Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Silvio Prodi

Gambling Rules of Democracy...

Toss it: Heads or Tails?

The result of the Italian elections seem to confirm a theory I have been trying to sell for many years: that voting is an aleatory event. I'll explain briefly. When you are thaught statistics or probabilistic calculus the very first lesson is about what happen when you toss a coin. If you do it 10 times you might have 8 "heads" and 2 "tails", if you toss it 100 times you might end up with, say, 45 "tails" and 65 "heads" but if you repeat it 1 million times you are going to have 500 000 "heads" and 500 000 "tails". What is the probability of getting "heads" when you throw a coin? One in two. 50%. And likewise the probability of getting "tails" is the same. 50% is the magical number that keeps coming whenever there are two choices and there is no exogenous bias. Just let "chance" play without constrains and in the end you have that magical number.

Every time you have a big election (say above 10 million votes) and you have only two choices (Silvio B., or George B., Romano P. or Al. G) what do you get in the end? 49.82 versus 49.73? Right, it's the dear old 50% figure lurking again!

Bottom line is: if you want the numerical legitimacy conferred upon a democratic choice you should have at least three voting options ( and that includes avoiding second round of elections with just two candidates left). Otherwise is just a matter of chance that decides who's going to be your political leader for the next couple of years.

No comments: