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[Ilya Somin (guest-blogging), March 29, 2006 at 10:03pm] Trackbacks
Political Ignorance and Israeli Coalition Politics II:

See here for an update on negotiations to form the postelection Israeli coalition government. As I predicted in my previous post on the subject, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Kadima Party are trying to form a coalition with the left-wing parties. Free market advocates, however, may be heartened by Kadima's refusal (so far) to let the socialistic Labor Party have the Finance Ministry and its rejection of Labor's proposal for a massive increase in the minimum wage.

At the same time, Olmert says he's leaving open the possibility of allying with the right-wing parties instead. I suspect that he's bluffing. As I noted in my earlier post, these parties categorically oppose Kadima's main policy objective: unilateral Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank.

Whether I'm right about Olmert or not, the fact remains that Israeli party leaders have a strong incentive to keep their true coalition preferences secret, or at least be highly ambiguous about them. If, for example, Olmert were to reveal that he prefers a coalition with Labor, that would greatly increase Labor's bargaining power in the negotiations and weaken Kadima's. Such incentives for secrecy make it even more difficult for voters to accurately predict what kind of coalition government is likely to result from an election. This problem further exacerbates the knowledge burdens that a PR system imposes on voters.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Political Ignorance and Israeli Coalition Politics II:
  2. Political Ignorance and Israeli Coalition Politics:
Ship Erect (mail) (www):
Such incentives for secrecy make it even more difficult for voters to accurately predict what kind of coalition government is likely to result from an election.

and yet

As I noted in my earlier post, [right-wing] parties categorically oppose Kadima's main policy objective: unilateral Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank.

Doesn't sound very secret, does it?
3.29.2006 11:33pm
Ilya Somin:
What is secret (or at least ambiguous) are the parties' COALITION preferences. I did not suggest that they also have strong incentives to keep their POLICY preference secret. However, secrecy about the former makes it difficult to predict what policie will actually be pursued by the resulting coalition government because it's hard to tell which parties will actually join the government and under what terms.
3.29.2006 11:38pm
David Gross (mail) (www):
It seems to me that these problems may not be problems with proportional representation as a whole, but with a particular implementation of it that demands that one central dominant group be formed through a majority-coalition. I can imagine other systems that do not have this weakness even though they start off from a proportional representation system of choosing representatives.

I wonder if using instant-runoff voting within a legislature to choose officers, cabinet members, prime ministers and the like would solve this problem or only mask it.
3.29.2006 11:48pm
Shelby (mail):
Ilya:

PR = proportional representation?
3.30.2006 1:52am
Ilya Somin:
Yes, PR does indeed equal proportional representation.
3.30.2006 2:01am
Defending the Indefensible:
Regarding the talk of Condorcet cycles being fatal to such methods, there are excellent techniques for breaking them, such as Cloneproof Schwartz Sequential Dropping (or Shulze Method), and there is little or no benefit to tactical voting if sealed ballots are used in combination with such a method.
3.30.2006 2:09am
M. Simon (mail) (www):
In the PR system coalitions are made post election. In the winner take all system coalitions are made pre-election.

I think our founders made a wise choice. They were afer all familiar with the British system.
3.30.2006 4:03am
Fishbane (mail):
PR = proportional representation?

It does now.

(Sorry, that probably only makes sense to programmers.)
3.30.2006 11:01am