More Merits of
Two Views on the Purpose of ElectionsA) "An election should give representation to the range of opinions in the electorate. Give them a forum to debate and refine policies for the common good." This view emphasizes the integrating purpose of elections and representative committees.
B) "The goal of an election is to give one group the power to rule. Give them a clear mandate to resolve necessary choices." We could call that the dominance purpose of an election.
This view risks turning into dictatorship: If the biggest party should dominate a government, should the biggest subgroup control the biggest party? And should the biggest sub- subgroup... 1 side, 1 party, 1 faction, 1 leader.
Compromises must be made at some level, even if that is in the mind of one person. Any one-party government enacts compromise policies, although the process may be secretive. Democrats hold that political decisions are better when many minds work together, when the options are debated in public from many points of view, and when power is fairly distributed.
The historic trend has been toward inclusive democracy. The Magna Charta gave England's nobles the right to advise their king. Later, all men who owned land won the right to vote for representation in parliament. In the United States, land was cheap and all white men had the right to vote; the 15th Amendment extended that right to men of color in 1870, and the 19th Amendment gave suffrage to women in 1920. Now all stable democracies recognize the minority citizen's right to vote. But a few fail to recognize the minority voter's right to representation. This is most common in English-speaking countries because they are the oldest democracies -- with the oldest voting rules.
PR often gives no party a majority of seats. Critics say this leads to weak, indecisive governments. Yet even a legislature with a majority party can be indecisive if reps vote freely and use majority rule, as in the U.S. Congress. But when reps vote by Condorcet's rule, they can quickly find a new majority coalition for each issue. Then there is no ruling group, no powerless group and no failure to resolve necessary choices.
PR has been said to favor extremists. One fact refuting that charge is illustrated by the gray ring on the chart from PoliticalSim™ It encloses only about 50% of the simulated voters. But it usually includes 100% of the reps from PR elections for 7 seats or less. Moderates on or just inside that statistical line routinely beat candidates from the outer half of the electorate. So, compared with the electorate, these councils are not too inclusive.
The next chapter will present a simple way to make councils even more moderate.
More Merits of PR, GeographyPoliticians often gerrymander the boundaries of Single-Winner Districts (SWD) to pick voters before voters pick reps. The liberal party designs districts with a liberal majority of voters. In exchange, the conservative party designs districts with a conservative majority. This creates a “safe seat” for one candidate. It gives rivals no chance so voters get no real choices. Gerrymanders are easy and common with one-winner districts but not with a few big multi-winner districts.
A SWD can be competitive due to its political diversity, or representative due to its uniformity. It can't be both.
Single-Winner Districts require a jurisdiction to redistrict itself every  years.
PR empowers like-minded people who are spread out over a large region to band together to elect a rep. So representation may be based on issues and values as well as geography. The voters decide which criteria are important.
One-winner districts exaggerate a state's or nation's regional differences. In the North a liberal majority may win all of the seats, while in the South, a liberal minority wins none. Then the majority party disregards the needs of opposition regions.
Where each major party dominates its own region, regional laws, policies and political cultures may diverge or at least remain fractured despite the homogenization of consumer markets. Conflict at the national level may rise.
One-winner rules drive a rep to put pork for her small district above the greater good. In contrast, PR makes parties campaign for votes everywhere, not just in the few hard-fought swing districts targeted under one-winner rules. So PR parties interested in re-election must serve the needs of voters everywhere.
PR lets minority voters show they strong enough to win a council seat. That may win some respect from authoritarians who above all fear association with weakness.
PR limits the anti-democratic effects of unequal campaign funds. In district or at-large plurality elections, one side can win each seat if they catch the interest of the swing voters, and costly TV ads help attract these voters. PR minimizes that. No matter how much money a party spends, it can't win all the votes and all the PR seats. So PR candidates may feel less pressure to raise campaign funds and serve those sponsors.
Some voting rules such as Condorcet or STV make candidates seek second as well as first choice votes — which probably increases the backlash from negative ads because voters committed to the garbage target will decide not to give a high rank to the garbage thrower. Any PR system lets undecided voters (and those supporting other candidates) reject the thrower because there are other candidates likely to win seats.
Unfortunately PR rules usually produce no central party and the two biggest parties usually refuse to work together. The side with the most seats forms a ruling majority which then enacts policies skewed toward their side. The ensemble councils explained in the next chapter can do better.
This chapter compares the results of recent elections by plurality and PR to see their affects on women seeking office next.
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Turnout & policies
Picture tally 1, 2
by PR plus