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April 21, 2005

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Jarndyce

Though at least under most forms of PR you'd be able to start an economically literate left libertarian party and stand some chance of getting representation at national level, assuming there was no significant vote thresholds to keep you out. In practicality terms, you might then get a degree of demand revealed without the expense of referenda.

Blimpish

This is so very wrong. I understand what people need, and as dictator, I will give it to them, good and proper. (Apologies to H L Mencken)

Ian

I oppose PR because it consolidates the control of politics by parties.

Political parties are an abuse of the electorial system we have, which is regional representational government by democracy, the person I vote for should be the one I feel represents me and other people in the region, that has been lost under a tide of national interests covered by party politics.

Bizarrely, people complain that none of the parties provide their own views, but I find myself voting for candidates for the party in spite of disagreeing with their personal politics.

Outlawing political parties would enable Hari's "iPod politics", candidates can support multiple ideals to suit, based on issues rather than dogma or doctrine, thus we can have, say, a pro-war liberal, a pro-privatization socialist, an anti-EU conservative, an pro-immigration nationalist, a pro-secularism theocrat, etc.

To make this more effective, increase the MPs to around 3,000, and deliberately split constituencies along ABC and ethnic lines. The management of 5 times as many constituencies should be easy in todays technological world, as easy as going from a few dozen vinyls in a cardboard box to an iPod with 10,000 songs.

To be fair, we need an easy way to know who we vote for, candidates can "join" idealogical groups, even single-issue ones, but the difference is (a) you can join more than one group, and (b) there is no secret cabal that restricts one supporter of a group to any one constituency. You pick the group(s) you support and find the candidate with the best match.

Amongst the definition of a political party would be restrictions on membership and constituency standing, this would be made illegal.

Actually, I need to think about this further ...

Rob

A couple of people I know are working on what prospects lotteries hold out for democratic reform, the idea being that you incorporate some randomization into the process of electing representatives. It's not something I know very much about, but I think the idea is that either you have some selection procedure (people who want to be representatives, an election, a qualification of some kind - age, property, residence, whatever - or the population at large) and then draw lots to see who gets to be a member of the government/legislature. Apparently the Renaissance Italian city states did something like this. The advantages over only having voting, it's argued, are greater representativeness and diversity of views. I think I'd prefer this over referenda, because maintaining something like the current structure of government would tend to enforce some degree of responsibility which might be lacking in referenda (given the problems of framing, inconsistency, dominance of single issues, etc...), but it's certainly something to think about.

jamie

"This is so very wrong. I understand what people need, and as dictator, I will give it to them, good and proper. (Apologies to H L Mencken)"

Didn't Mencken propose that the President of the US be appointed by lottery, in the same way as juries?

Blimpish

Crikey Jamie - can't remember. Mencken was hardly one for making serious policy proposals, so he might have done so with a raised eyebrow.

Incidentally, on a serious political theory-type point, there's quite a lot underneath this post... The modern project is to automate the virtuous, to eliminate fortune - from Machiavelli, through Hobbes and Locke and Montesquieu. But ultimately, as with all of the modern project, the weakness is that it abstracts from the question of the good... And then leaves the door open to managerialism.

The real secret is in accepting that no mechanism will provide us with 'perfect' politics, and that any attempt to find such a mechanism is the essence of ideology - and therefore, to be avoided wherever possible.

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