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Comments on Thursday 14 November 2002:
Related to my grumbling about voting methods the other day, I've discovered two more things. Firstly, the voting system used in Australia that I mentioned is better called Instant Runoff Voting than whatever I called it. Much less ambiguous. Secondly, there's a voting method that seems better and a bit less silly, but also harder to explain; Condorcet Voting. It's possible, with Instant Runoff, for decreasing preferences for a candidate to cause that candidate to win. On the other hand, it's possible, with Condorcet, for a candidate that nobody liked best to be the winner. Which sounds quite bad. Not necessarily so, though - if voting on a linear scale of some sort, with a candidate in the left, one on the right, and one in the middle, if half the voters prefer 'left' and half the voters prefer 'right', the winner will be 'middle' (assuming voters who prefer left cast their order of preference as "left,middle,right" and the other lot cast "right,middle,left"). Which makes quite a lot of sense, even if it does make nobody happy. Really, I think the "vote with your feet" method of voting is best - all the left-voters go to Leftland, all the right-voters go to Rightland, stick an impenetrable barrier between them, and everyone wins. [03:31]

mvo
Usually the impenetrable barrier will be put up as soon as either side sees an advantage in doing so. Can't let the votes slip away that easy.

Slightly related remark: How about the Iraqi voting system, that must claim the prize for simplicity. And satisfaction -- Saddam scored a solid 100% last time around! ;o)

Tom
I would say nobody wins. Would you go for it if I could stick an impenetrable barrier between the left and right sides of your brain? I think both sides are needed for a working society.

BTW, Instant Runoff Voting is only used in Australia to elect the House of Representatives (the lower house, the government is formed from the party with the most seats). Proportional Representation voting is used for the Senate (upper house, house of review, akin to the house of Lords in the UK, but elected rather than granted peerages etc, house of the states - each state elects 12 senators regardless of state population to ensure that each state gets equal representation). The ballot papers are similar when it comes to filling them out so the method of voting often seems to get confused, but the counting is different. http://www.australianpolitics.com/voting/systems/proportional.shtml explains this system. The central difference, I think, is that this system elects first on the basis of a candidate reaching a set quota of the votes - once a candidate reaches this quota, they are elected. After this any votes over the quota get transferred according to preferences. In practice this means that the minor parties usually have the balance of power in the Senate.

To become law, legislature is proposed in the House, then (if approved) passes to the Senate, then (if approved) is sent to the Governor General for him to approve as the Queen's proxy. Technically, I think he can say no at this point, but he never has as far as I can remember. He can dismiss the government entirely if he wants and Sir John Kerr as Governor General did so in dismissing the Whitlam government in 1975. So you could say that the Australian govt only governs with the Queens approval. In light of the current butler situation, I'm going to bed now.

Digi
I would challenge the reasons for voting rather than the methods. That's not to say I don't think the methods are blotted and ugly.

In a democracy of 60 million (like the UK is *said* to be) I the person am 1/60*million of the boss. The way it actually works is we elect a guy based on how well his opinions fit ours. We may hate our favorite guy, he may be a Nazi, who doesn't like rape. We may have only voted him in because all the other candidates were Nazis that did like rape.

Once elected and with a majority (and preferably a majority in the upper house) our non-raping Nazi can do whatever the hell he likes for the next five years. He can lawfully do things that people openly disagree with, to the full joy of parliamentary democracy.

I suggest that our leaders’ views are irrelevant. They are at the bottom of the pile. Their job should be to interpret our views, collate them into one overall opinion and implement it. This would be my third favorite political system. My second favorite is a democracy where the majority agrees with me. My first favorite is a Dictatorship where I am the dictator.

Coyote
Whoa, shows how much I pay attention to my country! Bit of an eye opener really. I'm not stupid or anything, just indifferent... if it doesn't involve computers, programming or the other shit that keeps me occupied, it just goes in one ear and out the other. *shrugs* Thanks for the insight.
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