Election integrity and systems of government

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Dave_LF
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Dave_LF »

If you're going to have more than two candidates, you really need to have multiple rounds of voting too*. Otherwise you get a situation where someone like (I don't know) Donald Trump who is unacceptable to the majority of the party wins its primary anyway because the rest of the vote is divided among several acceptable candidates. And if you're going to have multiple rounds of voting, it needs to be easy to do. People already have to endure enough hassle to vote once; you're not going to convince someone to leave work early, drive to a polling place, and spend an hour waiting in line to pull a lever more than a couple times a year (if that much). Some we'd have to start with voting reform. But it's very difficult to motivate anyone to make the necessary changes for that to happen, because whoever's in charge got there via the system as it is.

This is the eternal conundrum: to effect change, you need to have power. But if you have power, why would you want things to change?

* Either that or something like letting voters rank all the candidates in order of preference, or giving everyone n votes to distribute at will, etc., but those would be substantial changes too. Though perhaps less so.
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Nin
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Nin »

And what about a system where the head of government is not elected by the people but by a majority of the parliament? I tend to find that coalitions are the better solution because they represent more voters and will need to adapt their more extreme positions in order to work with their coalition partners.

In Germany, neither the chancellor nor the president (who of you knows him, by the way?) are elected by the people and in Switzerland, the president is on a yearly turning among the seven federal councilors who are not elected directly either - and who have to implement the policy decided by the people or the parliament whatever was the position of their party before the vote. The Swiss system is quite unique.

And voting can be very easy. I vote at least 5/6 times every year on various issues and it's no problem at all.

In other words, I think that a presidential system has many flaws (this is part of the problem in France too and has led to political paralysis in the country at past occasions). Americans (from what I can judge on the entire continent, not only North Americans) are just very used to think representation in form of a president, so it seems to me that you see limitations and problems in the voting process or in the partys to which alternatives exist.
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Dave_LF
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Dave_LF »

I touched lightly on that idea at b77 a few days ago; I'll just paste what I wrote there below:
Trump neatly embodies all the reasons most of the founders didn't want the president to be popularly elected, and it's kind of hard to argue with them right now.
...
Trump would never even have been a candidate if the president were chosen by independent electors. The electoral college we have now is sort of the worst of both worlds--electors who are expected to rubber-stamp popular opinion, but who are not allocated in proportion to population.

The major difficultly with the idea of independent electors is: who chooses them? The original idea was that the people would vote for electors who reflected their political philosophies, and the electors would then make their own, independent judgments about which presidential candidates were best. But predictably (in hindsight), this promptly degenerated into a de facto popular election when the would-be electors began to openly declare their presidential preferences ahead of time. You might consider solving this by electing the electors before the presidential candidates are even announced, but another thing the founders didn't anticipate was the rise of political parties (again, obvious in hindsight). Party affiliation means electing the electors first would turn every presidential election into "generic democrat vs. generic republican," which would leave the parties free to nominate hyper-partisan candidates. The current system does at least encourage, if not guarantee, nominal centrism.
What prevents the actual parliamentary systems out there from falling prey to my concern toward the end; i.e. what prevents the party in power from appointing a hyper-partisan executive that none of the citizenry would vote for given the choice, and who can't be removed by anything short of a coordinated, nation-wide effort to deprive the party in question of its majority?
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Frelga »

You could make that work by making the Executive relatively easy to remove by popular measures.

But the problem inherent in any democracy is that the quality of elected representatives reflects the quality of the voters.

"And so the children of the revolution were faced with the age-old problem: it wasn't that you had the wrong kind of government, which was obvious, but that you had the wrong kind of people."

Terry Pratchett, Night Watch
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Nin
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Nin »

Dave_LF wrote: What prevents the actual parliamentary systems out there from falling prey to my concern toward the end; i.e. what prevents the party in power from appointing a hyper-partisan executive that none of the citizenry would vote for given the choice, and who can't be removed by anything short of a coordinated, nation-wide effort to deprive the party in question of its majority?
In systems in which the head of government is elected indirectly, several parties exist and it is extremely rare that one party has an absolute majority that makes the appointment of a a hyper-partisan executive possible. Even Hitler did not reach that goal in democratic elections. He had to pass by the enforcement law which gave him those absolute powers and in which the parliament dissolved itself. Both of the countries in which I have lived all my life have always been governed by coalitions - which meant compromise.

There will be elections in Germany this year and if you vote for the CDU, you know that indirectly you vote for Merkel. If you vote for the SPD, you know that you vote for Schulz as a chancellor. But the chances that Merkel has an absolute majority are zero - same for Schulz. So, if you vote, let's say for the Green Party - you know that in the end, they have a chance to represented in the government with a few ministers (foreign secretary in a typical post for the coalition partner) and that in fact, if you vote for a "small" party which can become important because it would be the one giving the "huge" party those votes which will ensure the absolute majority which you will need to govern - it often means that in fact the political power of small parties will be overrepresented because the have a key position. ( I think my syntax is a disaster int hat sentence). Often small parties do not present their candidate as important but their program.

Switzerland is yet a whole different kind of cans of worms...
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Dave_LF »

Part of what makes this difficult is that I oscillate between thinking the system is dominated by the wealthy elites, and that it's dominated by ignorant masses. :upsidedown: I suppose there's no reason it can't be both. And it's not a new problem.
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by yovargas »

Nin wrote:In systems in which the head of government is elected indirectly, several parties exist and it is extremely rare that one party has an absolute majority that makes the appointment of a a hyper-partisan executive possible.
Why would that be? Is the U.S.'s 2-party system thing only common in countries with systems like ours?
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Frelga »

IS there another country with a 2-party system like the US? I'm drawing a blank.
Dave_LF wrote:Part of what makes this difficult is that I oscillate between thinking the system is dominated by the wealthy elites, and that it's dominated by ignorant masses. :upsidedown: I suppose there's no reason it can't be both. And it's not a new problem.
A cynic might say that it's the ignorant masses manipulated by wealthy elites.

If I had to choose one issue that would decide my vote, it's the attitude towards education.
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Impenitent »

* nods vigorously in agreement with Frelga *
The position on education and, for me, the position on a sturdy welfare system.

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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Nin »

yovargas wrote:
Why would that be? Is the U.S.'s 2-party system thing only common in countries with systems like ours?
In short yes. If you have a majority vote ("the winner takes it all"), two party system is more likely to emerge, like in the US and several countries of British political heritage in the Commonwealth. If you have a proportional vote, multi party systems are more likely to emerge, like in Germany and most of Europe.

It's not the only factor and both systems have advantages, but in short if you want more choice you'll need to give power to little parties too.
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Frelga »

Nin, I really appreciate your perspective.
Impenitent wrote:* nods vigorously in agreement with Frelga *
The position on education and, for me, the position on a sturdy welfare system.

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"And the study of Torah is equal to them all because it leads to them all." ;)

I landed on education because to me it's a shorthand for the kind of electorate the party or politician hopes for and by extension the kind of policies they hope to get away with.

I hesitate to bring up splitting the thread, because sometimes the new thread doesn't survive, but if the discussion of forms of government goes on much longer, maybe it's worth considering?
His philosophy was a mixture of three famous schools -- the Cynics, the Stoics and the Epicureans -- and summed up all three of them in his famous phrase, 'You can't trust any bugger further than you can throw him, and there's nothing you can do about it, so let's have a drink."

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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Nin »

I wondered too about splitting.

I don't know, education has not been such a hot debate point at any of the elections in which I could vote (and that makes a lot! - mostly in Switzerland) First, it has never been even a question that e.g. schools should not be free anymore (or universities which are not entirely free, but it's around 1000 francs per year). Second, if a major reform would be decided, the people would get to vote on it anyway again. Last month the people of Zurich rejected an initiative that wanted to limit foreign languages taught in primary school to English and drop French. Education is really not a major preoccupation in electoral campaigns.

My breaking point in Germany would be European policy, ecology and women's rights - notably abortion rights - this is why I prefer the SPD which is more to the left. But Merkel is a good politician and the CDU a solid, democratic party.
In Switzerland, parties are quite secondary at moments. I vote every time. Immigration issues are important for me (I am an immigrant...), as are women's rights and ecology.
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Re: Health Care Reform

Post by Impenitent »

Australia has preferential voting, yet we effectively have a two-party state.

There are certainly other parties in the senate (in fact, the cross bench has 20 senators from minor parties and the goverment relies on them to get legislation over the line) but only 4 representatives from other than the two major parties in the lower house.

While the government is a coalition of Liberals and Nationals, this coalition is so stable one can't imagine it ever breaking down.

We have always had Independents, and a changing cast of minor parties which have sometimes held the balance of power, but the two traditional parties of the left and the right remain powerhouses.

I can't imagine this shifting without major electoral reform, including a clear look at funding. And, of course, those who hold power see no need to change the structure that got them there. This is true all over the world.

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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Cenedril_Gildinaur »

The sad thing is there are answers to this problem. My favorite answer is IRV, which is almost as simple as regular voting and almost as effective as condorcet voting.

The problem with implementing any system of greater effectiveness is, a big problem. The people who benefit from our current system are the ones who would need to implement giving us a better system.
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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Dave_LF »

I would be quite happy to see instant runoff introduced. It's not perfect, but it's way better than what we have and would require minimal changes to the system. Though it's hard to think of a (reasonably) foolproof way to do it with paper ballots.
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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Impenitent »

We have paper ballots (which I trust much more than technological alternatives), and preferential voting (so some seats can have 9 or 10 candidates - and the Senate ballot can have 20 or 30+ parties), and a huge geographical area, and the system works very smoothly.

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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Alatar »

Probably the most important thing for fair elections is clear rules on fundraising and campaign monies. The biggest problem the US has is that its Politicians are bought and paid for.
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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Túrin Turambar »

On the other hand, Trump won despite being massively out-fundraised and out-spent. Sanders did extremely well with little fundraising. Jeb Bush had virtually nothing to show for his huge fundraising drive - he ended up spending something like $2,000 for every vote he actually got in the primaries.
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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Griffon64 »

In the case of Trump, he spent his campaign money years ago by getting his name into the American consciousness by claiming "success" on the back of a massive inheritance and bully tactics. There's plenty of - I'll just step out and say it - stupid people around who think Donald J. Trump is a brilliant businessman despite his many bankruptcies and ability to make his inheritance worth less than it would have been had he just invested it conservatively - and who thinks that somehow that correlates to being a good president. I also thought Bernie Sanders raised a surprising amount of money - around $240 million? - though maybe that is chump change in elections nowadays.

I need to not even talk about the election process in America, because it just makes me sad.
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Re: Election integrity and systems of government

Post by Cenedril_Gildinaur »

Túrin Turambar wrote:On the other hand, Trump won despite being massively out-fundraised and out-spent. Sanders did extremely well with little fundraising. Jeb Bush had virtually nothing to show for his huge fundraising drive - he ended up spending something like $2,000 for every vote he actually got in the primaries.
And that's how we know that Clinton was right all along about how she was the most electable candidate ever - she barely beat Bernie in spite of out-spending him massively, and lost to Trump in spite of out-spending him massively.
"If you love wealth more than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, depart from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains rest lightly upon you and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen."
-- Samuel Adams
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