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Random Elections

Elections held at unpredictable intervals
  (+11, -4)
(+11, -4)
  [vote for,

There are some flaws with the current system of holding elections every X years (usually 3, 4 or 5, depending where you live). For example, it discourages tackling long-term problems where success will take a while to become apparent, and it encourages governments to stash away cash to bribe the electorate in election years.

To encourage politicians to focus on doing their jobs rather than maneuvering to win the next election, I suggest that election dates be decided randomly. Under this system, the winning party (and everyone else) won't know whether they will be in power for one year, five years, or maybe even ten years.

Some politicians or parties will, I admit, respond to this by spending even more effort on maintaining a perpetual state of electioneeringishness. However, the public will grow tired of these loudmouths, and it would also be costly for them as they can't focus their money and efforts effectively, not knowing when the election will be. The politicians who focus on just doing their jobs and implementing policies that (hopefully) change stuff for the better will be more successful, both at their job, and at the election. The possibility of still being in power ten years or more from now would hopefully encourage more of a focus on the long-term good.

Also, the time between the election being called and being held would only be a few weeks. This would encourage parties to remain clear and focused on their aims and policies, in case they have to suddenly seek votes for another term in power.

As for how the random dates are decided, a uniform probability distribution might be best (e.g. 10% chance of the next election being within a year, 10% chance of an election 4-5 years from now, to a maximum of 10 years away). (It goes without saying that The Election Calling Machine would clearly need to be well-guarded by an independent authority.)

(On the other hand, though it's rather sillier, I quite like the idea of some kind of radioactive decay trigger, a Schroedinger's Election Box. The opposition parties can (by majority vote) choose to open the box at any time. If the Election Button inside is lit (sorry, no dead cats!), the election is held. If not, the box is *reset*. This would add a bit of fun as the opposition could decide to take a chance on opening the box when there's only a 40% chance of the button being lit, if they want a quick election enough to take the risk. And before the box is opened, would the governing party be both in power and not in power..?)

imaginality, Jul 12 2006


       A random timer on a trap door might be swifter. One day said official is working quietly at his/her desk... ding!.. woosh... AAAAHHHHH! Then the runner up steps into office, timer resets, so on and so on.
MoreCowbell, Jul 12 2006

       Are we assuming that evening the current governing party doesn't know the election date in advance? Otherwise we already have that in Canada. Of course the current Prime Minister wants to change things so that we will go to a fixed four year term.
NoOneYouKnow, Jul 12 2006

       this might make goverments even more risk averse, and is effectively baked in parliementary systems with no-confidence provisions
theircompetitor, Jul 12 2006

       Yes, neither the government nor the opposition parties know in advance. And it's not quite like no-confidence provisions, since this is irrespective of whether the government is doing a good job.   

       It might make governments more risk-adverse, but it's also arguable it would make them readier to take risks. Hard to know till it's tried. If the unknown term of office means that parties spell out their policies more clearly (short-term, medium-term, long-term results) so they are only judged on the short-term results if there's another election soon after, this might conversely make them feel freer to implement long-term policies?
imaginality, Jul 13 2006

       Brilliant idea.   

       Worried about this though:   

       //The Election Calling Machine would clearly need to be well-guarded by an independent authority//   

       This independent authority's staff may be up for a bit of peerage / boardage on an oil company (Delete as appropriate, depending on where you live).
monojohnny, Jul 13 2006

       My wife ralery seems preased with my random elections.
nihilo, Jul 13 2006

       sp: landom
Ling, Jul 13 2006

       I like the idea but I think it would just trigger perpetual electioneering. Some presidents do this anyway (e.g. Vicente Fox in Mexico) and ignore a lot of problems that need attention.
+mw+, Jul 13 2006

       I like this idea very much.   

       // 10% chance of an election 4-5 years from now, to a maximum of 10 // in the ninth year, the election-probability would be 100%.   

       The Schroedinger bit seems interestings, but might lead to an unending regency.
loonquawl, May 28 2009

       The "do the best job you can at all times because there could be an election at any time" aspect seems to be something this has in common with continuous election schemes. [+] for that.   

       I'm not too worried about providing an incentive for continuous electioneering, even though Trump is proving it can work.
notexactly, May 28 2019


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