Thursday, March 02, 2006

Election systems: Not a functioning market

A Big Stick and a Small Carrot: Going for Gold:
One for the free marketeers who support first past the post to ponder.

The two party system is non-competitive. It is comparable to a captive, demand constant, oligopoly market in which consumers have a choice between only two approximately equally sized suppliers.
He is, of course, completely correct. The fact that it's bad for democracy and breaks badly when you throw more parties intot he mix is another good reason to support STV.


Andrew said...

Not completely correct. Even with a relatively non-competitive market where consumers have a choice between only two suppliers, they can still choose to buy from either of the two. The problem with the electoral system is that everyone has to buy from the same supplier once an election has taken place. It would be like people choosing which supermarket everyone has to shop from once every 4 years. Great for Tesco at the moment, but a pain in the neck if you prefer Waitrose.

It would be an interesting experiment in democracy if people could choose which of the parties they wanted to legislate for the area in which they live - the ultimate consequence of decentralisation, I suppose - but my guess is that many would oppose the Conservatives running most of England with the ensuing low tax rates, for example...

MatGB said...

See, local democracy, devolving power directly, strengthening local councils, etc.

Are you sure you're not a LibDem? ;-)

jonn said...

I don't think having two dominant parties is necessarily a problem if they're broad churches acting as debating chambers and conduits for different shades of opinion.

This is kind of what happens in the US. (The West Wing US rather than the real one, admittedly, but it's still vaguely in that direction.)

The problem, once again, is centralization I think - I'm sure that, between them, the Labour and Conservative Parties contain a lot of different viewpoints on economic and social policy. Unfortunately, their leaderships don't - and thanks to our ridiculous political system, they're the only thing that counts.

If I were an American I would be reasonably happy to call myself a Democrat (despite their total uselessness at present). But in Britain I could never join the Labour party because I don't like Tony Blair.

Are any political systems functioning markets?