Quoting Russell Coker (russell(a)coker.com.au):
On Wed, 6 Apr 2016 03:27:18 PM Rick Moen via luv-talk
> > If the US had a similar system there could be candidates
> > representing the Tea Party and the mainstream Republican
> > party competing for a seat.
Forgot to mention earlier as background for Oz folk: The 'Tea Party' is
not an actual political party. It is a wacky reactionary, relatively
small, Koch Brothers-funded ideological faction that attempts to control
Republican Party functions and policy. However, e.g., no US state's
ballot ever has 'Tea Party' as a qualified political party -- because
there is no such party. No party central committee, no partisan
affiliation that candidates run under on state ballots, no party
nominating convention -- because no actual political party at all.
Individual Republican candidates declare themselves to be 'Tea Party'
aspirants, talk about their gob-smackingly stupid convictions, and, if
elected, attempt to conspire with other, similar ideologues to do or not
do particular things. Primarily inside the USA Congress, this has
involved near-total refusal to participate in the normal functions of
Congress, and ongoing effort to sabotage both the Executive Branch (the
Obama Presidency) and their own Republican leaders. (This is the
biggest reason why John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives
and conservative Republican from Ohio, resigned as both Speaker and
Congressman in 2015, and why conservative Republican Paul Ryan of
Wisconsin only reluctantly agreed to take his place as Speaker: The job
has been made difficult and thankless by mindless obstruction from the
small ~10% faction of Tea Party nitwits, who undermine and sandbag
Republican Party leaders.)
(Trumpism, if there is such a thing outside the celebrity ego cult, is
idiocy, too, but the point is that it's a different type of idiocy.)
objection to your suggestion, but just as a point of
clarification for anyone who doesn't know: Please remember that
political parties are _not_ part of the US political system -- and I
do mean that seriously -- at either the Federal or state (or local)
level. They are private political associations.
I think that's mostly the case for Australia too apart from some
issues related to election finance, registration, and listings on
To my knowledge, this is true in all Commonwealth countries using
or adapting the Westminster system.
(Please pardon any areas of total ignorance I have about provisions
unique to Australia. I have a general acquaintance with the UK
implementation, as well as of Canada's derived system that differs
mainly in its allocation of powers between Federal and provincial
matters. Australia obviously implements a similar division because
of a similar need, but I'm fuzzy on details, except learning about the
Senate controlling government supply, which fact emerged when I read
about the 1975 constitutional crisis.)
If the Australian population became too disgusted with
the 2 major
parties there's no reason why there couldn't be an independent
candidate elected in every electorate and those MPs could then vote on
who becomes PM. That situation is unlikely to such a degree that it's
almost impossible but there's nothing in the constitution preventing
In general, the Westminster system _generally_ proves to be quite
resilient and responsive. And certainly, there is far less of a
Duvenger's Law problem (and particularly less in Australia specifically,
on account of IRV).
And last, of course, the Westminster system is easy to understand, which
cannot be said of USA voting. (US voters would disagree, but solely on
account of ignorance.)
[US political parties govern themselves]
The fact that they have differences in the primary
doesn't help the US political system. While it would be possible to
debate the relative merits of the Republican and Democratic processes
in that regard I think that it would be best if they both operated in
the same way.
Doubtless true, but legal, political, and historical realities are such
that there's no credible way to force an end to those differences, so
they are part of what make electoral mechanics complex in the USA. For
example, the Democratic Party has superdelegates (party regulars who
will attend the national convention as delegates without being pledged
to vote for a particular candidate on the first ballot), while the
Republican Party does not.
Also, each of the fifty states is free to conduct its primary elections
entirely as it pleases, _and_ also each party within each state is free
to conduct its primary-election affairs as it pleases within limits set
by the state's government (which, after all, is paying for the balloting).
To my annoyance, news reporting typically behaves as if those
complexities don't exist, and reduce electoral results to sports
metaphors. For example, if you read about yesterday's primary election
in Wisconsin, you probably read that the despicable Cruz 'won' the
Republican Party primary, and Sanders 'won' the Democratic Party one,
and wasting a lot of verbiage talking about 'momentum' and about
percentages of the vote count statewide.
This is partly nonsense, as neither party's primary in Wisconsin awards
delegates on a winner-take-all basis, and what matters is delegate
Wisconsin has eight Congressional districts. The Republican primary's
voters in each district select three convention delegate pledged to
whatever candidate wins a plurality in that district (for a total of
24), and 18 at-large delegates are selected pledged to whatever
candidate wins a plurality of votes statewide -- for a total of 42
As it turned out, because of the despicable Cruz's narrow plurality lead
over Trump in all the diverse parts of that state, all 42 delegates went
Meanwhile, in the Democratic Party primary, 86 delegates were selected
pledged to candidates (Clinton, Sanders, and O'Malley, though O'Malley
has suspended his campaign) proportional to their voting percentages,
subject to a 15% threshold (minimum vote to receive any delegates), with
some delegates being selected according to statewide voting percentages
and others selected according to voting percentages in the eight
Congressional districts. (This allocation is according to one site I
consulted -- which could be mistaken.) And ten 'superdelegates' are
sent unpledged, for a total of 96 from the state.
As it turned out, Sanders eked out over Clinton in at least most of the
eight districts and statewide, and it's likely that he'll get 48
pledged delegates and Clinton 36. (Numbers are approximate, on account
of preliminary nature of data.)
Wisconsin imposes an 'open' primary on all parties: Voters may choose
on election day to choose which party's primary they wish to participate
in. It also requires all parties to permit each voter, if he/she
wishes, to cast a vote for an 'uninstructed delegation', meaning
selecting an unpledged delegate (generally selected by party regulars)
who would then attend the convention and represent the state any way
Given the prevailing idiocy elsewhere in the press, FiveThirtyEight is
the best place to follow this and other aspects of the 2016 election
The difference between the Labor and Liberal parties
seems to be
mainly based on the union involvement with Labor.
I gather that this has always been the case.
The UK Labour party is a very curious beast, post-Thatcher. It's
unclear what if anything it stands for, any more.
Even without that we don't have many seats won by
people who aren't
representing the major parties in Australia. That's mainly due to
publicity and financing. But unfortunately there are Australians who
don't realise that the "wasted vote" thing applies to the US only.
Well, no, that's not true. It is a problem in many corners of even the
Westminster system. It's basically true in any constituency that
applies first-past-the-post voting.
Let's say you were a UK citizen living near Heathrow Airport (west of
London). You'd get to vote for councillors of the Hillingdon Council,
for the London Assembly member for Ealing Borough and Hillingdon
Borough, for the mayor of Greater London, for the MP for the Hayes and
Harlington constituency, and for the Greater London area's single EU
Parliament representative. In most of those geographical constituencies
(not sure about the Greater London area as a whole), Labour Party has an
ongoing voting edge.
As a LibDem voter, or Conservative, or UKIP, living near Heathrow, your
votes for your party lists are inevitably 'wasted votes', in the sense
that you are pretty much guaranteed to be outvoted by the Labour turnout
within your geographical constituency.
IRV would at least partially fix this situation, of course.
And there are a _lot_ of other big problems -- serious distortions and
disenfranchisements -- in the UK's Westminster mechanics. You really
should see CGP Grey's explanation:
I'm reasonably sure similar problems occur in any Westminster system
that relies on local districts implementing first past the post. Which
means Oz does better. Which is why I've been an IRV proponent for eons.
BTW, I recommend CGP Grey's videos generally. The man has a questing mind.
(Despite the Yank accent, he's
a Irish citizen, FWIW.)
[California 'top two primary':]
I've just read that. How does it make things
better? Instead of a
first past the post with multiple candidates in the general election
you have first 2 past the post in the primary.
It helps by forcing all state candidates to appeal during the primary
election season to _all_ voters and not just narrow constituencies.
Extremists of all types will have a more difficult time prevailing at
the primary stage to pass along to the subsequent general election --
because they will appeal insufficiently to voters in the middle of the
Bell Curve of ideological and other voting criteria.
The web page says that you might have 2 candidates
from 1 party, but
unless I'm missing something that doesn't seem likely to happen often
except in cases where an electorate reliably gets well in excess of
66% votes for one party. But I guess it makes sense to have this in
those cases. How many electorates are dominated by one party to that
There are some pronounced regional biases. The biggest urban areas in
California are the San Francisco Bay Area that includes Silicon Valley
(heavily Democratic), Los Angeles (same), the Orange County city cluster
just south of Los Angeles (heavily Republican) and San Diego (mixed).
All other cities are relatively small, and many probably have party
skews but have much less voting power. The very large agricultural
Central Valley is heavily Republican (except in some of its cities), but
its sparse population means also low voting power. The state as a whole
skews strongly to the Democratic Party in most matters, with some
Taking only a single vote for the primary seems to
have the same issue
as only taking a single vote for the main election in the current
system regarding "wasted votes". If the primary has 4 candidates (2
from each major party) then it should work quite well in terms of
allowing candidates to choose the better option from each party. But
it doesn't allow people to support their favorite major party while
also expressing a preference for a candidate from the other major
If you are saying IRV would be an improvement, I've been maintaining
that for about four decades. ;->
This is another issue where technology could change
example it would be possible to have the constitution require that the
total length of electoral boundaries in the state be no greater than
30% more than the optimum fit determined by computer. Without
computers it's probably not possible to get something close to an
In time, perhaps. For now, I'm happy that California voters have grown
to trust the redistricting commission, and that the latter's done a
creditable and trustworthy job.
It is very difficult to get voters to try something new that they don't
intuitively grasp and trust. Last year's WSFS voting for the Hugo
Awards had an influx of new voters, and it was frustratingly difficult
to get many of them to understand how IRV works and affects voting
mechanics and tactics. (Technically, this was two related voting blocs,
but I'm trying to simplify this recounting.)
Essentially, there was an organised effort at bloc voting, attempting
to overwhelm traditional Hugo Award voters by 'brigading' particular
categories such as Best Novel, Best Editor Short Form, etc. In the
nominations phase, five nominees per category get selected, and the
voting bloc managed to completely swamp (IIRC) five categories because
other voters' choices were diverse and got pushed off by the bloc's five
nominees ('slates'), because each category was filled by the five
plurality leaders, those five nominated works or persons with the
highest nomination count. (The bloc put individual entries into some
other categories but did not overwhelm those categories' five nomination
The dominated categories were many of the most important Hugo Awards:
Best Novella, Best Short Story, Best Related Work, Best Editor Short
Form, and Best Editor Long Form.
The final ballot, however, was IRV, with the choice of 'No Award' always
being also a votable option for each category. Some bloc voters did not
(it seems) understand IRV at all, and were stunned to discover that
brigading cannot work without far greater voting strength than they had.
Traditional Hugo Award voters had high turnout for the final ballot and
utterly annihilated the bloc voting slates: In all five bloc-dominated
categories, voters selected 'No Award' on the first IRV pass, and not a
single bloc-endorsed nominee got an award in any of the 16 Hugo Award
categories. Sitting through the awards ceremony in Spokane, as my wife
Deirdre and I did, was electrifying.
The bloc voters generally failed to understand any of this, and have
issued an unending wail of protest against many parts of it, including
claiming that 'No Award' deprived them of some sort of entitlement.
Cynicism aside, it's quite possible that this is genuine failure to
grasp the voting system in question rather than just sour grapes.
Anyway, the larger point is: It is difficult to introduce voting
innovations voters cannot easily understand and trust.
Perhaps less so in California than in many places, because ideas both
good and bad get cheerfully voted in here, first. We're stuck with
term limits for that reason, for example. Call it California craziness,
low impulse threshold, whatever you want to label it; we try things.
(There are limits to what Californians can tinker with, though:
Neither the 'top two' voting provision nor term limits apply to
the Federal offices of US Senator, US House of Representatives, and
President / Vice-President, as California jurisdiction cannot override