Dikes and Votes: Consensus government and flood control

There was an item on National Public Radio this afternoon about California turning to the Netherlands for flood-control expertise. The basic premise was that, whereas the Netherlands has known how to deal with the problem of rising floodwaters throughout its history, California is just getting started in preparing for the rising sea levels stemming from global warming, which threaten the low lands of the state’s Delta region.

In discussing the challenges in California of reconciling conflicting interests and the myriad government agencies–state and federal–that have a stake in this policy, we hear Jeffrey Mount, a geologist at the University of California, Davis, say that:

You have this situation in California where we are a bunch of consensus wimps. And frankly this is one of those problems where there’ll be winners and losers, and we’re never going to come up with consensus in this.

Of course, there are few policies that do not produce winners and losers. In the Netherlands, on the other hand:

They’re actually cognizant that they’re on a trajectory of change. And they’re trying to adapt to that change. Rather than simply trying to make it work for today, they’re trying to make it work for tomorrow as well.

But the invocation of the Netherlands as a contrasting case to California’s over-reliance on “consensus” is an odd one to any of us who are familiar with the literature on comparative democracy. The Netherlands, after all, is one of the paradigmatic cases of “consociational” and “consensus” democracy, both concepts pioneered by my colleague, Arend Lijphart (who happens to be Dutch).

So, if the Dutch are really so much better at making tough choices on this (or any) issue that we wimpy Californians, the problem must not lie in consensus decision-making, per se, but somewhere else.

The Netherlands is, of course, a parliamentary democracy with one of the world’s most proportional electoral systems: 150 seats elected nationwide, with a 0.67% threshold to win a seat. Those are the institutional bases of its broad multiparty governments, and its consensus politics. It has numerous parties that span the ideological spectrum, and each of them is quite centralized and disciplined. Currently, the largest party in the Dutch parliament has only 27.3% of the seats. The government is a coalition of that party, another with 22% and a third that has 4% of the seats in parliament. Consensus government–all three parties are “veto players”–but they have a bare majority in a parliament that has minimal checks on its authority to make legislations. ((There is an upper house, elected indirectly, and with some authority, but its composition does not differ fundamentally in partisan terms from the lower house.))

California, on the other hand, a fairly prototypical presidential system. In fact, it really is a presidential system on steroids–not because its “president” (the Governor) is so powerful, but because, as is the nature of presidential democracy, power is fragmented and shared among several institutions. Given federalism, it is further fragmented and shared between state and federal governments. Legislators owe relatively little to party programs for their election, and much to their ability to cater to moneyed interests or organized blocs of voters in their narrow (and almost always noncompetitive) districts. Both California and the US federal structure do not merely require consensus, they offer a worst of both worlds: Multiple access points for organized interests with narrow demands, and super-majority decision-making through various two-thirds vote requirements and, in state government, the recourse to ballot initiatives by interest groups unhappy with what they are getting from the legislature and executive.

Don’t blame consensus per se–as if imposition by some chimerical benevolent central authority were the answer to all our tough problems. Rather, blame the specific institutions that fragment representation among multiple veto gates–that is, no single representative institution (like the Dutch party-centered parliament) being able to make hammer out policy compromises acceptable to the majority without being subject to vetoes by other, separate, institutions. Blame the absence of collective responsibility, the failure of the representation process to aggregate broad interests, the institutionalized short-sightedness of term-limited executives and legislators. Blame any number of features of our policy-making process, but not our “wimpy” seeking of consensus.

Yes, Californians could learn a lot from the Dutch. Not only about how to deal with flooding, but in how to build a policy-making process that makes consensus “for tomorrow as well.”
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Tom Round has an excellent comment below; I agree with the essence of his well thought-out arguments.
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0 thoughts on “Dikes and Votes: Consensus government and flood control

  1. This seems to be a point of departure among those who reject the ideal-type Westminster “concentrate maximum power in a single body elected by plurality for a lengthy term” model.

    Some (MSS, myself, the Dutch) believe in having one clearly supreme body, which normally decides by majority, but which is structured to proportionately represent all the persons affected.

    The US approach, on the other hand, is to fragment power among a number of different bodies, elected for differing terms and from overlapping constituencies, but each dominated by a plurality of its votes (however weighted).

    Thus, a typical US State will have devices such as bicameralism, overlapping upper/ lower house districts, rotation of terms, term limits, and separate elections for various Executive/ Cabinet positions… but no PR.

    Thus the irony of conservative US commentators arguing against PR on the grounds it could – yes, you guessed it – produce unstable government and minority-dominated coalitions. In the USA. (Yes, John Fund and Radek Sikorski have both said exactly that. In “National Review” circa 1990-91, if memory serves).

    In my humble opinion, and that of other scholars, the US approach is an 18th-century attempt to solve problems that could not really be solved until PR was devised in the 19th century. For example, rotation of terms – as a way to avoid windscreen-wiper landslides and opposition party wipeouts, as occurred in some US States in the early 1800s – is better than winner-take-all simultaneous block vote, but worse than PR, as Hoag & Hallett wrote in 1922. Likewise, Michael Lind has argued that having multiple elective Exec positions is an attempt to ensure power-sharing across parties and coalitions – again, something that is only haphazardly achieved if you use state-wide first past the post. (Filipino experience suggests you’re more likely to get an opposing President and Veep through vote-splitting – if there are three leading candidates for one office but only two for the other – than through voters’ conscious preferences for power-sharing).

    The other problem with using cross-cutting minority rule to thwart dominance by the overall plurality is that you need to decide – and, usually, constitutionally entrench – which minority groups get “their own” institution that they can dominate and use to veto other groups. Thus the irony of conservative US commentators arguing against PR (or cumulative voting, as advocated by Lani Guinier) – why, Blacks are only 13% of America! They should get used to being outvoted! – while staunchly defending the small-State bias of the Senate and Electoral College. Whereas if you use PR – especially nationwide List, like the Dutch and South Africans – you don’t need to decide in advance which groups are favoured. The vegetarian Catholic homeschoolers can form their own party – and have it win seats – if they feel they’re unrepresented.

    (Caveat that some List systems with a supra-quota threshold, like Germany and – IIRC – NZ and Denmark, waive the threshold for very small parties that represent ethnic minorities. Which then opens the question again, as to why some minorities deserve a seat for every quota they number nationwide, but others don’t).

  2. Bicameralism in the states (all but Nebraska, which is unicameral) has been close to meaningless since Baker v. Carr outlawed malapportionment. I am not sure whether most states had both houses malapportioned or just the “upper,” but the argument for privileged small-territorial representation in an “upper” house in a state would be based on the same argument as the so-called Great Compromise that gave us rotten boroughs like Wyoming and Alaska in the US Senate.

    There are, of course, a few countries with bicameral systems yet little difference in the electoral constituencies of the two houses. But not many (the Netherlands is one of them). Yet there are 49 such jurisdictions in the USA.

    Is there really any argument for bicameralism in the US states?

  3. Several of Tom’s points really are worth emphasizing.

    1. The US approach is an 18th-century attempt to solve problems that could not really be solved until PR was devised in the 19th century.

    I make a similar argument in my page on Henry Droop. Nonetheless, it is worth asking whether Delaware and the other small states at the founding could have been mollified by PR, had the idea of proportional representation of political parties (rather than merely of state populations) been in existence at the time. I doubt it. But Madison certainly had the right idea: Ensuring deliberation among multiple minorities by (quoting Tom again now) “having one clearly supreme body, which normally decides by majority.”

    2. The other problem with using cross-cutting minority rule to thwart dominance by the overall plurality is that you need to decide – and, usually, constitutionally entrench – which minority groups get “their own” institution that they can dominate and use to veto other groups.

    Exactly. The US form of “consensus” institutions gives minority vetoes to those that were there first, or whose pattern of geographic distribution coincides with those that were there first and thus able to entrench over-representation and vetoes. Madison understood, in Federalist 10 and his Virginia Plan, that the key to protecting minorities was to ensure that no one would be permanently in the minority or majority, that they would shift over time and across issues. For that, one has to have a single dominant decision making institution (the House of Representatives). And electing said body by PR is the logical extension of the argument.

    3. having multiple elective Exec positions is an attempt to ensure power-sharing across parties and coalitions – again, something that is only haphazardly achieved if you use state-wide first past the post.

    In the main planting, I was going to mention this oddity, but decided not to do so. The Filipino separation of President and VP election is the only such case that I know of elsewhere (it also existed in Brazil’s post-1945 democracy), but many US states, including California, have a plethora of elected executive positions. Very weird, and I wish some neo-Madisonian scholar would tackle the question of their origin and impact, particularly the extent to which, despite often being of the same party and always being distributed among the same two parties, they actually do (or do not) represent different electoral coalitions. I suspect they do, but not as transparently as would be the case if different executive functions were held by distinctive political parties in majority-coalition governments.

  4. This post shows one of the major barriers to ever getting proportional representation in America: it is perceived as foreign, not just because a lot of foreign countries use proportional systems, but because many of its advocates favor it precisely for being foreign. It doesn’t help matter that you nominally take Madison’s original proposal as your starting place; aside from waving away 200 years of history, you choose it because it’s the starting place which most resembles Continental systems, and from your nominal starting place you make a straight line towards the Continental systems proper. Which is to say that with almost no cover you begin and end with Continental-style parliamentarism.

    It’s not clear that a Continental system would work as well as you say. I understand that you get impatient with the argument that “it could – yes, you guessed it – produce unstable government and minority-dominated coalitions”. But some of them did, and merely pointing out ones that didn’t isn’t a good enough answer. You need be to be able to explain what distinguishes stable parliamentary systems from unstable ones and demonstrate why America would be a stable one.

    I rather doubt we would see a stable system. The common denominator I see in the unstable systems is that a large portion of the popultion rejected the parliamentary system itself, and that these people were represented by correspondingly large parliamentary fractions who could not be brought into government without ending the parliamentary system. Which means that a supermajority of the remaining parties were required to form a majority. In Europe they were people who rejected democracy itself, while in America they would be partisans of the Presidential system. If enough of the other parties were only weakly (or not at all) committed to parliamentarism, your American parliament might simply vote to replace itself with revivals of the traditional three branches; otherwise, we would see the kind of instability experienced by some of the European countries.

    America might also produce novel forms of instability, because we might not be inclined to (or even be temperamentally capable of) organizing ourselves into the kind of disciplined parties parliamentary government requires.

    Second, even if we did form stable parliamentary government, it’s not clear we would — or should — like it. What I mean is that by definition a stable parliamentary government is an elected dictatorship. The only deliberations that matter or can matter are the ones involving the Prime Minister’s close associates. Interesting, one of the first American political scientists to write at length alleging the superiority of parliamentarism was Woodrow Wilson, and his explicit argument was that the President should have legislative powers. As President, when he wasn’t busy imprisoning his critics, he invented the executive regulatory rulemaking power.

    You could mount a Bagehottean argument that an imperial Prime Minister is more likely to be a “good emperor” than an imperial President, and there’s a lot to that argument. The process of working up from the back benches selects against the kinds of temperaments that would make bad emperors. This assumes a stability which as I explained above probably wouldn’t exist in an American context. But the more important objection is to the fact of having an emperor at all. A serious deliberative body means a serious committee system, which creates an opportunity for a breadth and depth of deliberation that executive decisionmaking cannot match.

    Bringing all this back around to my initial concern for the prospects for proportional representation in America, there are so many comparatively modest reforms which would help our “Congressional system” grow closer to what it should be, starting with increasing the size of the House and switching to STV, that are recognizably improvements on our native institutions rather than mere importations.

  5. Increasing the size of the House (and state legislatures) is something I have advocated here many times, Aaron. And, of course, STV is a form of PR (and one that would be an “importation” inasmuch as it was invented in the British Isles).

    On the other hand, the d’Hondt and Ste. Laguë methods of list PR actually were invented in the USA (by Webster and Jefferson), albeit for a different purpose (apportioning House delegations to states).

    Any voter who votes this year in a Democratic presidential primary–and some who will vote in Republican primaries–will vote in a partially (list) PR system. So, evidently, it is not a foreign idea, common perceptions notwithstanding.

  6. Oh, and one isn’t likely to get “elected dictatorship” out of parliamentarism if one has PR, nor is “unstable” government the normal outcome of PR-parliamentarism. Really, these are tired arguments, though some never tire of making them.

    On the stability point, Aaron says:

    “But some of them did [produce ‘instability’], and merely pointing out ones that didn’t isn’t a good enough answer. You need be to be able to explain what distinguishes stable parliamentary systems from unstable ones and demonstrate why America would be a stable one.”

    That is actually a very fair point. I have addressed this previously (see the ‘PR-USA’ and ‘PR’ blocks). There is much more to be said on these points, of course. And on the European systems and sources of “instability” (understood as short-duration cabinets) there is a vast literature in political science.

  7. I’m not sure why you felt I needed to be reminded that STV is a form of PR. I would have thought it was clear I was writing as an advocate of PR who wants to focus of reforms that extend or improve upon the arrangements we have right now. Surely I wouldn’t have forgotten how STV works in a day, unless I was the victim of a massive head injury. But then dialogue with me would become unrewarding, no?

    That STV was devised by an Englishman and some apportionment methods were invented both here and in Europe hardly makes list-PR less foreign in any relevant sense. And please, don’t call them “methods of list PR”, since we both know (and you went on to say) that the apportionment in America had nothing to do with party lists. STV has a history of use in America, and the only “problem” ever discovered was the fact that it elected an occasional black person or socialist. The only example you can bring of list-PR in America is, interestingly, the current Presidential election. I also recall several attempts at introducing it in the general election to divide a state’s electoral votes. Which is to say that list-PR is only taken seriously by Americans when we already believe that the individuals involved are not to be doing any deliberation but only formalizing what is in reality a popular election (albeit a popular election whose results are sometimes distorted by the method used to formalize it). Using list-PR in legislative elections, especially in the context of a parliamentary system, means that the assembly becomes an electoral college, which means it cannot be a deliberative body. I know that the current Congress is unpopular, but I see no gain in turning it into a copy of an even less popular part of the government.

    I must leave, so I’ll write my surrejoinder to your second reply later.

  8. I saw this intriguing factoid for this first time today…

    ‘… Q: What was [the late William F] Buckley’s view of the current Bush administration? … A: He was most distressed by it and once said if the United States had a parliamentary system, President Bush would be subject to a “no confidence” vote…’

    – Sam Tanenhaus, “Q&A on William F Buckley,” New York Times (27 February 2008), http://tinyurl.com/26hrjw.

    … and tried to source WFB’s statement more precisely, but the closest Google would give me was several variations on Ed Rollins (a top political adviser to President Ronald Reagan), in March 2006, saying of the Bush Administrations Dubai ports defeat that: “If this was a European parliamentary system, it would have been a vote of no-confidence.”

    I do believe Gore Vidal, in “The Second American Revolution”, argued for the superiority of no-confidence motions by pointing out that Joe Clark in Canada lasted on a few months after being discredited in 1979, while Jimmy Carter stayed in office for years longer, until January 1981. Of course I don’t think Vidal liked Mr Carter’s replacement as much as he liked the more northerly JC’s.

  9. > [AA] “That STV was devised by an Englishman and some apportionment methods were invented both here and in Europe hardly makes list-PR less foreign in any relevant sense. And please, don’t call them “methods of list PR”, since we both know (and you went on to say) that the apportionment in America had nothing to do with party lists.”

    I’d have to award AA one point here against MS. Ie, merely using – to apportion seats among States, before votes are cast – a mathematical formula that’s used overseas to apportion seats among parties after votes are cast, doesn’t necessarily commit a polity to favour an electoral system that apportions seats among parties after votes are cast (ie, lists).

    Just as, I suppose, the fact that the US uses first-past-the-post voting to allocate seats among candidates after votes are cast, doesn’t mean it’s inconsistent by not allocating 435 Representatives to California and zero to each other State.

    (I still part ways with AA over whether a list-elected legislature can be a truly deliberative body or just an electoral college. And I’m – as noted before – a shill for STV: check Google).

  10. Ahem, to say that STV, often known as Hare-Clark in these parts, was invented by an Englishman rather ignores the contribution of Andrew Inglis Clark and a few others. The notion of transferring votes belongs to Hare. Fractional transfers and later refinements like Robson Rotation were invented much later.

  11. I’ve long been used to Australian journalists writing about “the Crown” when they mean “the prosecution” in US (and Indonesian) criminal trials, but this takes it one step further…

    “New York’s push to introduce a new traffic tax to counter city congestion has stalled. The state parliament’s House of Assembly yesterday defied mayor Michael Bloomberg…”

    – Ian Munro, “New York’s parliament kills tax on congestion,” Melbourne Age (9 April 2008) http://tinyurl.com/4833nn

    Next: the presidential race between the Earl of McCain, the Duke of Obama and the Marquess Clinton!

  12. Not to put too fine a point on matters of protocol, Tom, but surely you mean the Marchioness or Marquise of Clinton. And let us not forget the mercifully brief attempt to refer to Annabelle Rankine, when she was first elected to the federal upper house, as a senatrix.

  13. Alan, I stand corrected. But Dame Annabelle was Rankin, unless you mean Rankine as the feminine version, like adding an -ah in Hebrew.

    As late as the mid-1980s one would read law reports referring to “the prosecutrix”.

  14. We have a diking / flood control district in Grays River Washington with an interesting election system.

    Ballots are distributed according to how much land the taxpayer owns. Every property owner in the district is granted two votes. Then, according to RCW 85.08.025 – “Each qualified voter of a diking improvement or drainage improvement district who owns more than ten acres of land within the district shall be entitled to two additional votes for each ten acres or major fraction thereof located within the district, up to a maximum total of forty votes for any voter, or in the case of community property, a maximum total of twenty votes per member of the marital community.”

    A corporation, partnership, family trust or government entity can also vote. They need to designate a “natural person” to cast their ballots.

    This type of election conjures two prominent phrases from the American vernacular. One might think that weighted ballots are a violation of One Person, One Vote. Another might believe the system protects against Taxation Without Representation. Each is seeking Equal Protection and what you think is fair can be a matter of your own self-interest. 

    • Great to see Krist here! That’s quite an odd system, but I suspect there are various such examples “under the radar” in local infrastructure boards.

      (Hope you will visit often.)

  15. The US Supreme Court has (in cases like Tulane) upheld as constitutional weighted-voting or plural-voting systems for special-purpose bodies that are confined to a single subject-matter of power, like water boards. Query though whether a state could validly institute “one school-age child, one vote” for school district boards. The Supremes went the other way when they ruled in favour of Mr Kraemer the “bachelor stockbroker”.

    I suppose the extension of this logic is that a State legislature, or even a city council, with general power to legislate over most matters of life within its borders has to be one person, one vote, since (say) even if A uses much more irrigation water than B, B may well have more children than A, etc etc, so the inequalities cancel out (or become so blurred as to be un-administrable). But even then it’s usually considered tolerable – not necessarily ideal, but not morally comparable to Jim Crow either – to deny the vote to non-citizens, especially those not permanent residents. When I visited DC for a week, I had some definite opinions about its public transport system, but my stake in the matter was not (I’d agree myself) enough to entitle me to a vote for the DC council.

    And now that’s a second reason to associate “children, money and water” with Mr Novoselic.

  16. Thanks for the kind words and good information.

    I want to get a resolution in the State Grange about tweaking the diking district elections. The law needs to have a cumulative component – a voter should get up to 39 votes, and distribute them how they wish on any of the three board seats.

    In an election in our district a couple of years ago, the whole board were on the ballots. (Yes ballots – as the county gives each voter as many as they’re entitled to, up to 40!) Serving on the board is a volunteer job where county commissioners would usually have to fill by appointment. There are contentious issues in Grays River, WA over salmon recovery and other things. Anyway, the county finally treated all the seats as vacancy appointments and that led to each of the three commission seats drawing a challenger in the filing period.

    Our Grange had six votes – two for each seat. The Grange can’t endorse candidates, but because of this unique law, we wanted to meet our civic duty and vote. So we had a secret ballot election within our group where the secretary and one other person were sworn to secrecy. They counted the ballots and went to vote. I have no idea how the Grange voted, but we had a good turnout for our internal election. (The yummy meal drew many!)

    The appointed incumbents swept the election. This was a faction in the community that arose from the issues mentioned. The other faction, who stood the challengers, lost all three head-to-head contests.

    I did some math and figured that under a CV method, the losing faction would have won a seat if they had stood one candidate. That means the majority in the district would have still won the board, but the minority would be at the table. Things are polarized and including the other side, would be positive. I believe this because there are good people among both and there’s something to be said about facing each other in a formal setting.

    But even with putting the warm and fuzzy aside, there are a lot of people who lost that pay taxes into the district and are subject to the rule of the board. Don’t they deserve a voice? That’s a basic notion of PR.

    I am going to look into the Tulane ruling as part of the package for the resolution as people need to see this kind of weighted voting is indeed constitutional. Is there a link to the decision?

    • Fascinating!

      One thing, though: I fight against the notion all the time that cumulative vote is PR. It’s not. Of course, it’s still better than giving voters as many votes (or ballots!) as there are seats to fill.

  17. > “giving voters as many votes (or ballots!) as there are seats to fill”

    Point of terminology. As a matter of selling PR, I try not to frame it as “a single vote” vs “as many votes as there are seats to be filled” (for MNTV) or “as there are candidates” (for Approval). Viewed correctly, STV gives the voter a huge number of points (eg, 10 million in an Australian Senate election, because calculations of transfer values are taken to the eighth decimal place) with no restriction on how they can be cumulated or dispersed among the candidates, as long as it helps elect as many as possible of your highest-preferred candidates. Same for List-PR as long as your preference order is compatible with one of the pre-registered party lists (whether candidates are ranked according to position on the list, personal votes received, or some combination of the two).

    Viewed in this light, if both STV and MNTV give you 10,000,000 points in a five-seat election (List-PR being functionally the same as STV, and Approval functionally the same as MNTV, for present purposes), then MNTV only allows you to give 2,000,000 points – no more, no fewer – to any given candidate, and if you vote for only (say) three candidates, then you’ve thrown away 4,000,000 of your points for nothing. By contrast, STV ensures that if you need to, you can cumulate all ten million of your points on your most-preferred viable candidate to help them get elected.

    (Cumulative, taking this further, is better than MNTV but worse than STV: it enables you to give either 2 million, 4 million, 6 million, 8 million or 10 million points to a particular candidate, but this may be too many or too few to maximise your preference satisfaction in a particular election).

    • That’s a useful perspective indeed, Tom. I especially like your charge against cumulative voting (notwithstanding that it’s a parenthetical point). I agree that CV is a form of MNTV.

      MNTV, for the uninitiated, means Multiple Non-Transferable Votes, hence any system in which the voter may cast some number of votes greater than 1, and the winners are the M with the highest personal vote totals.

      In my general use of the term, I also typically restrict it to systems where it is also the case that M>1, and the maximum number of votes is capped somewhere between 2 and M. However, I agree with Tom’s point that Approval Vote also belongs to the same category: multiple votes, M=1, winner is candidate with the most votes.

  18. For a Canadian, all this discussion — “as is the nature of presidential democracy, power is fragmented and shared among several institutions” and “cross-cutting minority rule to thwart dominance by the overall plurality” — is very foreign. We wrote our 1867 constitution under fear of another American invasion like that of 1812, by the triumphant northern Yankees after the Civil War. We didn’t want to fragment power, although we did need a federal system to reflect the needs of the four founding entities, but mostly we needed strong institutions in order to survive, stronger than our attempts in 1791 and 1840. It worked; despite American manifest destiny, we survived, and our French heritage survived in “this immense sea of saxonising Americanism” as Henri Bourassa famously said.

    Sorry to interrupt; carry on with your checks and balances.

  19. Thanks, MSS (I seem to be hoovering up* the gold stars on this thread!). It is annoying when some critics of STV make much of the “you only get a SINGLE vote!” argument, when this is no more than a handy accounting device. “Flexibly Cumulable Transferable Vote” would be a better selling point, as opposed to “Inflexibly Cumulable Non[-]Transferable Vote” (nee Cumulative) and “Non[-]Cumulable Non[-]Transferable Vote” (ie MNTV, whether Limited Vote, One-X-Per-Seat,** or Approval). But then electoral reformers have never been terribly good in the soundbite department. The PR Soc of Aust has found that “quota-preferential” gets some traction with Australians, at least politically literate ones.

    One critic managed to attack STV on this ground (“if you are filling five seats, you would naturally expect to get five votes”) in the very same monograph as s/he supported MMP on the ground it was much more proportional than STV. (Even though MMP, with only 1/498 as many votes as seats, offends against this supposed natural right even more egregiously than does STV, which allows 1/5 or 1/7 as many votes as seats).

    In addition, STV allows you to support far more candidates than “one-X-per-seat” MNTV does. Approval, like STV, lets you support as many candidates as you like*** and put a particularly detested individual last, but doesn’t let you show gradations of preference: Churchill, de Gaulle and Stalin all get an equal tick if you want to keep Hitler out.

    * In the UK/ US sense, not the Canadian. I understand that JK Rowling’s insistence that her Harry Potter books be unchanged for the North American edition led to some raised eyebrows among Canadians with sentences such as “Mrs Weasley was hoovering when they arrived”…

    ** MSS doesn’t like my using “block vote” for this method. But if MNTV can include Limited Vote (other than SNTV), then it logically also includes Approval, and we need a more specific term. “Maximum-one-X-per-seat” for the US/ UK version, “Exactly-one-X-per-seat” for the Australian variant (well, technically one numbers X candidates, but same mechanics).

    *** Assuming no excrescences such as the Australian “number every candidate” rule.

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