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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Primary Elections and the Parties

Kad Barma is dead set against political parties.  My view is that even if we made them go away at the polls, they would still be self-generating in the legislature, as sides, over time, maneuvered for power.

Here is a blog post that suggests a problem with too pure a democratic system.  The subject is Afghan elections, but I thought this part was interesting:
In 2005 there were so many people running for parliament in many districts that the winner may only have obtained a small percentage of the vote. In Kabul, for instance, 30 of the 33 winning parliamentary candidates won with less than 3 percent of the vote. Nationally, 64 percent of Afghan voters cast their votes for candidates who lost. (These figures are drawn from Thomas Johnson’s brilliant paper analyzing the 2005 Afghan elections in the March–June 2006 Central Asian Survey, readily downloadable on the Web.)
Once could say "hold a primary" but that seems to narrow democracy.

And if one holds a primary, what is the cut off? Narrow it to two?  So, then the one elected is one of two who got less than 3% if the primary?  And at what point would the primary be needed?  More than two candidates, more than five candidates, more than ten candidates?

I would agree with a plan to hand primaries back to the political parties and not put the expense on the taxpayers.  And, even if we don't, I would favor a process that said that those not registered party members do not get to vote in the Primary Election.  I would mechanize that as current voters need to be registered with the party at least 90 days in advance and new voters may declare their party affiliation when they register, right up to the day of voting, including the day of voting.

Regards  —  Cliff

  As the Solid South of my youth did with cross filing.  But, my memory may be failing me.  The Wikipedia entry talks to California having cross-filing and even mentions Richard Nixon running unopposed in the 1948 Republican primary and also running in the Democratic Party primary and winning that nomination also.  Interestingly, California just voted to essentially do away with parties in primaries, with Proposition 14.  My personal view is that this is a step in the wrong direction.
  And, how solid would that be?  I would hope it wouldn't be like Lowell elections, where the City Council takes an Abrahamic like approach and keeps saying, well, let's cancel the primary, even though there is one more candidate than twice the number of seats, but let's cancel because there is one more than one candidate, but what if there was one more than one more ... lets cancel.


lance said...

The concern with primaries is that candidates say one thing to their base to get elected and then another during the campaign to collect the independents and others. So why waste the time and money? Let hear what they really have to say the first time and then vote on the two top vote getters. I think the "parties" mostly exist to figure out how to arrange the administration of the legistlative process. I am pretty sure they will be able to figure out something.

C R Krieger said...

If we KNOW that candidates run to their base to get nominated and then toward the center to get elected, why do we need to change the system?  Especially since they will tend to move back toward their base if elected.  Why not add the needed "Head Aim" and "English Bias" and call it even?

Regards  —  Cliff

ncrossland said...

The party based system in the US is indeed part of the political problem, if not the entire cause. At the very basic level, it encourages.....abets....our social desire to shift resposibility to someone else. By having a candidate parade their "acceptability" to the society for whom they wish to represent, we give the members of that society the means of opting out. "Hey, I voted for the bum, and he lied to us." Or even more convenient, "I didn't vote for him/her and I told you this would happen."

We have the technical ability to put the vote back to the "grass roots" level...even in the vaunted Presidential elections. Don't tell me that we can sustain a megamillion dollar credit card industry or sustain an business...but we still have to rely on local polling places with all the hanging chad and manual manipulations in order to elect someone to represent us but won't. There is a tried and true technological means of providing for a NPV system.....and we don't have it and won't have it because our party system provides us with a ready made denial of responsibility.