Relative Importance of Reforms
An effort by W. D. Smith (and others?) produced an estimate of the relative importance of voting reforms. He/they use the "invention of democracy" as their measuring stick and attempt to compare to that, quantitatively, the replacement of the electoral college with a direct vote, woman suffrage, election fraud and manipulation, turnout biases, Gerrymandering, votes for Black people, and the change from choose-one plurality to a system that resists vote splitting.
My comment is on his assumption that the quantitative effect of the "invention of democracy" is the magnitude of difference between random choice and (strategic) choose-one plurality voting. But in fact the prior art before voting was not random choice. It was hereditary monarchy. And I suppose that could have been better or worse than random choice.
I suppose he's used that assumption because a hereditary monarch is essentially a leader arbitrarily picked, like in random winner (as opposed to random ballot). But this is obviously very simplistic. When you have an all-powerful monarch versus some other system, the entire political and cultural landscape is likely to be very different and that isn't modelled by this.
@toby-pereira Its also worth noting that a monarch was raised from birth to be a monarch. They were much more highly educated than a random person.
Marylander last edited by Marylander
@jack-waugh Yeah, I don't like this page much. I think he makes a lot of assumptions just to be able to attempt to estimate the impact of the various reforms he discusses. (For one thing, he assumes that they won't interact with each other, but I think it is clear that things like "black suffrage" and "gerrymandering" should be expected to interact: I'd expect getting rid of gerrymandering to increase the value of black suffrage).
One issue with monarchies that Smith doesn't take into account just by treating it like a random winner is that the selection procedure of the monarch is frequently civil war, more often than in democracies. Obviously a civil war is more costly than an election (including by random ballot).
Given the limits on his estimates, he should be more careful about making controversial claims just based on them.
rob last edited by rob
Monarchs are also subject to selection by how good they are at defending themselves against foreign threats. Europe was almost constantly at war as one monarch tried to take land from another.