Nov 18, 2022Liked by Steven Hill

This article makes clear that - after so many years - RCV is inevitable and in the not too distant future will be the standard voting method in this country. It is hard to believe that Rob Richie (and others) have been able to sustain the RCV promotional effort over three decades with so little progress until relatively recently. It's been said that repeating the same effort over and over again and expecting a different result is a sign of insanity.

It's also been said (was it G.B. Shaw?): "Reasonable people try to adapt themselves to the world, unreasonable people try to adapt the world to themselves - therefore all progress depends on unreasonable people."

Are Rob Richie, Steven Hill (and others) insane, unreasonable (or both)?

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I applaud your persistence, perseverance and continued optimism.

I write from Australia, where RCV (which we call ‘preferential’ voting) has been in place for well over a century (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electoral_system_of_Australia?wprov=sfti1). Nearly every election in Australia uses a form of this, though there is quite a bit of variation.

We are still dominated by two major parties, but the presence of significant minor parties (particularly in the Senate) is well accepted. And the share of the vote the two major parties receive is declining (https://democracy4dinner.org/2022/05/28/three-take-aways-from-2022-federal-election/).

Perhaps most promising is the rise of genuine grass-roots independent movements, gaining significant electoral representation (https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/may/23/teal-independents-who-are-they-how-did-they-upend-australia-election).

There are many improvements we can make to make Australian democracy better represent our communities. But I am glad for these foundations.

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Dec 23, 2022Liked by Steven Hill

Hi DemocracySOS. I'm a relatively new subscriber but I am greatly enjoying your articles. I have the great privilege of living in and being a citizen of what I consider to be the most advanced democracy in the world: Switzerland. As I'm sure the DemocracySOS team knows, Switzerland is a federal semi-direct democracy. I feel our system is little known among democracy activists and is largely dismissed by academics as a system that would "only work in Switzerland" - I heard David Runciman say this in a talk. Sigh... this view could not be further from the truth.

Our system has many innovative features but I want to draw your attention to two of them. Firstly, parliamentary legislation is controlled by the people. If parliament passes contentious legislation, with only 50,000 signatures the people can force a national referendum on the issue. This forces parliament to work in the center ground. Moreover, all difficult issues end up in a national referendum which results in laws having a high degree of consensus. This is how we dealt with the imposition of covid restrictions - we had two national votes on the matter and the anti confinement part of the population lost the votes and therefore all legitimacy to continue agitating.

Second, the government is elected by parliament. We have a 7-member federal council which needs to reflect political party proportions in parliament, regional languages, and the cantons. This approach facilitates a consensus approach to politics - there is no winner-takes-all dynamic when it comes to forming the government and that helps reduce partisanship. Moreover, the government is clearly subordinate to parliament - and they control the government on the people's behalf. We also avoid the problems of say the French system where you can have different parties dominate parliament and the executive.

There is so much more I want to say but I can't in this short post. So I want to draw your attention to the following open access book: Swiss Democracy by Linder and Mueller. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read this book in full. Many of the problems modern democracies face can be solved by learning from the system we have pioneered.

Here is the link: https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/46820

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