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MOBIUS
26-05-2005, 10:26:36
The Independent is leading a campaign for democracy in this country of ours after Labour won a solid overall majority, even though the party took only 36 per cent of the total vote - so despite that fact that 64% of the country voted against him, Blair is still the undisputed leader of this country!:clueless:

And what is he doing about the PR issue? He's just booted off Peter Hain from the committee and replaced him with John "I hate PR with every fibre in my body" Prescott!

This is just plain WRONG!

Strike a blow for democracy and sign the petition! (http://www.independent.co.uk/cfd/democracy.jsp)

The Independent Campaign for Democracy (http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=637826)

Gary
26-05-2005, 10:48:52
But IMO PR is less democracy, not more. When I vote for a representative I want it to be the individual selected, no one else foisted on me. If you want democracy ban political parties. Legislate to ensure the constituents representatives have to consult with those whom they represent, and vote according to the overriding opinion of the area.

MOBIUS
26-05-2005, 11:08:23
Well if you read the articles you will see that your outmoded views of PR are being addressed...:)

Gary
26-05-2005, 11:53:48
There were too many - besides I'm not into what's fashionable to believe, but in what I feel is right. :p

Funko
26-05-2005, 12:28:51
So you believe what you want to believe no matter what the actual facts are about the issue?

Gary
26-05-2005, 13:35:05
Not at all. I believe what I've concluded is correct, having weighed up the actual facts are about the issue !

Funko
26-05-2005, 13:48:17
I don't see how PR can be less democratic

At the moment they reckon as few as 100,000 voters decide the election result. No wonder most people don't think there's any point in them voting.

TauCeti@Japan
26-05-2005, 14:00:54
Originally posted by Gary
But IMO PR is less democracy, not more. When I vote for a representative I want it to be the individual selected, no one else foisted on me. This may sound well and good, but it ignores the fact that in the vast majority of cases, you will not actually be voting for a candidate, you will be voting against the most objectionable one that has a chance of winning.

First past the post utterly sucks as an electoral system. It is wide open to gerrymandering, creating masses of "safe seats" where voting is pointless. In other locations, there will invariably be vast amounts of tactical voting as per above. It practically eliminates the chance of any minor parties to get representatives elected, and leads to two-party systems that only further restrict the voter's choice. To top it all off, you end up with parties receiving less than 40 % of the vote getting 60 % of the representatives and deciding 100 % of the policies.

I want to vote for something that is not the lesser of two evils. And persons matter very little; policies matter a lot.

Funko
26-05-2005, 14:06:02
Exactly. :beer: Well said.

Nills Lagerbaak
26-05-2005, 14:17:28
totally agree. This whole crap of "voting for them will just be a wasted vote" can't help but encourage apathy amongst voters.
The whole business is corrupt enough (did anyone see that dispatched programme on Labour's "spontanious" protests?) without providing reasons why people shouldn't actually vote.

Gary
26-05-2005, 15:23:01
All those objections only apply if you allow a party system of parliament. It is that system that is undemocratic not the way one votes. No one can serve 2 masters well, and if there is a party demanding loyalty, then loyalty to the constituents comes under pressure.

BTW PR is less democratic because it doesn't allow the individual chosen by the biggest group in a constituency to be elected. Depending on what form of PR you adopt, the result is meddled with and you can get someone else.

The only form of PR I've come across that has even a small chance of claiming to be fairer is one of the transferable vote types. And I'm not keen on those since it minimises the chance of either the 'far' left or right getting elected if they don't win outright first round. Since as a candidate drops out of the running, their supporters are unlikely to swing their votes to the other side of the political spectrum, so middle of the road candidates get an advantage. Which I'm unconvinced is a good thing.

Funko
26-05-2005, 15:35:07
What's so good about constituencies for the national parliment? This seems to be the crux of your argument but the way I see it we have local government for local issues - and they should have more power over those local issues. So our votes for the national government should be national.

Frankly an MP representing my local issues at a national parliament is a bit pointless if the local authority has proper power over local issues.

TauCeti@Japan
26-05-2005, 15:42:57
Are you saying that there is no such thing as party discipline in the UK or US today? Or are you trying to claim that FPTP is better because you could in theory have only individual members with no affiliations, internal groupings or any organization, even though nothing like that is ever going to happen?

For your other objection, all forms of PR are fairer because they give parties (or viewpoints, if you prefer) influence proportional to the number of votes they receive. Why you think disenfranchising significant minorities is democratic is beyond me. The biggest groups will also get more representatives, they just do not get them in numbers that are totally disproportionate to the number of people voting for them.

The only disadvantage of PR is too much fracturization, as seen in Italy and Israel. This can however be taken care of by introducing a minimum limit for representation, as most other countries have done.

TauCeti@Japan
26-05-2005, 15:48:29
And you do not need to do away with constituencies in order to have PR. (In fact, I think only Israel has straight nationwide elections.) All you need is to elect multiple members from each (larger) constituency. The bigger the constituencies, the more proportional the representation becomes, and the advantage given to the major parties becomes smaller. But this way you still get regional representation if that is important to you. And you can contact the regional representative whose views are most similar to yours, rather than being stuck with whomever your neighbours decided to vote for.

Gary
26-05-2005, 17:27:10
What's so good about constituencies for the national parliment?

Accountability mainly.

If one is trying to emulate some kind of representative democracy it seems to me that one should try to minimise the distance between the representative and the citizens. That means carving the country up into areas where a local opinion can be represented. The representative is then accountable to the people that they are supposed to represent. To try to treat the country as a whole loses any feeling of connection between those some party chooses to represent THEM in government and the voter who thought the whole idea of a representative democracy was that they were supposed to be represented.

Thus the representative is elected locally, but they represent the views of the voters on national issues not local ones.


Are you saying that there is no such thing as party discipline in the UK or US today? Or are you trying to claim that FPTP is better because you could in theory have only individual members with no affiliations, internal groupings or any organization, even though nothing like that is ever going to happen?

Unsure what you mean by party discipline. But I feel that the MPs are more likely to do what they are told by the party and vote according to how they are instructed than they are to garner the opinion of those they represent. It is the power of the party to control that is one major problem, and why I've concluded that I don't like that system. I make no judgement on what changes will or will not occur in the future.

I am suggesting that FPTP is better regardless because the link of accountability to those they represent is still there, which isn't the case if you find yourself in a constituency that can't have it's highest polling candidate because that party has too many MPs and another is deemed to have too few. That's just horrible and undemocratic. I would feel even more ignored/disenfranchised than I already do with such a system in use.


For your other objection, all forms of PR are fairer because they give parties (or viewpoints, if you prefer) influence proportional to the number of votes they receive.

But ONLY if you consider it right to view the system in terms of parties, which is, as I've indicated above, undemocratic. It produces 2 masters and the ones who are supposed to be represented if democracy is to be achieved are the ones who are ignored.

Why you think disenfranchising significant minorities is democratic is beyond me.

And you will see that I've never suggested they should be. The whole point is to include each individual and reduce the power of the group.

The biggest groups will also get more representatives, they just do not get them in numbers that are totally disproportionate to the number of people voting for them.

Groups yes ! Exactly the problem. Individuals no.


The bigger the constituencies, the more proportional the representation becomes

And the smaller the constituencies the more democratic it becomes, in the extreme, every citizen having one vote and doing away with representatives.

Funko
26-05-2005, 17:30:09
Bearing in mind it's totally unrealistic that we're ever going to get rid of party politics* how does that influence your view?

*If we did 'ban' parties then surely there's no way to stop people grouping together with other like minded people in parliment etc. any way in fact isn't how the party system evolved in the first place?

Gary
26-05-2005, 17:36:21
Bearing in mind it's unrealistic that we'll ever get democracy I don't think that's relevant. This thread has brought out views on what would ideally be the solution, and what is the best voting system in practice. I don't think one need assume that because the ideal is unlikely to be attained one can dismiss everything else.

No there's no problem in like minded folk getting together, that would be expected. It's when the group can force the individuals to do as they're told, in possible opposition to what their constituents might want, that a problem arises.

Agreements are one thing, compulsion quite another.

Gary
26-05-2005, 17:39:02
Oh, and of course one can substitute, "ignoring the voters because of being forced by the party", with, "ignoring the voters because of personal ambition", if you like, although with the latter at least the individual can be slung out at the next election.

TauCeti@Japan
26-05-2005, 19:04:30
Gary, I have trouble understanding your view of proper representation. Even if my next door neighbour is elected to office, if he is a Tory or a Republican (or some local equivalent), there is absolutely no way he is going to represent my views. Are you seriously saying that you would prefer to be "represented" by someone having views that are diametrically opposed to yours, solely based on proximity to your place of residence? The idea of someone being accountable to people who did not vote for him in the first place is also fairly ludicrous in practice. What else are they going to do?

I see no difference in party power under the various systems. In all cases, it is the parties that decide what candidate(s) to run, and if a candidate gets dumped by his party, he will have to run as an independent (which is still quite possible under PR). In fact, because of the constant redistricting which is needed under FPTP, the parties get more power because they also get to change the boundaries of the districts themselves, and thus get to create "safe seats".

Why you think disenfranchising significant minorities is democratic is beyond me.

And you will see that I've never suggested they should be. The whole point is to include each individual and reduce the power of the group.

But your preferred system does precisely the opposite! PR is the equivalent of polling each individual, then adding it all up and dividing influence accordingly. FPTP is the equivalent of dividing people into random groups, probably with widely different interests, then polling each group and allocating one representative to the view that got a plurality in that particular group. It is even possible for a view to be held by the majority of the population, but end up with no representation because it was not a plurality in any district. This is not democratic, nor does it empower the individual in any way.

The bigger the constituencies, the more proportional the representation becomes

And the smaller the constituencies the more democratic it becomes, in the extreme, every citizen having one vote and doing away with representatives.

Surely the point of a representative democracy is to represent the views of the people as closely as possible. And what is the obvious way of doing this? To allocate representatives according to the proportion of the population that supports those views!

Giving those who happen to be outside the plurality in any given district no voice at all is neither democratic nor empowering.

Under PR, every vote counts. Under FPTP, a few votes in each district is all that matters.

JM^3
26-05-2005, 19:27:47
some people vote for a person rather than a party

like I can imagine thinking that one person espouses ideas more in agreement to yours, but the other being a better leader/more honest

and voting with the more honest person...

yeah, you might get some things passed that you don't favor, but you also won't get all the corruption and the like that you don't favor also

this is even more important if no parties think exactly like you do (this is the case for me)

there are cases where I would vote for Republicans/Liberterrians/Reform (although I disagree with their platforms..) just because of who the Greens/Socialists/Democrats run..

Jon Miller

TauCeti@Japan
26-05-2005, 19:36:38
There is nothing stopping you from voting for a different party under PR either.

You will know in advance who the candidates are, and can make up your mind based on that. Of course no party program matches your opinions completely, but neither does any single representative unless it is yourself.

Under both FPTP and PR, the party decides which candidate(s) to run, and if the one you like is not among them, the only choice you have is to vote for a different party - unless it is common for multiple members of the same party to stand for election in the same single-representative district. My impression is that it is not.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
27-05-2005, 08:48:52
I'd like to see PR on the basis of constituencies with about 5 seats. In that case, the list-problem is not really one as you have maybe two, at worst three candidates elected on a single party list.

MOBIUS
27-05-2005, 09:59:54
So I take it everyone has signed the petition then?:)

Frankly I don't understand your position Gary. Whilst it is obviously preferential to have a local elected representative - it is also in the interests of democracy to have a representative in Parliament to represent your views.

Living here in Wales they have local representatives and list representatives, that way broadly speaking you have Assembly Members aligned to the majority wishes of the local constituency as well as an overall mix of AM's representing five larger regions in a proportional manner. Map of Welsh AM's (http://www.wales.gov.uk/who/amconst_e.htm)

Anyway the Independent petition is not specifically for PR but 'Electoral Reform'...

Dear Mr Blair,

I believe that the result of this month's election, in which your government was elected with a 67-seat majority on 36% of the popular vote and with the support of 22% of the electorate, is a subversion of our democracy.

I call on you, in your final term as Prime Minister, to institute urgent reform of our voting system so that the British people are encouraged to believe that their votes count and that the result of a general election is more representative of their wishes.

Of course we all know that the fairest possible way of getting something approaching a true democracy is through PR...;)

Gary
27-05-2005, 11:34:06
Are you seriously saying that you would prefer to be "represented" by someone having views that are diametrically opposed to yours, solely based on proximity to your place of residence?

Of course not. What I am saying is that any system that has a representative has flaws. But if the majority of folk in my constituency has opinions diametrically opposed to mine, then I am overruled. That's democracy. And when this is reflected at a national level when the representatives cast their vote then it should accurately reflect the opinion on the majority of the population in the country.

The idea of someone being accountable to people who did not vote for him in the first place is also fairly ludicrous in practice. What else are they going to do?

I'm not even sure what you mean by this. The elected MP for the constituency should obviously be accountable to all constituents regardless what proportion voted for them. He or she is their representative. However in the present system he or she is probably just lobby fodder for the party's wishes.

if a candidate gets dumped by his party, he will have to run as an independent (which is still quite possible under PR).

Sure they can, but it's fairly pointless. With a party system in place, a handful of independents are not going to achieve much. You need independents everywhere to be more democratic, or else all you have is a "drop in the ocean".

under FPTP, the parties get more power

I suspect there is a limit to how many safe seats they can create like that. Either an area is predisposed towards a particular political philosophy or they're not (although it's often difficult to tell the parties apart these days). I suspect this is more of a red herring, the main thing is to try to prevent encouraging a bad system by changing to a voting system that supports it. One where votes go not to an individual to represent you, but to a party that will do what it's leader wants and who will not listen.

PR is the equivalent of polling each individual, then adding it all up and dividing influence accordingly

This is so, but only on party lines, which I hope I've explained I don't like. It means you've not really had any say in who it is who represents you. You've just picked a party and they've decided who they want. You've sacrificed the most important part for this, "someone I didn't vote for holds views similar to mine" benefit. And it's not necessary since any minority can lobby their MP and put their case to the public to consider their views, so there's no real advantage in having one or two individuals unable to make themselves heard properly. Much better to talk it out with your representative.

FPTP is the equivalent of dividing people into random groups

Hardly random, they are polling the beliefs of the local community. Seems fairly reasonable to me.

probably with widely different interests

In any group there will be differences of opinions/interests.

then polling each group and allocating one representative to the view that got a plurality in that particular group.

Indeed, the way democracy works is that the majority opinion holds sway.

It is even possible for a view to be held by the majority of the population, but end up with no representation because it was not a plurality in any district.

If it is held by a majority of the population then it must be held by the majority in a number of constituencies at least. And it would take a very skewed distribution not to see the majority held opinion end up with no representation. I can't see this being an issue.

This is not democratic, nor does it empower the individual in any way.

I beg to differ. As explained it is democracy.

Surely the point of a representative democracy is to represent the views of the people as closely as possible. And what is the obvious way of doing this? To allocate representatives according to the proportion of the population that supports those views!

The obvious way of doing this is for the individuals to elect the person they wish to represent them. Otherwise why should the citizens feel they have had any say at all ? I'd feel totally disenfranchised if even that small influence was removed.

Under PR, every vote counts. Under FPTP, a few votes in each district is all that matters.

Under PR every vote counts for the party. Under FPTP every vote would count if you didn't have your representative under someone else's control. Under PR your representative is distant from you as you didn't vote for any individual. Under FPTP your representative has a direct link to you as they personally were asking for your vote.



Frankly I don't understand your position Gary.

Well sorry about that. But I think this'll have to be the last post I make here as I got bored with this all quite a while ago. :)

Funko
27-05-2005, 11:45:46
This is so, but only on party lines, which I hope I've explained I don't like. It means you've not really had any say in who it is who represents you. You've just picked a party and they've decided who they want.

You can join the party, then you have input into the decision.

King_Ghidra
27-05-2005, 11:52:18
what so everyone should join every party so they can potentially input into whatever candidates are potentially elected by the votes potentially cast by themselves and others? seems a bizarre idea

Funko
27-05-2005, 11:54:01
Or maybe it's more bizarre that so many people complain that all the candidates are shit and so few try and work at doing anything about it. :cute:

*End Is Forever*
27-05-2005, 13:17:57
If proportional representation produces a coalition government, then you get a government that nobody voted for. Sure, you can't force a government to carry through on manifesto commitments, but with a coalition government you might as well rip up the manifestoes before the horse-trading starts. Parties with small fractions of the vote can hold a government to ransom. What's better, a government on 36% of the vote, or a government on 0% of the vote - which is what a coalition government is.

Incidentally, neither the Welsh or Scottish systems are any sort of fair PR. They're a piss-poor baffling attempt to "correct" FPTP. Gaining a seat on the FPTP system usually means that you get compensated down a seat via the list. Hundreds of thousands of Labour votes were cast without a prayer on the list system.

Funko
27-05-2005, 13:20:04
If proportional representation produces a coalition government, then you get a government that nobody voted for.

Or that everyone voted for! I don't agree with any single party on every issue and I'm sure that's quite a common thing.

Dyl Ulenspiegel
27-05-2005, 13:21:07
"a government on 0% of the vote"

Wow, that's cheap - even for a Tory. :p

Funko
27-05-2005, 13:24:02
The more I think about that statement the more bullshit I think it is. And I thought it was really bullshit before. If a coallition is formed from two parties in a PR system that means those two parties between them must have more than 50% of the vote, that's the whole point isn't it? :confused:

King_Ghidra
27-05-2005, 14:00:07
yeah except i think the point is that maybe 0% of the policies you voted for get to be put into action because they are watered down or given up to keep the coalition together

Funko
27-05-2005, 14:00:44
The last thing we want is governments legislating always causes trouble. ;)

King_Ghidra
27-05-2005, 14:01:31
well that is a commonly made argument for PR, because it leads to weaker govts, and some people think that is a good thing

Funko
27-05-2005, 14:13:08
Powerful governments are fine as long as they do what I want. :)

King_Ghidra
27-05-2005, 14:14:22
time to re-install Civilisation then

Funko
27-05-2005, 14:18:37
Even then the bloody government sometimes didn't allow you to start a war.

Drekkus
27-05-2005, 14:24:45
Wow, that's another 10 second scrolldown wasted.

TauCeti@Japan
27-05-2005, 19:14:14
OK, Gary, I am really trying to understand your position, but it is not very easy. What is clear is that you really truly hate a party system. However, the party system is not going anywhere regardless of what you may think about it. Given this, you have not demonstrated any way parties get more power under PR.

After that, your objection seems to be that you vote for a list instead of an individual. This is again totally irrelevant, since you will in any case have had no input as to what candidate is presented to you. In all cases, if you do not like the (primary) candidate selected by the party, you have to vote for some other party.

Once these things are out of the way, the only thing that remains is the question of which system reflects the opinion of the people the most. PR directly reflects it by assigning representatives according to the number of votes, while FPTP gives all the power to whatever party can muster a plurality and will tend to give any major party significantly more representatives than their proportion of the votes. Your statement that this is more democratic and a more accurate reflection of the will of the people is quite simply silly, ludicrous and obviously false.

FPTP is a "winner takes all" system. This means that whoever does not form a plurality in a district gets NO representation. Disenfranchisement. Getting one specific number to call or address to write to does not address this. At all.

Oh, and I am drunk. :beer:

TauCeti@Japan
27-05-2005, 19:16:58
Originally posted by *End Is Forever*
If proportional representation produces a coalition government, then you get a government that nobody voted for. Sure, you can't force a government to carry through on manifesto commitments, but with a coalition government you might as well rip up the manifestoes before the horse-trading starts. Parties with small fractions of the vote can hold a government to ransom. What's better, a government on 36% of the vote, or a government on 0% of the vote - which is what a coalition government is. Quite frequently, the likely coalitions are obvious in advance. Indeed, it is pretty unlikely that you will not know what government (or at the very least what TYPE of government) the party you vote for will support. In any case, compromise is not a bad thing, especially if the alternative is complete rule by a government elected by a minority.

Spartak
27-05-2005, 19:20:19
Originally posted by Drekkus
Wow, that's another 10 second scrolldown wasted. :lol:

*End Is Forever*
28-05-2005, 17:47:27
‘Proportional representation, by its nature, produces hung parliaments and the coalitions which are their outcome. That is why it is so popular with minority parties and with those politicians who want to blunt the edge of radical change. It prevents a new government from undoing the work of the old ....... If democracy is the occasional opportunity for the people to change the nature rather than the personnel of a government, proportional representation reduces democracy rather than increases it.

Critics of our present system underestimate the importance of the twin doctrines of the manifesto and the mandate - parties publishing their programme before the election and promising that, given the chance, they will do their best to put it into practice after polling day. With proportional representation that process - offering the electorate the chance to reject or endorse specific policies - is rendered impossible. In hung parliaments, the people vote first and the manifesto on which the government will work is decided afterwards. The parties huddle together after the result is known, horsetrading with one another in order to put together a workable coalition. None of the election promises can be sacrosanct. Each one may have to be sacrificed in order to attract the support of a minority party whose votes are necessary for a Commons coalition. That, too, is a very special definition of democracy’

TauCeti@Japan
29-05-2005, 14:18:33
"We must silence the smaller minorities so the bigger minority can rule unopposed! Anything else would be undemocratic!"

or alternatively

"We must allow governments to freely implement policies a majority voted against! Anything else would be undemocratic!"

Dyl Ulenspiegel
29-05-2005, 17:05:56
"the importance of the twin doctrines of the manifesto and the mandate"

Ah, the beauty of fairy tale land...

*End Is Forever*
29-05-2005, 17:31:46
Perhaps, Roland, you could enlighten us on how PR treated Austria over the last few decades?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
30-05-2005, 08:12:20
PR does not "treat" anyone. And I wouldn't mind a french style majority voting system here.

But the crucial issue is that incompetent, corrupt and delusional politicians (ie 99 % of them) are kept in check, and that the voting system allows for routine punishments. The problem with the UK's system is that those fucktards get way too much power and are difficult to vote out - in a PR system, the fall to 36 % would have killed Blair.

*End Is Forever*
30-05-2005, 14:05:41
I'm sensing a "Paxman moment" hear. How has PR treated Austria over the last few decades?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
30-05-2005, 14:15:53
"I'm sensing a "Paxman moment" hear."

?

"How has PR treated Austria over the last few decades?"

If you want an answer to that, rephrase the question. What do you mean by "treat"?

*End Is Forever*
30-05-2005, 16:13:02
Come on... how has PR treated Austria over the last few decades?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
30-05-2005, 16:47:04
This is not poly where you repeat a badly-phrased question ad nauseam and finally celebrate another person's exhaustion as a victory of your brilliant intellect.

I'm serious - wtf do you mean exactly?

*End Is Forever*
30-05-2005, 17:34:29
Evidently the Paxman (http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/biographies/biogs/news/jeremypaxman.shtml) reference eluded you. It was a joke.

What sort of political establishment has PR in Austria produced?

Dyl Ulenspiegel
31-05-2005, 08:57:25
Now that is a question.

The political establishment has been mostly recruited through social institutions. There are many party-related associations that serve that purpose.

PR has only a limited influence on that. Of course, there are certain retards that can only be elected on a party list. But direct elections (namely for mayors) show that in many areas, party affiliation trumps personality.

What PR has created or at least facilitated is a strong element of consensus democracy, at least until 2000. That has been a necessity post 1945 and should have been dumped 30 years ago. It has broken down now - with a PR system and the rise of a populist opposition.

We had single party governments from 1966-1983, btw.