Politics as Sport: the NPL (National Politics League)

In a previous post, I proposed a way to structure political parties to compete against each other to propose policy, while relying on the jurga to enact policy. This structure requires each of the parties to have a score, and their ability to propose policy changes to a jurga is proportional to that score.

My initial mechanism for scoring the parties was a rolling election in which all citizens rank each party on a number of governing axes. I received credible feedback, however, that this step represents a weakness in the system. In response, I proposed a hack to improve this step. I now propose to step back and examine the issue with a wider lens.

A Simple Example: Appointing Judges

Appointing judges is conceptually the easiest policy task there is. Let’s say there are three parties, A, B and C, with the following (judiciary specific) weights:

A50%
B30%
C20%

I choose three parties for the sake of argument, elsewhere I argue there should be five political parties. Now suppose there are 50 open positions in the judiciary. As I argued previously, each party should nominate enough candidates so that the jurga (which will make the final determination) has 100 candidates to consider for the 50 positions. Thus party A would nominate 50 candidates, party B 30, and party C 20.

The jurga need not make its final determination in proportion to the party weights. Again, for the sake of argument, let’s say the proportion of judges selected by the jurga is as follows:

A42%
B31%
C27%

Party C has had success at the expense of party A, with party B staying about the same.

And now we get to the point. These results provide enough data to perform an update to the party weights. No reference to any external body would be required. The simplest way to do this would be to replace the old score with the new. This might prove too volatile, in which case a smoothing function can be applied.

Assuming some sort of smoothing function, we might end up with new weights like this:

A46.5%
B30.5%
C23%

Party A now has less power than before, because it nominated candidates that a random panel of citizens didn’t think were qualified. Party C has more power, and party B has about as much as before. In this way, parties rise and fall exclusively on the basis of policy success, which for us means convincing a jurga of the merits of the policy in question.

Relegation and Promotion

This, essentially, turns the political parties into a league of sport, competing for points. They are not working toward a championship, but in other respects the league analogy holds. I take one more property of sports leagues to round out this idea: relegation and promotion.

Virtually every sports fan in the world outside the United States is familiar with this idea. (In the U.S., bastion of the free market, sports leagues are, alas, deeply anti-competitive) In any league, the lowest performing teams are replaced by the highest performing teams from the next lower division. For our political parties, periodically (say, every 4 years) the lowest performing political party would be dropped, and its position taken by a new political party. This is possible because we now have a meaningful score for each party.

A separate mechanism would have to be devised to select the new political party. But that shouldn’t be too hard. One simple solution would be to convene a jurga to select a party from a number of groups applying for the vacancy; qualification might include signature gathering in order to limit the number of choices. There are other question here, like what weights to assign to the new party, but surely none of these issues presents an existential challenge.

Parties as Agents of Policy

What we have now is a structure in which political parties do one thing and one thing only: propose changes to law and government. This might take the form of advancing legislation, it might take the form of nominating people for office, or it might take another form. But the success of each political party would depend exclusively on its ability to convince ordinary citizens that its proposals are best.