Tuesday, April 07, 2009

An ugly system, but compared to what?

Many people, including some friends, tend to complain (or at least criticize) the current election system that makes individual candidates, rather than parties, are competing with each other. Well, the thing is election is the key element of democracy. The more direct the election (i.e. choosing individuals rather than parties), the better it should be. Of course, there are some caveats. Individual competition leads to distorted signals, increased searching costs, or 'supermarket effects' (where too many choices may lead to not choosing at all). But when we are to say one system is bad, we need also to ask, "compared to what?"

Here is my idea. Assuming that: 1) we still want democracy (not despotism or authoritarianism), 2) Arrow impossibility condition exists, 3) Plato's philosopher Republic is simply not attainable, then we may want to consider, I am proposing two possible alternatives:
  1. Random assignment. A lottery is assign to (s)elect leaders or representatives. All eligible citizen will have equal probability to be leaders or representatives.
  2. Take turns. Just like (1), but do a random assignment only once in the beginning. Then design a mechanism where each will take turn every a certain period. (Oh wait, who will have the authority to design the system?)
What do you think? For me, I still like the competitive election better.

1 comment:

  1. Why exactly would electing parties (ala proportional representation) worse than individuals (ala FPTP)? The prior have a broader set of views and constituencies that are represented. A high enough treshold in the proportional system would prevent unworkable fragmentation, and if combined with single constituencies to form a hybrid system (ala Germany and New Zealand), it offers the best of both worlds.