Friday, August 27, 2010

What did Chad ever do to deserve this?

Someone said on Paco's blog the other day that the prevalence of hung parliaments/hanging Chads right across the Anglosphere is mathematically pretty unlikely. That sounds about right. (It's happened in the US, twice, in the UK, in Tasmania, and Western Australia, and now the Australian Parliament. I'm sure there are other examples).

Applying Occam's Razor to find the simplest solution, I think you'll probably find that there's no simplest solution to this. It's so damn complex. I mean, it's not as if the political situation in the US, the UK, Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia across the past decade are equivalent, though you might like to exaggerate the superficial similarities. (Not looking at anyone in particular...)

Really, what are you left with? You could argue that historical forces (whatever they are) caused it, and that this is just an example of cyclical history. Or you could postulate that it really is just sheer fluke of luck, an astounding historical coincidence. Or you could theorise that God caused it out of bloody-mindedness.

What's the simplest solution? I've no damn idea. Can we go for the most complex solution? Someone, give me a complex solution!

UPDATE! - Hang on, I've got it. A combination of the feng shui in the UK Parliament, and the alignment of certain astrological symbols over the United States, as well as the rise of the Jedi religion in Australia, the operation of the Large Hadron Collider in Europe, and a large proportion of Higgs Bosons over the Pacific Ocean have resulted in a fundamental karmic imbalance which has in turn caused the hung parliaments.

So all we need to do to solve this dilemma is to get together our leading astrologers, Taoists, Jedi priests, Buddhist monks, engineers, and theoretical physicists, perhaps creating a government department to facilitate their operations. So complicated it's simple.


Ann O'Dyne said...

8-letter word, meaning 'Ask everybody' - election.

"... it's not as if the political situation in the US, the UK, Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia across the past decade are equivalent"

Maybe they are equivalent over the past five years though?
Equivalence achieved through intense communications we now have. Instant comparison of opinions far and wide, not reliant on MSM for news facts etc. Everybody more informed and therefore more cynical?
I have been voting since the 1960's and never thought the 2-Party, Party-Line situation was democratic.
Also very tired of all pollies just slagging each other while the country runs itself into the arms of foreign ownership.
Our food supply is currently under serious threat from several directions and only Krazy Katter is saying so.

and now my WV is Eatea. indeed.

TimT said...

I don't know. Don't see why changes in the media over the past few decades would necessarily cause these results.

In the US they appear to have got over their hanging-chad situation, so the media influence across the world *doesn't* seem to be equivalent.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

T, I'm quoting now from that infallibly reputable source Wikipedia on the subject of chads and their hangingness:

Chad refers to paper fragments created when holes are made in a paper, card or similar synthetic materials, typically computer punched tape or punched cards. Sometimes chad has been used as a mass noun or as a countable noun, and the plural is commonly either "chad" (as in "a pile of chad") or "chads" (as in "the multiple hanging chads").

Chad were made infamous in the highly contentious 2000 United States presidential election where many of Florida votes used Votomatic punched card ballots. Incompletely-punched holes resulted in partially-punched chad, where one or more corners were still attached, a hanging chad, dimpled chad or pregnant chad - where all corners were still attached, but an indentation appears to have been made. These votes were not counted by the tabulating machines.

Is this what you mean by "hanging chad", and if so, could you please clarify the connection with hung parliament/congress?

TimT said...

What I meant was, I think, 'ooh, that would make a nice title for the post!'

Dimpled Chads!

TimT said...

I suppose Dimpled Chad was a teenager he was a Pimpled Chad.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

P.S. why is is mathematically unlikely for there to be multiple cases where an electorate does not vote a single party into a majority? The claim would make more sense if voters tossed coins, but in my electorate, the coin had five faces - or - let's forget about Family First and the Democrats - three faces, Greens, Labor, Liberal. Which is a possible answer to your question: we're not seeing clear majorities because there are more than two options.

My tentative sense of why voters are seeking out a third option (not always the same third option - sometimes it's the Greens, but sometimes it's Bob Katter) is that they don't perceive the major party they would once have voted for as sufficiently different from the major party they wouldn't have voted for.

Alexis, Baron von Harlot said...

And having ended that last comment with a glib little binary, I also want to explore the possibility that we're getting better at seeing the unnecessary bind that binaries put us in, that we're better able to distinguish something outside the x or not-x paradigm.

TimT said...

Re: minor parties and more choices on offer for voters.... No, I don't see why that should necessarily result in hung parliaments/congresses.

Voting systems in the UK, the US, and Australia are all quite different. In the UK (and the US, yes?) there are no preferences. We have preferences in Australia. In the US I have no idea how it works though you vote indirectly for an electoral college member, no, who represents your state, and who then can choose the president?

And that's ignoring all the different variables at work in the different local councils, states, etc, across the Anglosphere.

Very different situations. Similar result.

TimT said...

I don't know about whether we're rejecting conventional binary politics, opposition v government, and all that. But surely some of the conventional, glib explanations about democratic results - 'voters get the politicians they deserve', 'the people have spoken' - etc, are no better or worse than other interpretations - eg, 'it is God's will that x becomes PM', or 'this choice for Party B, not party A, is a reaction by the mass subconscious to traumatic incident N', etc.

phil said...

I think you'll find if you substitute bisons for bosons, it will all work out.

Email: timhtrain - at -

eXTReMe Tracker

Blog Archive