candidates eliminated early get several of their preferences, whilst those who support the candidate who ends up second have none of theirs considered.

10:

Equally, after candidate3 is eliminated, and c2 proves more popular than expected, c5 can withdraw, and endorse c1 in the expectation that c5's supporters will now mostly vote for c1.

11:

It's best to think of AV vs. FPTP and PR vs. equipotent single member geographic constituencies as being questions on different axes.

And remember, 'The present measure would block the way for a far more sweeping reform' is a classic argument of obstruction. (See part VIII of http://www.cs.kent.ac.uk/people/staff/iau/cornford/cornford.html )

12:

While AV doesn't always pick the Condorcet winner, it does so far more often than FPTP. And AV *never* picks the Condorcet loser, which FPTP does all too often.

13:

Whether I'm for AV or against it, I'm afraid that's a completely false analogy.

It presents all the options other than coffee as identical, whereas in fact there are five different options.

Presenting this example as 3 votes for coffee and 7 votes for NOT-coffee is misleading, as one might as well present it as 2 votes for the Red Lion and 8 votes for NOT-Red Lion.

14:

"And remember, 'The present measure would block the way for a far more sweeping reform' is a classic argument of obstruction."

You can be damned sure that those in favour of the status quo (i.e. FPtP) will be portraying a "No" result as a rejection of electoral reform in principal (or will at least result in it being kicked firmly into the long grass).

Talk about wanting it both ways...

15:

The poster is a summary of a video, where the "pub" people get overridden (under FPTP) by a small group of united "coffee shop" people; they then show the same scene with AV and the pub people all prefer any one of the pubs to the coffee shop.

But you can firmly see the same effect in real elections where there are several left-wing parties and a single right-wing one or vice versa.

16:

No it isn't. It's neither a completely false nor completely true analogy. What it does do is very neatly present the 'split vote' problem of FPTP.

Mentally mapping beer and coffee onto UK political parties is silly, as the current party spectrum is already distorted by pressure from the split vote problem.

The No camp's only real objection is that they don't like who people would vote for under AV. The rest of the arguments are just tactics to exploit the stupidity of the media and the public. A tactic that is working depressingly well.

17:

(sorry. 16 was a reply to 13)

18:

Frankly the first thing we need is a "None of the Above" option. eg None of the candidates is suitable to be selected. If that won then all of the candidates would be barred from standing again that year and a new contest run, with new candidates.

Most of the problem stems from the low and unresponsive nature of most candidates. We shouldn't have to pick the least worst.

19:

Actually I think it's a very good analogy. The pubs are all more similar options then the coffee shop, which splits the vote.

It's what often happens in FPTP where you have, say, two left wing candidates and one right wing candidate splitting the left vote. Even though more votes go to the similar candidates, the candidate with the most votes is the right wing one, which most voters really don't want. (you can swap left and right if you prefer.)

20:

I fondly remember RON from the ballot papers of the AV student union elections i voted in years ago. (RON = re-open nominations)

21:

All political matter aside, shouldn't the image have some kind of attribution?

(Maybe I missed it.)

22:

i don't know about attribution, but it seems to have a website: www.letsavabeer.com

23:

Even better -- the result of tactical FPTP voting would be that 4 voted for the crappy pub, three refused to vote for it, and three voted for the coffee shop -- or 3 for the crappy pub and four for coffee.

End result is a lot of people get tired of hanging with this group and stop voting.

So, now, you go to the pub that only one or two people like -- because they think alcopops and ice cold lager are the High Life -- the beer drinkers have crap and the coffee drinkers have crap -- except when Joe Smith is tired of the crap and votes coffee, now the three coffee drinkers are happy, etc.

Basically, in FPTP, the poor sod voting for The Green Man is voting for coffee -- there's no chance in hell that TGM will win, so voting for it is implicitly supporting the plurality holder.

Maybe the CAMRA award winning pub isn't going to win, but I'm tired of voting for the alchopop joints to avoid coffee -- and I'm tired of watching one party chasing imaginary centrist voters, but I don't dare vote against them because my other choice is fucking insane.

24:

It's what often happens in FPTP where you have, say, two left wing candidates and one right wing candidate splitting the left vote. Even though more votes go to the similar candidates, the candidate with the most votes is the right wing one, which most voters really don't want.

You just described the Tories' win with 38% of the vote in Canada, versus 60% for the centreleft and left parties.

Go on, Brits, give preferencing a go. You don't see us Aussies complaining (never mind the Newscorp lies you might have read to the contrary).

25:

This example very nicely shows why, when picking a party and policy platform FPTP is good, and AV bad.

If you are picking an individual, like a president or a mayor, AV makes sense: people can't split or merge.

But parties can, and should.

In this case, the pub-goers would talk amongst themselves, pick the best pub, and put only that option forward. If people vote to go to the pub, that's what happens. If someone else wants to reframe the debate as 'nice place with wood panels versus smoky dive', then if most people want that, that's also what they would get instead.

That's all bad for tribalists who care primarily about party identity, politics-as-a-sport, or voting as a means of self expression. But it's good for those who want some information content available to them before they decide who to vote for.

Otherwise you end up with things like voting Lib Dem to get rid of tuition fees...

26:

Why don't you simplify -- if you like the status quo, you vote for fptp. If you've felt disenfranchised and apathetic, abused and used, then vote against fptp.

The details are actually quite secondary to the generic approve/disapprove of the current system of leadership, the current leadership class. The practical results won't be known until you actually try -- so the question is whether searching a new space is worth the risk.

27:

I think all political campaigning should only be able to use mime artists.
Hmmm, that would improve PM's Question Time as well.

28:

people can't split or merge. But parties can, and should.

Parties won't because they've seen what happens to the splitters. The SDs did relatively well in their first (general) election, miserably in their second and didn't last long enough for a third. With that as a precedent people are far more likely to remain within a party and try to change its policies than they are to split from it. That might be less likely under AV.

29:

But parties can, and should.

Yeah but they never do. They just move ever rightward to placate corporate media, lobbyists etc while expecting leftists to vote for them because voting for an emerging left party would objectively help the Tories. (In theory it can work the other way, but in practise it never does because of the underlying plutocratic nature of our sociopolitical systems.)

And, incidentally, individuals standing as candidates in region-based constituencies can't "split or merge".

30:

In this case, the pub-goers would talk amongst themselves, pick the best pub, and put only that option forward.

That's where the analogy breaks down; parties don't negotiate and merge terribly often. The only case of this happening in the UK in my living memory was the Liberal/SDP merger circa 1992.

What actually happens under FPTP is that information about secondary preferences is lost, so if we have (say) four centre-to-left parties and one right-wing party, most people may prefer some flavour of centre-to-left, but the single right-wing party picks up most votes and wins. (Or vice versa, if you have multiple right-wing parties.)

We've just seen this in Canada under FPTP, where the centre-to-left vote fragmented among three parties (BC, Liberals, and NDP) and the Conservatives got a majority of seats on around 40% of the vote.

We had this throughout the 1980s and early 1990s in the UK, when the centre-to-left ballots of around 55-60% of the electorate who bothered voting fragmented between Labour, Liberals and SDP (and then between Labour and Liberal Democrats), while the Tories created "majority" governments on around 40% of the votes.

If you were right, Labour and the LibDems would have merged some time in the early 90s. Alas, FPTP doesn't work that way -- there are external differentiating effects imposed by the different tiers of government. For example, the LibDems were (until relatively recently) way behind in numbers of MPs, but in local councils in England they punched well above their parliamentary weight, often being the #2 party in local government rather than a distant #3.

31:

R Lloyd: It doesn't eliminate tactical voting, though I think it reduces it.

Here's a fairly contrived situation that i think works: Imagine a case of lib dem coming third and being eliminated, with their votes transferring to labour and conservative, one of which will then win. If you prefer labour, then lib dem, then conservative, but think that lib dem will be eliminated in the first round and also think that then the conservatives will win over labour in the second round, it might be in your interest to vote for lib dem first to attempt to prevent them being eliminated, hoping that either then the conservatives will be eliminated, or if labour are eliminated then enough of their votes will transfer to lib dem for lib dem to win. In any case, if lib dem are still eliminated, your second preference will go to labour anyway. So that's a vote you cast that was not in accordance with your sincere preferences. Hence tactical voting.

32:

And, of course, with the Conservative finally getting a majority over here, there goes any chance whatsoever of AV or some equivalent getting a look in here. Propertional representaion in Canada would be the death knell of the right wing and there's no way Harper is ever going to give up his last chance at power.

33:

There's actually been some pretty dubious campaigning from both sides. I've had "Yes" leaflets telling me that if I vote "Yes" it will end the MP's expenses boondoggle, and be an end to MP's jobs for life, and I've seen people from the "No" camp saying voting for AV will let in BNP, amongst other things.
What does seem to be interesting is the AV camp saying "Vote For AV will be good because ..." and the FPTP camp saying "Vote For AV will be _bad_ because ...".
There doesn't seem to be much (if any!) "Vote For FPTP will be good because ..." campaigning!

I'm for it, FWIW ...

34:

Anyone worried that AV doesn't always pick the Condorcet winner should find this comment reassuring:
http://gowers.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/is-av-better-than-fptp/#comment-11020

35:

Sorry, but lets not vote for AV.
Why? a) because anything the Labour party supports cant be good for the country and b) its not what the lib dems want, its the best they could do, personally I think they should have held out and not compromised on this, but then it was neither a case of touching the left.... (for those that remember spitting image)

So I think voting for change for change sake is kinda a bit, well pointless. It means in there is even less chance of getting a fair representative voting system in the future.

36:

Speaking of mergers, it's worth noting that the current unified right wing of Canadian politics came from a merger of the Progressive-Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance in 2003.

37:

It's not a vote for change for change's sake; it's a vote for a change to a less unfair and unrepresentative system. More to the point, you'll note that the NO campaign has heavy funding (and backing) from Conservative party donors. There's a reason the tories want to stick with FPTP -- and to hack away at the existing constituency boundaries. I smell gerrymandering in the air, and the NO campaign is part of it.

38:

I had already decided to vote in favour of AV, but the actions of the No campaign have really convinced me it's the right choice. I don't think I've seen a more intellectually dishonest election campaign in this country before.

The thing that really got my goat was the claim that fringe parties "like the BNP" would get in more often - there's a number of fringe parties who are well worth voting for, but they have to claim that the BNP are representative of these parties! As far as I can see AV means the likes of the BNP are less likely to get in because the overwhelming majority of people are not going to choose the BNP as any of their choices, so the non-extremist vote isn't going to be split between several parties in quite the same way.

39:

I started out determined to vote "no" simply because I detest Nick Clegg and want him to have a drubbing. (I could go off on a rant about why this is, but let's stay civilized and on topic.) However I've changed my mind about the referendum for two reasons: the sheer irrelevance, lies and scaremongering of the "no" campaign, and the personalities associated with that campaign. (GLT@35 - "Labour" doesn't support AV. Labour is split, but look at which bits of Labour support each side. And if there's a "no" vote tomorrow, nothing better will come along, this will be dead for a generation.)

40:

Real give-away in today's "Evening Standard" (London evenuing paper) ...
Article by BoJo (Tory mayor of London) saying how awful AV his ... but HE WAS HIMSELF ELECTED ON AN AV VOTE.

Oops

41:

Really? They use AV for the mayorship of a world class city?
Next on my list is ron or none of the above, to be added to every ballot. That way we get a decent count of disgruntlement, although voting monster raving loony party might still work.

42:

i was confused until i saw this..

with any and all apologies offered in advance to OGH.

(Warning: may contain cats)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiHuiDD_oTk

43:

There is no doubt that AV has issues, all voting systems must have them, as Arrow's impossibility theorem proves.

That doesn't mean AV doesn't beat the pants off of FPTP though.

44:

This yank looked this up on Google. Doing what people want is not at the top of the list it looks like. Holding on to power is. Oh well, over here it's all for sale now. Not long after the war of 1812 a American on a English ship made a toast. This is not it but it's the idea. Democracy is like a raft. It will not sink but your feet are always wet.

45:

Alas, the Monster Raving Loony Party did not have a candidate in my bit of Scotland and if they did, it would have been on the regional list, along with the small party of which I am a member.

46:
The Tories don't use AV in the same way proposed for our electoral system, but they do use a method that is very similar.

If more than two candidates stand, then MPs first hold a series of ballots [snip]...

This is why in the U.S promoters of AV systems are calling them "Instant Runoff" because they are effectively a series of ballots combined into one and the name makes it easy to comprehend the purpose.

Instant run-off = "If my choice is for the least successful and then eliminated candidate, use my subsequent choice in the runoff. Repeat until someone has a majority."

47:

I was very disappointed with our election results here. We get to have a right-wing ideologue as our dictator for the next four years. Grr! Why can't we get AV here in Canada?

A minor nit to pick: the BQ [Bloc Quebecois] party ran on a generically left-wing platform, but with 'we want eventual secession from Canada' as one of their platforms. The NDP are also generically left-wing and they took almost all of the formerly BQ ridings in Quebec. BC is our wonderful westernmost province.

48:

The polls show AV going down in flames.
Why?
Has this turned into a proxy vote on the coalition, especially on the actions of the Lib-Dems since the election? Even worse for AV, is the No vote a combination of Tories actually voting No on AV plus a lot of non-Tories voting No on austerity or the coalition or the Lib-Dems in particular?
Just speculating from the outside

49:

The more things change, the more they will stay the same.

50:

Ref #41 and #45 - There were something like 12 candidates on my regional list. Of those, only the 4 most obvious ones, the Greens and "No to Bankers' Bonuses" actually bothered to tell me in advance that they were standing. I have no idea what the names, never mind the platforms, of some of the other 6 were.

51:

And instant runoff is superior to actually holding multiple polls because it makes the pushover tactical voting strategy much harder to use.

The disadvantage is the elimination sequence can depend sensitively on 'small' details of the vote pattern and change who wins, making the result seem a bit random. In a true runoff the candidates and voters have more control over the elimination sequence, and the system avoids capturing some of the preference information that would show another result was close.

When electing a parliament, a bit of randomness can be a good thing. If all constituencies had the same spread of views, the same party would win everywhere and parliament would be totally non-proportional. Variation between constituencies is needed for a spread of views to make in into parliament, and i think even a bit of randomness can help with this.

52:

Based on Duverger's law, first past the post voting systems will devolve into a 2 party political system - that's where the stable attractors are.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duverger%27s_law

The Tories would be interested in promoting such a system because that would effectively eliminate all those pesky little parties that they have to suck up to during coalitions. And they could get their wish of turning into America.

53:

'That's where the analogy breaks down; parties don't negotiate and merge terribly often.'

Yes, technically this is true. There is almost always a hard core of voters whose identity, jobs or social lives depend on any given party. The bar staff of the Green Man would never vote for anywhere else.

David Owen's personal party is still going I think, as are the unmerged Liberals. Not sure about the Whigs...

Past a point, they become irrelevant though, lost in the noise of other minor parties. You'll get a lot of them commenting online in places like this, but a proper count would rank them down with the libertarians and anarchists.

The last 30 years of UK politics is the story of the Gang of Four's split from the Labour party, and it's consequences. Maybe that story is about to come to an end.

54:

Australians watch on bemusedly, vaguely curious of the outcome. They warn you, though, to tread with cares full; it is a slope most slippery upon which you walk, for we have conspired with devils two, compulsory voting and compulsory tax returns.

55:

I thought the Tory party chose their leader via evil prophesy/ eldrich ceremony?
anything that gets those bog-robbers out gets my vote

56:

I've seen this argumetn used a number of times but I can't find any reasoning behind it. AV certainly isn't perfect. It's not even good. But it seems marginly better than FPTP. Voting against AV is endorsing FPTP. It will be read by anyone with a hand in the matter, as an implicit acceptance of the status quo. This is clear just listening to leading No campaigners. David Cameron etc.

If you want PR or indeed wider general reform, don't vote against AV thinking it will make it any likelier. A vote in favour of AV doesn't proclude legitimate calls for wider reform either. Take the AV vs FPTP issue on it's merits or lack there of.

Myself, voting shortly, in favour FWIW.

57:

Do any of you forward-thinking people really think democracy has a future? Contemplate what technocracy and the intelligence multiplier of increasingly omnipotent machine-man networks means for the future of political power. Look at what Wikileaks, a relatively benevolent organization, was able to accomplish.

The masses of humanity are simply becoming irrelevant; the cabals who create and control the machines will be able manage society without them, and democracy will become a charade. The wildest dreams of the Soviets will be exceeded, with a super-intelligent machine playing the role of cyber-Stalin. Political systems rooted in 17th century pre-cybernetic milieus are increasingly dysfunctional and on their way out. The future is a chaos of competing corporations and networks all vying for the one ring of power that is machine super-intelligence.

Vote in an election? Don't be silly you peasant, elections are a charade!

58:

Do any of you forward-thinking people really think democracy has a future? Contemplate what technocracy and the intelligence multiplier of increasingly omnipotent machine-man networks means for the future of political power. Look at what Wikileaks, a relatively benevolent organization, was able to accomplish.

The masses of humanity are simply becoming irrelevant; the cabals who create and control the machines will be able manage society without them, and democracy will become a charade. The wildest dreams of the Soviets will be exceeded, with a super-intelligent machine playing the role of cyber-Stalin. Political systems rooted in 17th century pre-cybernetic milieus are increasingly dysfunctional and on their way out. The future is a chaos of competing corporations and networks all vying for the one ring of power that is machine super-intelligence.

Vote in an election? Don't be silly you peasant, elections are a charade!

59:

Do any of you forward-thinking people really think democracy has a future? Contemplate what technocracy and the intelligence multiplier of increasingly omnipotent machine-man networks means for the future of political power.

Technocracy, like the other great Futurist ideologies -- Fascism and Communism -- is the future of the 1930s, and always will be. It ain't gonna fly (at least not this century) because it has the besetting problem of the other absolutist doctrines: it requires its believers to approximate human beings to perfectly spherical entities of uniform density, and encourages them to chop off the irritating lumps and projections which invalidate its over-simplistic model. (Eventually human beings react negatively to having bits chopped off them, and rebel.)

60:

Just got back from being a silly peasant in today's charade.

Normally I'd do the deed on my way into work but the complexities of life (not very long but dull story) rendered that option impractical.

As I expected things were pretty quiet at my polling station; not having any other elections (I'm in London) means turnout in the capital will probably be lower even than a normal non-GE poll. That's a downer for me as a Yes-man, since the polling evidence suggests Londoners would be a pretty good bank of Yes votes.

Oh well, civic duty done. Now I can sit back and let the LibDem meltdown deliver a straight up two-horse race next time.

Regards
Luke

61:

>Look at what Wikileaks, a relatively benevolent organization, was able to accomplish.

If Wikileaks was the cause, is the current unrest in every Middle Eastern nation the effect? Less benevolent than they would appear...

Other than that, they also released documents on what politician's thought about each other, which was hardly surprising. If I went around telling everyone what I thought of politicians, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this.

Democracy dead? On our side of the pond, the United States got Obama, and the Canadians just went conservative... I'd say it's still alive and kicking, regardless of our respective media's attempting to tell us otherwise..

One final note: Now that Osama is dead, can I stop taking my shoes off at the airport?

62:

I really hope that, whichever option you support, you took the trouble to vote.

63:

I was 100 miles away from home by the time the polls opened but I got back in time and did the deed tonight.

For anyone who needs to justify a yes vote news that Nick Griffin voted no and is campaigning against AV ought to do the trick.

64:

I now have a headache and am going to bed.

65:

Pfft. A MMP system would give you seven beers and three coffees, divied up by whoever reached for them first.

66:
Do any of you forward-thinking people really think democracy has a future? Contemplate what technocracy and the intelligence multiplier of increasingly omnipotent machine-man networks means for the future of political power.
Technocracy, like the other great Futurist ideologies -- Fascism and Communism -- is the future of the 1930s, and always will be. It ain't gonna fly (at least not this century) because it has the besetting problem of the other absolutist doctrines: it requires its believers to approximate human beings to perfectly spherical entities of uniform density, and encourages them to chop off the irritating lumps and projections which invalidate its over-simplistic model.

I obviously don't know my history of political ideologies as well as I should; could you explain that last bit? At rock-bottom, I've always been a capitalist because I believe all that stuff they teach about price-signalling (and why when people call - accuse is more like it - me of being a "liberal" it's just so much silliness). That is, Capitalism as it is theoretically practiced does a better job of optimizing for individual preferences and takes the economy as a whole closer to the production frontier than does any other sort of economic organization.

But I had thought that technocrats didn't believe this and that some sort of central planning was necessary. Which is also what I believe; I contain multitudes :-) So what am I missing? Was it some sort of weird stuck-on bit, say eugenics or some other fallacious fad?

67:

The concept of technocracy in the 30ies was that of a societal caste of "social engineers" (and tightly controlled true believers) ruling the rest of the population.
That is partially rooted in the realities of that time: the uneven knowledge distribution. Engineers were a specialised and valuable elite, low in numbers, quite simply because there was a hell of a lot of other jobs to be done.

A self-organised technocracy with an inherently even, but heavily specialised knowledge distribution might be tried in the future. It would resemble academia a little bit, where people are analytic and critical in their respective fields, but on foreign turf they simply tend to trust the expertise of the respective specialists.

I could see that as sustainable for a certain time in certain circumstances. But that is all.

I do not believe there is a form of society that is in itself an Evolutionary Stable Strategy (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_Stable_Strategy). It all depends on outwards circumstances and the social order also influences these.

For example you can argue, that the core values of communism lead to a wide spread of at least basic knowledge (public schooling), but when knowledge distribution becomes too even, the public will become more and more critical of the ruling experts - leading ultimately to revolution. That would make the whole idea inherently self-defeating.

If someone argues, that democracy will lead to societies ungovernable with a democratic system, I'm open to that. But that doesn't make a potential successor a "better" or "more powerful" form of government - not independent of circumstances.

A new reality will mean a new set of critical constraints.

What you envision might be temporarily stable with a weak artificial intelligence in a temporary very, very specific set of circumstances, but once you have an evolving general AI, the phase of evolution we've been knowing so far is over anyway. Welcome to the dustbin of history, join the dinosaurs...

@scentofviolets:
Markets break down under certain circumstances. Best description is Akerlof/Stiglitz on information asymmetries.
The fact that they worked wonders in the past is no guarantee for the future.

68:

The discrepancy between this map: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/av-referendum/8495493/AV-Referendum-results-map.html

and the fact that 32% voted Yes beautifully illustrates the technical case for proportional representation.

69:

So what am I missing? Was it some sort of weird stuck-on bit, say eugenics or some other fallacious fad?

Just the same old authoritarian shit: the idea that there's an ideology that delivers all the answers if only those pesky humans will live their lives in accordance with its demands. Humans who don't see this for the self-evident fact that it is are therefore malfunctioning and need to be whipped into compliance.

See also: communism, nazism, etcetera. Technocracy was just another top-down managerialist doctrine, this time with rule by engineers rather than by the vanguard party or the brownshirts.

70:

I don't think mr greek letters is arguing that technocracy will become an overt political force and win popular support, rather that it is becoming technically feasible and it will be gradually cobbled together to serve the interests of corporations and other conspiracys against the people.

71:

Hum mm ... well I did vote for Plus as being the lessor of two weevils , but ? I will admit that, as being one who lives South of the Border .. but whose Mothers family was given an ancestry that was born in ....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aberfeldy,_Scotland

and thus was born of Golden Haired Viking Immigrants.

I could be said to be prejudiced ... hence a Lady that I did bump into whilst a little while ago walking with my Girl Fiends Hound and who did introduce Herself as - " Remember ME ? " and also .. " How We .. WE being Grrls did Love your Pretty Golden Hair ".. Gods but I was SPOILED ! .. and have long since long since fallen victim to Male Pattern Baldness. But my Viking Ancestors are Much Misunderstood and would have voted for AV rather than putting you to the Sword as it were. For WE we were, and Are, Cute and Lovable really. And so forth. I do hope that Scottish Independence really IS a viable proposition both economically and Socially...BUT ..

Come on now Charlie .. you just have to have developed a proposition for Scottish Independence that isn't based upon emotion and a wish fulfillment fantasy? So what is it?

As for me ..one of these days I must get around to visiting the Hame Land of my Ancestors up there in Aberfeldy.

72:

Mayor of London: from Wikipedia, it and other elected UK mayors are elected via supplementary vote, which is two simplifications away from IRV. In contingent vote, you rank all the candidates but there's only two runoff "rounds"; in supplementary vote, you only rank two of the candidates, and there's only two rounds. So, IRV-lite-lite.

IRV/AV is pretty rubbish compared to the other single-winner alternatives. You can get Condorcet voting for the same amount of work, or approval voting for a lot less work. Simulations show IRV being bizarrely unstable if multiple competitive parties are actually running (which is not the case in Australia.) A quote from the range voting site goes: "Greens in the US support IRV thinking it will let them get elected, Greens in Australia support PR because they know it [IRV] won't."

But what's even more rubbish is that Clegg agreed to this referendum in the first place. The LDs don't want AV, they want PR, which by polity is almost ubiquitous in the UK now.

Scottish Parliament: MMP (or AMS, as Brits call it) (mixed-member proportional, alternate member system)
Welsh Assembly: MMP
London Assembly: MMP
Northern Ireland Assembly: STV
Northern Ireland and maybe Scottish local elections: STV

And for a bonus, STV in Ireland, and the Australian Senate, and MMP in New Zealand.

Three of the four nations of the UK use PR for their devolved government, as does the capital, yet Clegg settled not just for less, but for a referendum on less.

73:

Who says we want Condorcet? The Condorcet methods are more susceptible to tactical voting than AV.

AV would have made the case for PR by showing us the gap between the country's first-preferences and the partys' proportions in Westminster.

74:

More vulnerable than IRV? That's the reverse of anything I've seen. And IRV in simulations is both more unstable and gives more Bayesian regret.

As for making the case for PR, I fail to see how AV would do that any more than simply looking at vote totals and seat allocations today does. Okay, yes, more insignificant parties could start up to get irrelevant first preferences, but this is mostly an issue in the US, I think; the UK already has 3 big parties and has had for a long time, Canada has 4 plus the Greens, and the unfairness of it all is already pretty obvious for anyone who cares.

Again, the UK periphery is already full of MMP or STV. Why sell out your party's principles for a chance at less?

75:

Canada had vote-splitting on the right, too, in the era that Reform and the Alliance were active.

If one side of the political equation can form a "big tent" party and work together under one banner and learn the art of reasonable compromise while the other side are being splitters and forming multiple parties and exploring radical positions, FPTP favours the former, and that in itself may be no bad thing. Ultimately FPTP encourages a two-party system with both near the centre.

76:

As i understand it, with Condorcet you can rank your first preference's major opponent last even if they would have been a reasonable compromise for you. You don't need too much knowledge of how the rest of the votes will fall to see when this will pay off, but if everyone does it then obscure candidates get elected in place of the true Condorcet winner.

With AV there is only the 'pushover' tactic, where you game the elimination sequence to try and get more second preferences for your true choice. It only works with specific voting patterns, so you need a lot of knowledge of how everyone else will vote, and if it goes wrong you've probably just voted in a candidate you hate.

I'm not familiar with Bayesian regret (got any good references?) but i agree AV's sensitivity to minor details of the voting pattern could be disconcerting.

77:

Even with big-tenting, which the US is all about, there are lots of drawbacks: non-centrist influence is limited to the ability of internal party mechanisms to cope, or else to threatening vote-splitting and sabotaging the side; lots of people's votes don't matter, because they're the minority in a district, discouraging engagement and turnout; it's possible to run the country with a quarter of the voters (half the voters in half of the seats); minorities with no geographic concentration have no real chance of getting represented.

It discourages voting, suppresses diversity, and is pretty hackable; not a lot going for it. Though to be fair, a lot of these problems come as much from building a legislature out of single-winner elections by any method, as from winner-take-all elections specifically.

78:

Well, according to the news we lost.

79:

IRV is also susceptible to compromises or favorite betrayal, just like plurality, cases where voting honestly would result in your least favorite candidate winning.

Stability simulations:
http://zesty.ca/voting/sim/
http://rangevoting.org/IrvExtreme.html

IRV and dishonesty and two-party equilibrium
http://rangevoting.org/IRVpartic.html
http://rangevoting.org/TarrIrv.html
http://rangevoting.org/IncentToExagg.html

Bayesian regret and simulations
http://rangevoting.org/BayRegDum.html

80:

No, it is perfect.

81:

Re-reading those pages inclines me to think Condorcet is potentially bad, but still not sure it's any worse than IRV. Dishonestly ranking last the front-runner you don't like is a robust strategy in any preference-ranking system. And widespread in Australia:
http://rangevoting.org/AusAboveTheLine07.html

Anyway, the single-winner systems I support are range or approval. Condorcet I just point out for having better theory for the same work as IRV.

82:

Thanks for the links - quite a lot to assimilate there. I think i was aware of most of it before but had reached different judgements about it's relative badness. I'm not sure his model of how tactical voting works quite matches the one in my head yet either. But certainly interesting stuff and you've at least raised my curiosity about range voting.

83:

While FPTP does encourage a two-party system with both parties similar (Swift's "the Ins and the Outs") it doesn't appear that both parties tend towards the center. The most politically active (which usually means the privileged and the ideological) can drag the political consensus in different directions. In other, the center it seeks is not the average of every citizen's opinion, but the average of every citizen's opinion times how active and organized they are in politics.

84:

Getting back to the OP and the illustration with three coffee-drinkers overruling seven beer-drinkers, it's worth pointing out that the winning plurality in Westminster elections has only actually been below 33.3% for 30 MPs since 1945 - a period in which there have been 17 General Elections, and hence something in the region of 10,000 MPs elected. Only 10 of those 30 are English constituencies, and several of them involve extremely untypical three-way contests (Tory/Liberal/Nat Lib, Green/Lab/LD, Labour/LD/Respect, etc). Most of the time the numerical difference between the FPTP plurality and the AV majority just isn't that big, and a lot of the time the political difference is non-existent (i.e. second preferences would have given a majority to the plurality winner anyway).

I voted No because, while I support PR, I don't believe AV is proportional. I'm far from alone in this - googling news stories on the referendum, I was really surprised by the number of comments saying "I might vote for PR but this isn't even that". Most people may not know a d'Hondt quota from a Borda count, but they do know that Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland use PR, the Greens and the Lib Dems have always supported PR, and even the Labour Party is (reluctantly) committed to do something about PR some time. AV is not PR and (ironically) it's nobody's first choice.

AV for a lot of people seems to be a kind of placeholder, a token of well-intentioned progressive electoral-reform-iness rather than a system in its own right. One of my main reasons for supporting PR is that I frequently vote for the fourth or fifth most popular party and would occasionally like to elect somebody. AV is absolutely useless for this - the barriers for entry for small parties are even higher than with simple plurality voting. To get elected in Brighton, for example, Caroline Lucas would have had to get just as big a first-preference vote as she did, plus second preferences from Lib Dems and Tories - second preferences from the second most popular party (Labour) wouldn't be counted. What AV does really well is to cement a national duopoly (Australia) or a series of local duopolies ("Labour can't win here!"). (More on all this here.)

Also, I think the pressure to close the book on electoral reform would actually have been much stronger if we'd just implemented a partial reform - everyone would be saying we needed to let it bed in for another election or two. Now, AV's been shot down and we've still got a broken system for Westminster elections - unlike the Welsh assembly, Holyrood and even Stormont. When the Northern Ireland assembly makes yours look dysfunctional, that's really embarrassing.

85:

Forgot my link. More on all this here (also, while I'm at it, here and here).

86:

Call it MMP or AVS - The reason that it's used in the Scottish parliament was an attempt by "Noo Laybur" to Gerrymander the vote in perpetuity such that the SNP particularly could never achieve an absolute majority in the House. What seems to have happened this time is that we have had a "perfect storm" of a competent and popular SNP minority administration being forced into doing unpopular things and out of doing popular ones by the opposition, combining with deep unpopularity for all 3 of the Larndarn parties.

87:

As a side point - The LibDems use FPTP in party leader elections. I'm not sure talking about party leadership campaigns helps your point.

I'm all for PR, but not ashamed to say I voted against a Miserable Little Compromise, ne Clegg. Changing voting system is momentous, and tinkering with it too often risks democracy's credit with the people. Better to go direct to a working system with a proportional component.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on May 4, 2011 9:38 AM.

Car boot sale was the previous entry in this blog.

Two months on is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda