Proportional Representation (BC)

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Pondering

 

cco wrote:
   Moreover, 60.5% of Canadians voted against your "clear party", and it still has a majority government. That's the problem

I never called the Liberals “clear”and they aren’t “my party” as I am returning to voting NDP next time around and even if I weren’t that wouldn’t make them “my party”. You are so severely partisan you can’t even imagine people willing to vote for multiple parties. Last time around the NDP were regressive not progressive. They were against marijuana legalization and promised zero deficits making their priorities clear and it wasn’t daycare. The NDP is a neoliberal party too. Voting for other parties is not the same thing as voting against the parties not voted for. Trudeau has by far the highest rankings as Prime Minister amongst those available. You are projecting dissatisfaction. That might explain why so far PR has not won broad support from Canadians.

Trudeau is by far the most popular leader in Canada. A majority of voters are “against” the NDP and the Conservatives by your reckoning.

cco wrote:
   You and other FPTP supporters are essentially conjuring an after-the-fact narrative where "Canada", as a single organism, votes to reject a government, an ability it possesses only because of the capricious nature of FPTP, which it'd be giving up if the electoral system were representative. 

It’s just the opposite. In Canada not all votes are equal because we are not a single entity we are a federation made up of provinces that joined individually. We express our diversity through our municipal and provincial elections. It isn’t so much that I support FPTP I just don’t see MMP as clearly better in which case why take the risk? Canada has done well in my estimation.

I elect an individual not a party. This is why MPs can cross the floor without a new election. To some extent the party is answerable to the MP especially in a minority situation. You want to elect political parties making the MP more beholden to the party rather than to constituents.

cco wrote:
  If a majority of Canadians vote for a party under PR, it'll get a majority government. If not, it won't. And the wheeling and dealing that led to the Liberals propping Harper up for 6 years of minority governments under FPTP didn't seem to bother you.

Of course it bothered me. They were still doing what Canadians wanted them to do most of the time because opposing Harper would have meant having another election which Canadians did not want.

As you noted the possibility exists, and quite frequently, of having minority governments. In that situation the government can work with any party in opposition to form a majority to pass legislation. That isn`t possible under PR. Under PR parties are forced into coalitions and if they can`t form one there is no government and new elections must be held.

If under PR the lead party formed government and could work with any MPs (parties) on a case by case basis then I would support something like Dion`s version of PR that doesn`t require any top off seats or party lists.

cco

Pondering wrote:

Trudeau is by far the most popular leader in Canada. A majority of voters are “against” the NDP and the Conservatives by your reckoning.

Yes. That's why, under PR, neither the NDP nor the Conservatives would have a majority government either. They don't have majority support.

Pondering wrote:

It’s just the opposite. In Canada not all votes are equal because we are not a single entity we are a federation made up of provinces that joined individually. We express our diversity through our municipal and provincial elections. It isn’t so much that I support FPTP I just don’t see MMP as clearly better in which case why take the risk? Canada has done well in my estimation.

I'm not sure why you brought the federal structure into this discussion. It's only relevant insofar as it guarantees (and would continue to guarantee) the overrepresentation of PEI and the like. Every PR system on the table maintains the provinces and has lists done at the provincial level at the largest (many have smaller regions, which I'm iffy on due to how it decreases proportionality).

Pondering wrote:

I elect an individual not a party. This is why MPs can cross the floor without a new election. To some extent the party is answerable to the MP especially in a minority situation. You want to elect political parties making the MP more beholden to the party rather than to constituents.

I want to elect a parliament whose partisan makeup is representative of how Canadians vote. I've also said in another thread that I think a floor-crossing ban is impractical. This theoretical ideal of the parties beholden to the MPs, lest they cross the floor (despite the fact that unless you're Belinda Stronach, threatening the party leader with floor-crossing is more likely to get you denied renomination than to change the party's behaviour in your favour), could still exist under MMP. List MPs remain human beings. With open lists, the control isn't all in the party's hands either.

Pondering wrote:

As you noted the possibility exists, and quite frequently, of having minority governments. In that situation the government can work with any party in opposition to form a majority to pass legislation. That isn`t possible under PR. Under PR parties are forced into coalitions and if they can`t form one there is no government and new elections must be held.

If under PR the lead party formed government and could work with any MPs (parties) on a case by case basis then I would support something like Dion`s version of PR that doesn`t require any top off seats or party lists.

Your characterization of PR is inaccurate. At this very moment, Angela Merkel is pondering the possibility of accepting a minority government. The only reason for a party to call a new election rather than forming a minority government is that that party thinks it'll do better when it goes back to the polls (something Harper did on more than one occasion, despite his fixed-election-dates legislation and the use of FPTP). There are even countries like Israel where all non-confidence motions have to be "constructive", forming a new government immediately rather than triggering new elections.

Pondering

cco wrote:
   Your characterization of PR is inaccurate. At this very moment, Angela Merkel is pondering the possibility of accepting a minority government. The only reason for a party to call a new election rather than forming a minority government is that that party thinks it'll do better when it goes back to the polls (something Harper did on more than one occasion, despite his fixed-election-dates legislation and the use of FPTP). There are even countries like Israel where all non-confidence motions have to be "constructive", forming a new government immediately rather than triggering new elections.

Are you saying that under PR it is not necessary for the parties to form a coalition before taking power? As I understand it one or more parties must be able to form a majority government before they can take power. The largest party usually takes the lead position and other parties bargain for other posts.

Pondering

cco wrote:
Your characterization of PR is inaccurate. At this very moment, Angela Merkel is pondering the possibility of accepting a minority government. The only reason for a party to call a new election rather than forming a minority government is that that party thinks it'll do better when it goes back to the polls (something Harper did on more than one occasion, despite his fixed-election-dates legislation and the use of FPTP). There are even countries like Israel where all non-confidence motions have to be "constructive", forming a new government immediately rather than triggering new elections.

As I understand it under PR the parties must form a coalition before taking power.  You are definitely wrong about Germany. Merkel cannot stay in power without forming a coalition with another party or parties.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/29/angela-merkel-faces-fresh-tro...

ngela Merkel was presented with a fresh complication in her efforts to put together a coalition government in Germany on Wednesday as a power struggle broke out for control of her Bavarian sister party.

Horst Seehofer, who has been one of Mrs Merkel’s strongest allies in coalition talks, is facing an attempted coup by rivals within the Christian Social Union (CSU).

Mrs Merkel is set for crucial talks  in Berlin on Thursday with Martin Schulz, the leader of the rival Social Democrats (SPD), as she tries to negotiate a new coalition.

...

Mrs Merkel is already facing a frosty start to the negotiations, with the SPD furious after a senior minister in her caretaker government gave German approval for a controversial EU decision without consulting cabinet colleagues.

Some form of deal with the SPD is Mrs Merkel’s last chance to avoid new elections after talks with smaller parties collapsed earlier this month.

No coalition no government.

 

cco
Pondering

cco wrote:
Merkel: New Elections Preferable To Minority Government

"Preferable to." Not "required."

I stand corrected, and yet she said there hasn't been a minority government since WWII and she doesn't want to try. She only has 32% now so it is highly unlikely she can win a majority alone.

In Canada we have had many minority governments.

Does anyone know why they don't occur in Germany even though the option apparently exists? Why doesn't Merkel want to govern with a minority? It seems she prefers a coalition?

JKR

Pondering wrote:

cco wrote:
Merkel: New Elections Preferable To Minority Government

"Preferable to." Not "required."

I stand corrected, and yet she said there hasn't been a minority government since WWII and she doesn't want to try. She only has 32% now so it is highly unlikely she can win a majority alone.

In Canada we have had many minority governments.

Does anyone know why they don't occur in Germany even though the option apparently exists? Why doesn't Merkel want to govern with a minority? It seems she prefers a coalition?

Understandably Merkel wants to lead a strong stable government so she reasonably wants to have a stable coalition government with solid majority support instead of an unstable single-party government with weak minority support.

In Canada political parties form minority governments instead of coalition governments because they want to get a phoney FPTP "majority" government in the next election. In Germany's PR system there are no phoney "majority" governments so politicians like Merkel don't base their actions on getting one in the next election. The German system induces cooperation between parties in forming government.

Pondering

JKR wrote:
Understandably Merkel wants to lead a strong stable government so she reasonably wants to have a stable coalition government with solid majority support instead of an unstable single-party government with weak minority support.

In Canada political parties form minority governments instead of coalition governments because they want to get a phoney FPTP "majority" government in the next election. In Germany's PR system there are no phoney "majority" governments so politicians like Merkel don't base their actions on getting one in the next election. The German system induces cooperation between parties in forming government.

That can't be so. There was an election in September.  With 32% support she still can't form a coalition government. The German system hasn't induced cooperation, just the opposite. She can't get enough parties to support her to form a government so they will have to have another election. Apparently the other parties can't get it together to overthrow her or work with her.

So, Germany has been without a government for 3 months going on 4 and presumably it takes a few months to organize another election.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_federal_election,_2017

The SPD's leader and Chancellor candidate Martin Schulz and other party leaders stated that the SPD would not continue the current grand coalition government after unsatisfactory election results.[17] Following the SPD's announcement that it would return to the opposition, the media speculated that Chancellor Angela Merkel might need to form a Jamaica coalition (black-yellow-green) with the Free Democrats and the Greens as that is the only viable coalition without the AfD or The Left, both of which had been ruled out by Merkel as coalition partners before the election.[18] On 9 October 2017 Merkel officially announced that she would invite the Free Democrats and the Greens for talks about building a coalition government starting on 18 October 2017.[19][20]

In the final days of the preliminary talks, the four parties had still failed to come to agreement on migration and climate issues.[21] Preliminary talks between the parties collapsed on 20 November after the FDP withdrew, arguing that the talks had failed to produce a common vision or trust.[22]

After the collapse of these coalition talks, the German President appealed to the SPD to change their hard stance and to consider a grand coalition with the CDU/CSU.[23] On 24 November, Schulz said he wants party members to be polled on whether to form another grand coalition with CDU/CSU after a meeting with President Frank-Walter Steinmeier the day before.[24] It is reported that talks are unlikely to begin until early 2018.[25]

It seems to me that Germany ended up with perpetual "majority" governments. This would be akin to the Conservatives and Liberals teaming up and running Canada with a perpetual majority. In BC I don't know what the equivalent would be. The only parties I hear of in BC are the Liberals, the NDP and the Greens.

As a coalition, the NDP and the Greens overthrew the Liberals, so under FPTP that is possible. Is there any way to project what the seat distribution would have been under PR?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Is there any way to project what the seat distribution would have been under PR?

You can get a ballpark result pretty easily.  Take each party's popular vote (e.g. 28%), divide it by 100 (0.28) and multiply it by the number of seats in the legislature (87) and then round up or down accordingly.  So in my example, 87 x 0.28 = 24 seats.  This doesn't take everything into account (e.g. cutoffs), but it's good enough napkin math.

ed'd to add:

When I do it, I get:

Liberals:  35

NDP: 35

Greens: 15

Other: 2

 

Pogo Pogo's picture

The question become: does the big tent party have a place.  Will the Liberals and Conservatives split? Will the environmentalists be more attracted by the Greens.  I would say yes, but it would take an election or two.

Pondering

Pogo wrote:

The question become: does the big tent party have a place.  Will the Liberals and Conservatives split? Will the environmentalists be more attracted by the Greens.  I would say yes, but it would take an election or two.

So under PR, the NDP would still have had the strongest hand, but the Greens would have more power within the coalition.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
So under PR, the NDP would still have had the strongest hand, but the Greens would have more power within the coalition.

Why would they have had the stronger hand?  Did you do the math?  Or see mine?

35 to 35, according to my Calculator widget.

Pogo Pogo's picture

My guess is that over time the core vote would be around:

NDP:32, Lib:32, Green:24, Con:12

Then facing that scenario the parties will change and adapt to where they are on the spectrum and the numbers will change again.

 

 

JKR

Pondering wrote:

JKR wrote:
Understandably Merkel wants to lead a strong stable government so she reasonably wants to have a stable coalition government with solid majority support instead of an unstable single-party government with weak minority support.

In Canada political parties form minority governments instead of coalition governments because they want to get a phoney FPTP "majority" government in the next election. In Germany's PR system there are no phoney "majority" governments so politicians like Merkel don't base their actions on getting one in the next election. The German system induces cooperation between parties in forming government.

That can't be so. There was an election in September.  With 32% support she still can't form a coalition government. The German system hasn't induced cooperation, just the opposite. She can't get enough parties to support her to form a government so they will have to have another election. Apparently the other parties can't get it together to overthrow her or work with her.

So, Germany has been without a government for 3 months going on 4 and presumably it takes a few months to organize another election.

 

Judging by what I've seen in the news, I think it will take a few more months of negotiating between the political parties before Germany establishes a new government, most likely another "grand coalition" between the CDU/CSU and SPD.

Pondering

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
So under PR, the NDP would still have had the strongest hand, but the Greens would have more power within the coalition.

Why would they have had the stronger hand?  Did you do the math?  Or see mine?

35 to 35, according to my Calculator widget.

I meant the strongest hand within the coalition.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
I meant the strongest hand within the coalition.

Technically, still the strongER hand, but okay.

At the same time, it's not clear how a few more MPs could strengthen the Greens' hand.  As long as they hold the balance of power, how does it matter if they're three votes or fifteen?  Or seven?  Or four?

NorthReport
Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Well, it does kind of sound like the government isn't exactly prioritizing this.

If BC ends up choosing PR, it won't be an issue.

If BC ends up -- for the third time -- rejecting it, expect to hear how the government made a deliberate choice to kill it in the cradle.

If the electorate in BC isn't already receiving their free copy -- translated into 41 languages -- of "Why PR is right for YOU" then it may be too late.   The exact same people who tell us that PR is simple and easy to understand and clearly better and everyone really wants it will be informing us that it was too complicated and people didn't know what they were voting for and the ballot didn't describe how to make an "X" in sufficient detail.

Third time's a charm, BC -- good luck!  And if you don't vote yes, I'll do my best to be back here in 2038 when it's not too soon to revisit the question.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

If BC ends up -- for the third time -- rejecting it, expect to hear how the government made a deliberate choice to kill it in the cradle.

In the 2005 Referendum, BC'ers voted in favour of STV by a 58-42% margin.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
In the 2005 Referendum, BC'ers voted in favour of STV by a 58-42% margin.

Then surely, with so much more time for voters to educate themselves about the issues, it must have done even better the second time, yes?

But how much better, JKR?  70%?  80%?

JKR

You don't know STV lost in the second referendum?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

It did?

But how?

More importantly, WHY?  If the electorate was in favour of it even BEFORE even more voters had time to learn how awesome it was, how could it possibly lose in a do-over?

Was it maybe not really ever about a better electoral system, but about punishing some party?

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

It did?

But how?

More importantly, WHY?  If the electorate was in favour of it even BEFORE even more voters had time to learn how awesome it was, how could it possibly lose in a do-over?

Was it maybe not really ever about a better electoral system, but about punishing some party?

What party was it meant to punish?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
What party was it meant to punish?

Sorry, to be clear:  not the second one, the first one.

As I understand it, the first referendum was to punish the government that got a majority with a minority vote (hence the apparent "success").  By the time of the second referendum, they weren't in power any more (hence the apparent "failure").

But I'm curious... why do you suppose that a do-over like this would fail so hard?  Forget what I think and tell me what you think.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

But I'm curious... why do you suppose that a do-over like this would fail so hard?  Forget what I think and tell me what you think.

The first and second referendums asked different kinds of questions. I think the question asked in the first referendum favoured a yes vote and the question asked in the second referendum favoured a no vote.

Here are the questions asked:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Columbia_electoral_reform_refere...

Quote:

In 2005 voters had been asked: "Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform?"

But in 2009 they were asked:

Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly?

- The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

- The single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

The referendums took place at the same time as the general elections where most of the voters were much more interested in the general elections than the referendums. I think that since most voters are not interested in electoral systems, referendums on electoral systems held with general elections can be decisively swayed by the structure of the referendum questions themselves.

According to studies, many people are unaware of the basic flaws of plurality voting. It seems that many people think our plurality system is already proportional. Many people take it for granted that our voting system produces results that fairly reflect voter intention. They are mostly unaware that the political parties themselves don't use plurality voting for their own elections as that would be undemocratic.

I think that if they want to have a better chance of winning, the PR side should to do a much better job of showing people how plurality voting is inherently undemocratic for elections involving more than two candidates. But I'm not sure any group can increase interest in electoral systems so voter turnout could be small in a stand alone referendum. I think it is also possible that the upcoming referendum in BC will fall primarily along partisan political party lines. People may just vote for the electoral system they feel favours the political party they support.

I think the best way to establish a fair electoral system would be to allow the electoral system experts, such as political scientists, politicians, and superior court judges, to design one for BC.

Rev Pesky

From JKR:

It seems that many people think our plurality system is already proportional.

It is proportional. Not perfectly proportional, but proportional nevertheless. The only proportional system in which no votes are wasted is a system where there is a seat for every single vote.

One of the problems of list type elections in BC is that a very large percentage of the voters live in the Metro Vancouver area. There are plenty enough votes here to swamp the rest of the province. 

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

From JKR:

It seems that many people think our plurality system is already proportional.

It is proportional. Not perfectly proportional, but proportional nevertheless. 

If the plurality system is proportional why have political parties that have come in second place with just a minority of the votes (under 40%) won majority governments?

cco

It's not in any way proportional. It wasn't designed to be. The fact it sometimes delivers somewhat proportional results is by accident.

Proportional systems aren't perfectly proportional, but that doesn't mean FPTP gets to retroactively classify itself as proportional because that's what the cool kids are into these days.

JKR

If the plurality system is proportional, why haven't political scientists and other experts on electoral systems categorized the plurality system as being a proportional system?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Conversely, though, if there are "X" number of possible seats to be won in an election, it would seem proportional if any party that gets (1/X)+1  votes wins a seat.

But even as we hold up "proportionality" as the logical and mathematical ideal, we're just as eager to walk it back and say that (1/X)+1 votes should be insufficient.

tl;dr:  supporters of proportionality are just as happy as you to sacrifice proportionality to expedience, or convenience, or not letting "k00Ks" anywhere near power.  We're all supposed to be ecstatic if the Greens can get close to two digits, but Gord forbid any party k00Kier than them gets a seat!  Someone, please, for the love of Gord, fudge those numbers somehow so we don't have to look at a Christian Marijuana Animal Patriot MP in the House!!!

JKR

Proportionality is not the only value of electoral systems so perfect proportionality is not supported by most people, as there are other important values people want in an electoral system. Like life in general, constructing an electoral system requires the difficult task of balancing contradictory values. I think our debate over electoral reform has a lot to do with reconciling the competing values of "political plurality" versus "political cohesiveness." I think the primary value of the FPTP plurality voting system is "political cohesiveness" and the primary value of more proportional voting systems is more "political plurality." FPTP voting favours political cohesiveness by encouraging people to set aside their differences and form two dominant big-tent parties. On the other hand, the more proportional an electoral system is, the more it moves away from the ideal of two-party politics and more toward the ideal of multi-party politics. Most countries have chosen an electoral system that tries to balance these competing values but our FPTP plurality system falls heavily on one side of this debate and heavily supports the value of political cohesiveness and two big-tent party politics.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Conversely, though, if there are "X" number of possible seats to be won in an election, it would seem proportional if any party that gets (1/X)+1  votes wins a seat.

But even as we hold up "proportionality" as the logical and mathematical ideal, we're just as eager to walk it back and say that (1/X)+1 votes should be insufficient.

tl;dr:  supporters of proportionality are just as happy as you to sacrifice proportionality to expedience, or convenience, or not letting "k00Ks" anywhere near power.  We're all supposed to be ecstatic if the Greens can get close to two digits, but Gord forbid any party k00Kier than them gets a seat!  Someone, please, for the love of Gord, fudge those numbers somehow so we don't have to look at a Christian Marijuana Animal Patriot MP in the House!!!

Magoo, you seem to be claiming that supporters of proportional representation believe that exact proportionality between party votes and party seats is the only objective in an election. Do you really believe this, or are you just posturing as usual?

I'm a supporter not just of proportional representation but of PR-STV, and I think that voters should be able to select candidates according to whatever candidate characteristics they think are important. I find the Irish system quite satisfactory, where usually 10% of the votes gets a party 10% of the seats, 5% of the votes gets 3.5% of the seats, and 40% of the votes gets 43% of the seats. I don't mind a few independents either.

I'd find a Christian Marijuana Animal Patriot MP acceptable if that's what say 1% of voters want. But I'd rather not have that kook Stephen Harper as Prime Minister for another 9 years, and I don't see why I should have to.

contrarianna

Today saw a full page anti-referendum fear-mongering ad in a local paper, with the screaming header:
'
"IS DAVID ELBY TRYING TO MANIPULATE YOU?"

FairRefeferndum.com is not the first astroturfed "concerned citizens"  outfit funded by right-wing former Canfor CEO Jim Shepherd:

Fair referendum campaign more about sowing doubt than promoting fairness: expert

by KURTIS DOERING Posted Jun 24, 2018 1:45 pm PDT

Fair Referendum is fronted by former Canfor CEO Jim Shepard, who was also behind Concerned Citizens for British Columbia, an effort to re-elect then-Premier Christy Clark....
....
The referendum ballot features two questions, one asking voters to indicate if they want to keep the current first-past-the-post system, and another asking those who favour proportional representation to rank three possible options.

Max Cameron with the UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions says this structure ensures that those who support proportional representation don’t have to converge on one specific type of system to get it.

“I think everything is being done to ensure, as much as possible, that this referendum actually allows us to get an accurate read on what it is the public wants,” he says.

He also suspects the Fair Referendum campaign has other motives as they blanket local media with ads.

“I think they’re trying to plant the seed of doubt in the minds of voters that there’s something somehow, unfair, tendentious, biased about the ballot question itself. It’s an attempt to really make people skeptical that somehow, the government is pulling to wool over our eyes.”

Such doubt, he adds, serves to strengthen the “status-quo bias” which already exists in any referendum.

https://www.news1130.com/2018/06/24/fair-referendum-campaign-sowing-doub...

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