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Tactical voting and the myth of agency


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I'm somewhat saddened, or perhaps disturbed, to see various posts saying "there is no point in voting for X where I am", or, worse still: "there is no point in voting". I would therefore like to air my own take on the philosophy of democracy so you can tell me if I'm being stupid. Basically, it's in two parts:

  1. My vote will never make a difference. This is just a matter of fact: no seat (let alone the colour of the majority) has ever been determined by a single vote. I am certain that this will continue to be true for any election (local or general) for the rest of my life.
  2. I vote in elections, because I consider it to be my civic duty to do so. I also for minor emotional reasons, like I enjoy feeling like a grown-up, and it represents a rare moment of liberty in life.

When I consider the above two points, I don't think that tactical voting makes any sense, so I try to vote for the party I least disagree with. I acknowledge a strong psychological pull towards some kind of tactical voting; but when I examine my heart, I think this is because I still irrationally think I have some kind of influence on the outcome. That is so say, I haven't fully internalised point 1.

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Vote early, vote often.

Seriously though UK elections are heavily rigged towards the country dwelling right-wing elite. If you are left leaning in the UK you have vote tactility to prevent a split vote favouring the Tories.

Also support PR at every opportunity.

Appart from that you should be making lots of angry calls/visits to your local MP/journalist about the issues of the day. It's your civic duty!

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2 hours ago, whitemice said:

Vote early, vote often.

Seriously though UK elections are heavily rigged towards the country dwelling right-wing elite. If you are left leaning in the UK you have vote tactility to prevent a split vote favouring the Tories.

Also support PR at every opportunity.

Appart from that you should be making lots of angry calls/visits to your local MP/journalist about the issues of the day. It's your civic duty!

I agree with you on contacting politicians, which can potentially have an influence. However, I disagree with the need to vote tactically to prevent a split vote: my vote will make no difference.

There is a nice paradox there, though: if you let me pretend that HPC is a mass media outlet, so that statements here could influence the voting behaviour of many people, then it could be rational to say on this forum "vote tactically", while still being irrational for every individual to follow this advice.

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PR would be a disaster.

I've voted UKIP for aeons, forget when I started.  They never won in any MP election.  But they scared the bejeezus out of  TPTB, and voila, their flagship policy is being implemented.

Under PR we would be in the same position as SD in Sweden Sweden or Wilders' lot in the Netherlands.  UKIP would have 50-100 seats and be completely frozen out of all decision making until the day they have 51% of the entire House, which would be HIGHLY unlikely.  I feel there's more point voting for UKIP now, under FPTP, then there ever would be under PR.

As I don't live in Clacton no Kipper I ever voted for ever got in.  However my votes were not wasted, IMO.  They influenced policy, more effectively than if they did return Kipper MPs even under PR.

Edited by EUBanana
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So you're saying it's pretty random if your vote has any meaning or not, and that's why we should stick with FPTP?

If UKIP got 50-100 seats, then it would try and form a ruling coalition with other parties. The process of negotiation and finding common ground gives us a broadly representative government, blocks more extreme polices and is how governments are supposed to function.

Tory's are only pretending to be UKIP for this election. In a few weeks they'll revert to the usual free market pro-immigration nutjobs they've always been.
 

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2 hours ago, whitemice said:

So you're saying it's pretty random if your vote has any meaning or not, and that's why we should stick with FPTP?

This wasn't directed at me, but I'm going to answer anyway (sorry). I'm saying something stronger and stranger than that: your vote will never have a meaningful effect on the outcome under any electoral system.

It pains me to say this about proportional representation as well, because I like the idea of PR, and at least part of the reason is that I feel (incorrectly) that under it, my vote would have some effect, albeit very small. The fact of the matter however, is that, once more, my vote will not affect any seat in a house elected by PR, and even when they show the proportions of votes for different parties, they won't use enough significant figures for me to see my contribution, let alone for it to have an effect on any debate.

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On 22/05/2017 at 4:49 PM, whitemice said:

If UKIP got 50-100 seats, then it would try and form a ruling coalition with other parties. The process of negotiation and finding common ground gives us a broadly representative government, blocks more extreme polices and is how governments are supposed to function.
 

If UKIP got 50-100 seats a cordon sanitaire would be created and they would be utterly excluded from power, thus pissing off their voters who would feel just as helpless as before.

See: Sweden Democrats in Sweden, see Geert Wilders in the Netherlands.

It's not like we don't have examples of how PR functions.  It isn't hard to see what would happen here - same thing that happens everywhere else where they have insurgent parties.  Even with 100 seats UKIP would be more powerless under PR than they would be under FPTP.  UKIP on 15% of the polls under FPTP is a serious threat that needs to be courted by the political establishment represented by the Big Two.  UKIP under PR can safely be ignored by the political establishment - which may be represented by a more diverse bunch by the BIg Two, but will still be the majority.

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On 22/05/2017 at 4:09 PM, EUBanana said:

PR would be a disaster.

So why do you think it is that, though many nations have pondered this, and subsequently altered their voting systems over the years (some more than once), not a single one has ever opted to change to FPTP? There have only ever been changes from it.

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5 hours ago, Shrink Proof said:

So why do you think it is that, though many nations have pondered this, and subsequently altered their voting systems over the years (some more than once), not a single one has ever opted to change to FPTP? There have only ever been changes from it.

It has a superficial logic to it, and it's easily defended as a matter of principle.

However, as a matter of empirical observation, it seems to be absolutely terrible, and especially terrible at the election or representation of non-establishment outsiders - which is supposedly the point of PR.  There are plenty of examples right across the EU now of sizable chunks of the electorate being completely bypassed and sidelined thanks to PR, with the chance of being heard almost a mathematical impossibility because the system is completely stitched up.   Meanwhile in both UK and US with their supposedly outmoded systems the establishment boats have been well and truly rocked.

I'll take that empirical observation over theories of equality any day.

 

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