When FPTP delivers a majority winner it does, as said, fulfill the goal of identifying the will of the majority. But when it doesn’t, what, then, is their will?
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The idea behind a preferential ballot is that if first-preference choices alone don’t sufficiently tell the tale we should consider the matter further in terms of voters’ additional preferences, and, in so doing, we can improve upon the determination of what, indeed, is their collective will.
For most people their first choice is not necessarily their only choice, the sum total of their will; if their first choice is not shared with enough other people they might still be willing and able to find common ground elsewhere.
We need to capture such alternatives so that we can drill down to a better — majority — decision, and so we come to the preferential ballot.
Yet there are many ways to interpret such preferences, and these do, sometimes, yield different results — meaning that there is room for legitimate debate about what really is the will of the majority in such cases.
Nevertheless, with any of these systems, once we agree upon which to use, and when, and as long as we apply it honestly, consistently, and transparently, we will get a decision that is far more acceptable to the majority than if we leave it simply at the FPTP plurality result.
In particular, among the many preferential methods, there are those that determine a so-called Condorcet (“con-dor-say”) winner, which many propose, as I do as well, delivers an optimum democratic decision in a wide range of contexts.
More particularly I propose the Condorcet approach called Condorcet/Ranked-Pairs as best of the best, as a plug-in replacement for:
- Single-member systems such as: FPTP (Single Member Plurality (SMP)), Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) / Alternative Vote (AV),
- Multiple-member systems such as: Single-Transferable Vote (STV), multiple-member FPTP (Multi-Member Plurality (MMP)), and
- FPTP components of existing proportional representation systems like Mixed-Member Proportional Representation (MMPR)
… to name a few.
Next: Condorcet Methods