Will the BC NDP's Platform Support Electoral Reform / Fair Voting / Proportional Representation?

51 posts / 0 new
Last post
JKR
Will the BC NDP's Platform Support Electoral Reform / Fair Voting / Proportional Representation?

It will be revealing to see whether the BC NDP includes electoral reform in its election platform. The party's policies made by its members at convention, otherwise known as its "membership platform", already supports electoral reform. If the NDP doesn't include fair voting in its election platform, it will signal that as the possibility of forming a government becomes very real it is preparing to go against the wishes of its membership in order to maintain the current status quo.

Issues Pages: 
Regions: 
Policywonk

JKR wrote:
It will be revealing to see whether the BC NDP includes electoral reform in its election platform. The party's policies made by its members at convention, otherwise known as its "membership platform", already supports electoral reform. If the NDP doesn't include fair voting in its election platform, it will signal that as the possibility of forming a government becomes very real it is preparing to go against the wishes of its membership in order to maintain the current status quo.

I think Dix has already said it will be.

JKR

Policywonk wrote:

I think Dix has already said it will be.

It won't be. The BC NDP's election platform has no mention of electoral reform so our unfair and divisive single-member plurality system is here to stay in BC for the foreseeable future.

 

BC NDP Election Platform - Good Government

Quote:

“We have to bring people back to the political process, and that means making politics more meaningful, more positive, more thoughtful, more generous.” – Adrian Dix

For too many British Columbians, “politics” has become a dirty word. Every political party has to take responsibility for the growing public cynicism that weakens our province’s democratic institutions.

The level of public disengagement can be measured in declining voter participation. In the 2009 provincial election, 49 per cent of eligible voters didn’t show up at the polls.

This lack of participation has serious consequences for our democracy and our society.

At its best, politics is about people coming together to solve common problems, collectively and democratically. Of course, there will be serious and heartfelt debates among citizens. That’s as it should be. It’s how we get to good decisions. But a generous and constructive politics has the potential to bring people together to solve big problems – problems we can’t overcome in a mean-spirited political culture that divides us.

...

Negative politics push people away from the democratic process. By straying from the government’s fundamental obligation to serve British Columbians, negative politics drive us all farther apart. Worst of all, negative politics undermine our ability to work together to solve common problems, to advance the larger public interest, and to create a better future in British Columbia.

The best way to increase public engagement and voter participation would be through the establishment of fair voting.

Fair voting is the best way to create a political system where "politics is about people coming together to solve common problems, collectively and democratically."

Our current winner take all single-member plurality system perpetuates divisive negative politics.

Policywonk

JKR wrote:

Policywonk wrote:

I think Dix has already said it will be.

It won't be. The BC NDP's election platform has no mention of electoral reform so our unfair and divisive single-member plurality system is here to stay in BC for the foreseeable future.

 

BC NDP Election Platform - Good Government

Quote:

“We have to bring people back to the political process, and that means making politics more meaningful, more positive, more thoughtful, more generous.” – Adrian Dix

For too many British Columbians, “politics” has become a dirty word. Every political party has to take responsibility for the growing public cynicism that weakens our province’s democratic institutions.

The level of public disengagement can be measured in declining voter participation. In the 2009 provincial election, 49 per cent of eligible voters didn’t show up at the polls.

This lack of participation has serious consequences for our democracy and our society.

At its best, politics is about people coming together to solve common problems, collectively and democratically. Of course, there will be serious and heartfelt debates among citizens. That’s as it should be. It’s how we get to good decisions. But a generous and constructive politics has the potential to bring people together to solve big problems – problems we can’t overcome in a mean-spirited political culture that divides us.

...

Negative politics push people away from the democratic process. By straying from the government’s fundamental obligation to serve British Columbians, negative politics drive us all farther apart. Worst of all, negative politics undermine our ability to work together to solve common problems, to advance the larger public interest, and to create a better future in British Columbia.

The best way to increase public engagement and voter participation would be through the establishment of fair voting.

Fair voting is the best way to create a political system where "politics is about people coming together to solve common problems, collectively and democratically."

Our current winner take all single-member plurality system perpetuates divisive negative politics.

Unfortunate, although that may be one of the issues that the all party committee (including those not in the legislature) looks at. Public pressure for PR may increase significantly with a huge majority in seats and a plurality of votes.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Great thread and great question, JKR. If PR is every going to happen in this country it has to come from a principled NDP government. BC will loom large in Federal politics if it elects an NDP government, since no other major province has a party aligned with the Official Opposition.

My feeling is though, that BC leans to the right and it may not be in their long-term interests. Is that true?

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

If there is PR then the NDP will likely never win a majority again. However it is unlikely any other party would either. On the positive side it might allow for a home grown BC party similar to QS to develop with a very left and green platform.  Who knows it might even convince the younger cohorts of voters to come out and vote.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

This is a comment from rabble's facebook page:

The people of BC have twice rejected STV. Perhaps the discussion needs to be reopened on other types of voting systems, other than STV. Perhaps. But for now, this election is going to go the way its going to go, and finally people have woken up to the fact that the Fiberals are just that... Fibbers. And have had enough.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Yes indeed 42% of the population voted against it in the first referendum so they overruled the 58% who wanted a change from FPTP.  The second time around saw a coalition of NDP and Liberal operatives using support from big business and the MSM defeat it handily. Neither of the two main party's leadership wanted any change since they both hoped to be the next government under the phoney majority system. And of course our business elite and their MSM don't want a change either since the system usually delivers majorities to the right.

 

ghoris

Frankly I was shocked that the ridiculous, overly-complicated, Rube-Goldbergian "BC-STV" contraption got as much as 58% of the vote in the first go-round. Obviously a significant segment of the population was so in favour of electoral reform in 2005 that they were prepared to vote for a system that nobody understood and that could not be properly explained in less than 30 minutes or by anyone other than someone with a degree in mathematics.

BCers were more interested in electoral reform in 2005 because we had just come off two very distorted election results: 1996, where the NDP got a majority despite the fact that they trailed the Liberals pretty significantly in the popular vote, and 2001, where the 40-plus percent of the electorate who voted other than Liberal were rewarded with a measly 2 seats. By 2009, the NDP had regained its usual levels of support and the 2005 and 2009 election results were less 'distorted' as a result, which I would argue was what really cooled the ardour for electoral reform among the public (as opposed to a sinister alliance of NDP and Liberal backroomers, the media and 'big business').

I have always felt that the critical mistake the electoral reform advocates made was in not pushing for a two-stage referendum (as was done in New Zealand), with the first question being "do you want to change the system from FPTP?" and if that question cleared the appropriate threshold, then to ask "which of these alternatives do you prefer?"

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I guess it just proves the Irish and Australians are way smarter than us dumb Canadians.

JKR

kropotkin1951 wrote:

If there is PR then the NDP will likely never win a majority again. However it is unlikely any other party would either. On the positive side it might allow for a home grown BC party similar to QS to develop with a very left and green platform.  Who knows it might even convince the younger cohorts of voters to come out and vote.

The only way a socialist party is going to be fairly represented in the legislature is if we switch to a fair voting system. It's no coincidence that social democracy has flourished in countries with fair voting. In these countries, socialists are fairly represented in legislatures and more importantly socialist ideas are able to get a hearing and gain political legitimacy.

Plurality voting produces a political system dominated by centrist parties, centrist politicians and plagued with vote splitting, strategic voting, and undemocratic political mergers. If the NDP continues to support plurality voting in provinces where they feel confident they can win phony majorities they should accept that they are supporting centrist politics, vote splitting, strategic voting and undemocratic mergers in all political jurisdictions in Canada even where these factors of plurality voting go against the NDP's interests and ideology.

JKR

ghoris wrote:

Frankly I was shocked that the ridiculous, overly-complicated, Rube-Goldbergian "BC-STV" contraption got as much as 58% of the vote in the first go-round. Obviously a significant segment of the population was so in favour of electoral reform in 2005 that they were prepared to vote for a system that nobody understood and that could not be properly explained in less than 30 minutes or by anyone other than someone with a degree in mathematics.

BCers were more interested in electoral reform in 2005 because we had just come off two very distorted election results: 1996, where the NDP got a majority despite the fact that they trailed the Liberals pretty significantly in the popular vote, and 2001, where the 40-plus percent of the electorate who voted other than Liberal were rewarded with a measly 2 seats. By 2009, the NDP had regained its usual levels of support and the 2005 and 2009 election results were less 'distorted' as a result, which I would argue was what really cooled the ardour for electoral reform among the public (as opposed to a sinister alliance of NDP and Liberal backroomers, the media and 'big business').

I have always felt that the critical mistake the electoral reform advocates made was in not pushing for a two-stage referendum (as was done in New Zealand), with the first question being "do you want to change the system from FPTP?" and if that question cleared the appropriate threshold, then to ask "which of these alternatives do you prefer?"

The referendum was set up to fail. In the aftermath of the 1996 election the BC Liberals promised to look at electoral reform as a way to highlight the fact that the NDP's majority was not only a phony majority but much worse, a "wrong winner." The BC Liberals spent almost 5 years after the 1996 election telling everyone that the NDP came in 2nd place and were an illegitimate government. By the time 2001 rolled around the BC Liberals were easily able to neutralize the BC Reform Party and consolodate the right of centre vote using the threat of another "wrong winner" election result. During this period the BC Liberals supported electoral reform to highlight the illegitimacy of the NDP government and to consoldate the right wing vote behind the BC Liberal banner. Having promised that they would look into electoral reform, the BC Liberals fulfilled their promise by establishing the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, The idiotic 77-2 election result in 2001 made it almost impossible for the BC Liberal government to renege on their promise so instead they set up a 60% requirement that made electoral reform difficult to pass. The corporate elite in BC made sure that the electoral reform process was rigged against reform because plurality voting gives them clout with all the major parties. Even when an unpopular right-wing government loses power occasionally, the corporate elite here feels confident that they'll be able to consolodate the right-wing vote by the time the next election comes around and in the meantime the plurality system will pressure the NDP to remain moderate.

As for STV - STV is a very good system but it's too complicated to easily sell in a referendum where very few people have the motivation to learn about complicated electoral systems. STV with 5 or more seat constituencies is probably the best electoral system around. The only electoral system I'm confident could beat our plurality voting system in a referendum is the 2 round plurality system used in France where a second round of voting between the top two finishers occurs when no candidate gets a majority in the first round. All other electoral systems are probably too complicated to pass a referendum that can be rigged by the powers that be. This is one of the reasons a referendum shouldn't be used to determine the electoral system used as fundamental democratic rights should be established and maintained whether the majority agrees with it or not.

Fidel

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Yes indeed 42% of the population voted against it in the first referendum so they overruled the 58% who wanted a change from FPTP.  The second time around saw a coalition of NDP and Liberal operatives using support from big business and the MSM defeat it handily. Neither of the two main party's leadership wanted any change since they both hoped to be the next government under the phoney majority system. And of course our business elite and their MSM don't want a change either since the system usually delivers majorities to the right.

 

That is not the story of STV that I read. The version I know said that the Campbell Liberals were angered over an NDP phony majority in the last half of the 1990's. But once they were able to realize their own phony majorities in the 2000's, all bets and support for STV were off by 2007 or so. And the BC NDP never wanted STV in the first place and still favour, I think, MMP with open lists.

I think we need ProRep on a national level for it to make an impact with voters as well as the economy. Installing STV in BC or even MMP in Ontario won't do much to counter the neoliberalorama wafting out of Ottawa like the smell of dead rats under the floorboards since the 1980's. We need fundamental change nation-wide. They've been running the country into the ground for so long that we will need at least as many years in power as the CCF had in Saskatchewan in order to reverse all of that which was broken so badly over the course of the last three and half decades. The NDP can only enter provincial government so many times with their hands tied by do-nothings in Ottawa and expect to do anything meaningful. We need federal power and lots of it. It's time to close the democracy gap/canyon/divide in Ottawa.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.  Bill Tielman and David Schreck were the main driving forces and public faces behind the No side in the second referendum and they had tons of cash from Howe Street to run their disinformation campaign. The MSM were as biased as they always are and they also sided with the NO side.  That is what I based my analysis on.

Quote:

Tieleman was a director of communications (public relations) for the British Columbia Federation of Labour and also in the Office of the New Democratic Premier Glen Clark. Tieleman owns West Star Communications, a consulting firm that provides "strategy and communication services for labour, business, non-profits and government," according to Tieleman's blog.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Tieleman

Quote:

David D. Schreck is a one-time Member of the Legislative Assembly in the province of British Columbia in Canada and a political pundit.

Schreck represented the riding of North Vancouver-Lonsdale from 1991 to 1996 for the New Democratic Party of British Columbia. He served as parliamentary secretary to the Premier and to a Minister of Employment and Investment.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Schreck

RANGER

I dunno if your totally accurate here Krop, I recall Gordon Gibson getting front stage MSM coverage to tell fairy tales about STV.... many other prominent people pushed for it including the soon to be turfed Christy Clark that had no clue (surprise) what she was talking about on her radio show but still recklessly misled listeners into believing that STV was the elixer to all our political woes.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

STV is far preferable to the FPTP system we have now. If it had been enacted in 2005 for the 2009 election in recognition of the 58% support we would have been spared the phoney Liberal majority in 2009.  My grandchildren will be paying for that mistake until they are my age. BC Rail, BC Hydro and a slew of P3 deals (we are soon going to find out how much the true costs are) would have avoided. The NDP in 2005 was on the rebound and very hopeful that they would benefit from FPTP in 2009 so it had no incentive to push for any kind of PR.

I prefer MMP without party lists and with a 5% threshold but STV with 5 or 7 seat ridings would have been far superior to what we still have. The thresholds are higher under STV than I want but we would have had at least three if not four parties in the current Legislature and Gordo and his Howe street buddies would have had some restraints placed on the looting of the public purse.

Fidel

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.

It says here that Carole James favours MMP.

And I know for sure that the reason the NDP did not openly campaign for MMP here in Ontario was that the Liberals made it a condition that no party would campaign for or against during the election campaign.  But Howard Hampton endorsed the citizen assembly's choice for MMP anyway.

Similarly I think that at the time the conditions for a referendum in BC were being laid out, the BC NDP had only a few MLA's. Like it was in Ontario, the BC Liberal Governments of the day laid out all of the conditions for not just the referendum but also the two supermajority barriers to pro-rep and namely the requirements for two-third support for electoral reform in addition to a requirement that at least two-thirds of all ridings vote for reform. They were much the same conditions for the referendum here in Liberal Ontario except that our Liberals didn't allocate nearly the same resources toward a public education campaign and far too late to help voters understand pro-rep leading up to the referendum. I remember asking people if they were going to support pro-rep/MMP here, and many did not understand what it is including my nextdoor neighbor at the time.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I guess then the good news is that the NDP is about to form a majority government and will be able to do something about it. 

contrarianna

Fidel wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.

It says here that Carole James favours MMP.

Your circuitous citing of Con federal backbencher Scott Reid on what anti-STV Carol James "presumably" wants instead  of STV is hardly convincing of anything. It is certainly  a comically long way from the BCNDP  seriously  campaigning for ANY change from FPTP.

Obfuscation aside, no party that thinks it might win a phoney majority in the foreseeable future will ever take serious steps to organize for a more democratic voting system.
Democracy, as usual, is expendable to all who salivate for power.

Policywonk

contrarianna wrote:

Fidel wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.

It says here that Carole James favours MMP.

Your circuitous citing of Con federal backbencher Scott Reid on what anti-STV Carol James "presumably" wants instead  of STV is hardly convincing of anything. It is certainly  a comically long way from the BCNDP  seriously  campaigning for ANY change from FPTP.

Obfuscation aside, no party that thinks it might win a phoney majority in the foreseeable future will ever take serious steps to organize for a more democratic voting system.
Democracy, as usual, is expendable to all who salivate for power.

The BC NDP has supported PR in general (and I believe MMP) in policy if not in platform.

theleftyinvestor

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I guess then the good news is that the NDP is about to form a majority government and will be able to do something about it. 

They won't. There have been no signals indicating that a Dix NDP is going to reopen the door on electoral reform. And with the whole theme of "one practical step at a time" no surprises, etc, I think it's a very strong certainty that BC will not see electoral reform on the table in the next 4 years.

Policywonk

Fidel wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Yes indeed 42% of the population voted against it in the first referendum so they overruled the 58% who wanted a change from FPTP.  The second time around saw a coalition of NDP and Liberal operatives using support from big business and the MSM defeat it handily. Neither of the two main party's leadership wanted any change since they both hoped to be the next government under the phoney majority system. And of course our business elite and their MSM don't want a change either since the system usually delivers majorities to the right.

 

That is not the story of STV that I read. The version I know said that the Campbell Liberals were angered over an NDP phony majority in the last half of the 1990's. But once they were able to realize their own phony majorities in the 2000's, all bets and support for STV were off by 2007 or so. And the BC NDP never wanted STV in the first place and still favour, I think, MMP with open lists.

I think we need ProRep on a national level for it to make an impact with voters as well as the economy. Installing STV in BC or even MMP in Ontario won't do much to counter the neoliberalorama wafting out of Ottawa like the smell of dead rats under the floorboards since the 1980's. We need fundamental change nation-wide. They've been running the country into the ground for so long that we will need at least as many years in power as the CCF had in Saskatchewan in order to reverse all of that which was broken so badly over the course of the last three and half decades. The NDP can only enter provincial government so many times with their hands tied by do-nothings in Ottawa and expect to do anything meaningful. We need federal power and lots of it. It's time to close the democracy gap/canyon/divide in Ottawa.

Even with the supermajority requirement, the STV referendum in 2005 came tantalizingly close to passing. That doesn't mean the Liberals wouldn't have found ways to delay it or even prevent it even if it had passed. I've always thought a two stage refereundum process or a preferential ballot referendum on FPTP and two different PR options would have been better. I don't think 5 seat STV constituencies would work very well in the less populated parts of BC, but it would have been interesting to have at least one election under the system proposed. Banning corporate and union donations will be much easier that achieving a PR system.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I still hope that at minimum they put a non rigged referendum on the ballot for 2017.  A two stage ballot with a Yes or No to electoral change in the first part and a second question with two options to choose from.  I am not expecting that to happen however.

contrarianna

Policywonk wrote:

contrarianna wrote:

Fidel wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.

It says here that Carole James favours MMP.

Your circuitous citing of Con federal backbencher Scott Reid on what anti-STV Carol James "presumably" wants instead  of STV is hardly convincing of anything. It is certainly  a comically long way from the BCNDP  seriously  campaigning for ANY change from FPTP.

Obfuscation aside, no party that thinks it might win a phoney majority in the foreseeable future will ever take serious steps to organize for a more democratic voting system.
Democracy, as usual, is expendable to all who salivate for power.

The BC NDP has supported PR in general (and I believe MMP) in policy if not in platform.

Citation please.

I'm curious to see what an agreed-on BC NDP "policy-but-not-in-platform" looks like.
And if major changes to the electorial system were actually SERIOUSLY considered, why isn't the intended process even mentioned  in the platform?

theleftyinvestor

Would be interesting to speculate what governments would look like under PR anyway though.

If there were no change in parties and the current polls led into a PR election... NDP would be near majority and require the support of at least one of Lib, Green or Con (or possibly independents) to pass legislation. No guarantee they'd always pick Green, but it'd certainly give the Greens some leverage (and with it, an obligation to actually behave as a party that can have real influence over governance).

But I think under PR, we might see a scenario where the right flank of the Liberals finally has absolutely no reason to still be there, and they flee either to Conservatives or a new party completely. That leaves the Liberals either to die out or be reborn as Liberals who have realigned with the federal party.

If there is an explicitly centrist party, we could see the NDP move back to the left. Or the NDP would stay put and act as the centrist party to which either the Greens or some other new party would apply pressure from the left (e.g. the provincial equivalent of COPE).

JKR

Fidel wrote:

I think we need ProRep on a national level for it to make an impact with voters as well as the economy. Installing STV in BC or even MMP in Ontario won't do much to counter the neoliberalorama wafting out of Ottawa like the smell of dead rats under the floorboards since the 1980's. We need fundamental change nation-wide. They've been running the country into the ground for so long that we will need at least as many years in power as the CCF had in Saskatchewan in order to reverse all of that which was broken so badly over the course of the last three and half decades. The NDP can only enter provincial government so many times with their hands tied by do-nothings in Ottawa and expect to do anything meaningful. We need federal power and lots of it. It's time to close the democracy gap/canyon/divide in Ottawa.

I agree that if real change is to happen in Canada has it will have to take place at the federal level as provincial governments are in straight jackets as they have to maintain relatively competitive tax rates with each other. The only province that has the fiscal capacity to unilaterally establish social democracy is Alberta. So provincial NDP governments outside of Alberta can't unilaterally establish social democratic societies. Only a federal NDP government can bring that about.

But why would a federal NDP government have to act slowly and incrementally over many mandates? What important policies have to be delayed? National child care? Cap and trade? Pharmacare? Homecare? Electoral reform? Increased and more progressive taxation? Full employment policies? Accessibility to post secondary education? Social housing? Another Kelowna Accord? 

Electoral reform is one of the progressive policies that doesn't have to be established first at the federal level. It could be done immediately at the provincial level. Doing it first at the provincial level would actually make it easier to do later on at the federal level like medicare was.

If the BC NDP supports open-list MMP, why isn't it on their election platform? The election platform doesn't even mention electoral reform. So the BC NDP has no mandate to establish open-list MMP as they would have if they had put it in their election platform. Now if they decide to go ahead and establish it without a mandate they'll leave themselves open for a lot of criticism and blowback. The best they can do now is open up another process to take another look at electoral reform.  Time will tell if the BC NDP supports electoral reform. Hopefully they won't wait until it's too late and support electoral reform like the Saskatchewan NDP did when they proposed it toward the end of their mandate when the Saskatchewan Party was threatening their hold on power. We know how that story has turned out. Here in BC there is already talk of uniting the right so they can resume winning phony majority governments against a divided opposition. Maybe in BC we'll end up with our own version of the Saskatchewan Party?

Policywonk

contrarianna wrote:

Policywonk wrote:

contrarianna wrote:

Fidel wrote:

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Fidel are you reading tea leaves to determine what the BC NDP favour?  The BC NDP have never supported any specific type of PR in any election platform.

It says here that Carole James favours MMP.

Your circuitous citing of Con federal backbencher Scott Reid on what anti-STV Carol James "presumably" wants instead  of STV is hardly convincing of anything. It is certainly  a comically long way from the BCNDP  seriously  campaigning for ANY change from FPTP.

Obfuscation aside, no party that thinks it might win a phoney majority in the foreseeable future will ever take serious steps to organize for a more democratic voting system.
Democracy, as usual, is expendable to all who salivate for power.

The BC NDP has supported PR in general (and I believe MMP) in policy if not in platform.

Citation please.

I'm curious to see what an agreed-on BC NDP "policy-but-not-in-platform" looks like.
And if major changes to the electorial system were actually SERIOUSLY considered, why isn't the intended process even mentioned  in the platform?

Do you even know the difference between policy and platform? Policy is what is passed at Convention or Provincial Council. Not all of the policy gets into platform. I don't have access to the policy manual but I do remember several resolutions on PR being passed at the BC NDP Convention and if they mentioned or alluded to a specific system, if would have been MMP. There is though the suggestion of an all Party committee (not just those in the Legislature) to look at issues related to the banning of corporate and union donations. It is a stretch to say PR is a related issue but I could easily see this committee expanding its mandate to look at Proportional Representation. There is no way it would be the first priority of an NDP government, but I too wish it was mentioned in the platform.

 

contrarianna

"Not a priority" is an understatement.
 
Discussion and convention resolutions aside (elusive though they apparently are), no leader nor their backroom advisors will say outright they are: "against democracy because it might harm the chance of a phoney majority"--it merely fades into the vanishing point as "not a priority", and there are "more pressing isssues".

Such is the statement of Dix when asked:

Quote:
NDP won't 'destroy everything' the Liberals did, Dix says
Stewart Burnett, Oceanside Star
Published: Thursday, March 07, 2013

....
Asked about proportional representation, he said an NDP government would not likely act on it in its first term, and if it did, it would go to a referendum.
....
He said a problem with the NDP in the past is a desire to make a lot of changes at once, but stressed a more practical approach.

http://www2.canada.com/oceansidestar/news/story.html?id=70d9694f-23d2-4d...

And Dix's  "more practical approach" is the anti-democratic status quo with its phoney majorities.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

When the NDP says they have to go slow on spending for marginalized folks its all about not being able to afford it and there is some merit to that given the large hole dug by the BC Liberals in the last decade.  When they want to go slow on items like PR where there is no fiscal rationale they just don't want to make the change.

janfromthebruce

Or Dix means what he says - do a referendum.

contrarianna

janfromthebruce wrote:

Or Dix means what he says - do a referendum.

That, of course, is not what he says.
He says he would "not likely" act on it in the first term, but if this "not likely" did happen, it would be a referendum.

Fidel

kropotkin1951 wrote:

When the NDP says they have to go slow on spending for marginalized folks its all about not being able to afford it and there is some merit to that given the large hole dug by the BC Liberals in the last decade.  When they want to go slow on items like PR where there is no fiscal rationale they just don't want to make the change.

They could always do a lightning-quick public info campaign for pro-rep and try to quash it that way, like our Liberals in Ontario did. PR was a non-event in Ontario because most people didn't understand it.

It would be interesting to see what conditions an NDP government place on the referendum, and what kind of public info campaign they fund leading up to it. Go slow almost sounds like a good idea to me if they do it properly.

As for spending, look at Ontario. The Liberals have spent like drunken sailors Bob Rae-style times ten. I don't think they will win a phony-baloney majority next time, and it's because most people don't understand Keynesian stimulus spending. They want balanced budgets American-style and to eat their cake, too, with well-funded health care and education. Ask the average person on the street what neoliberalism is, and they don't have a clue. They don't have a clue because neoliberalism is inherently undemocratic, and the bastards make damn good and sure not to inform the public as to what they are up to. They've had to go slow with the neoliberalorama since the ideology failed so spectacularly in Chilean and Russian and U.S. experiments. It's failed in Ontario and dozens of U.S. states, but they refuse to tell people what the long-term agenda is for bankrupting government and pawning-off the family jewels and silverware to their big business friends.

Then ask them whether they think governments should balance budgets and "be responsible" with our tax dollars. I can tell you what most will say right now before we even ask them.Sure we need a fair and competitive electoral system to dig the country out of this colonial-extractive resource intensive economy weighting us down. The NDP needs federal power and lots of it!

 

Coldwell Coldwell's picture

Just a quick BC perspective on this, from someone who's been active in the BC and federal NDP on the issue of PR since 2000. 

In 2001 the BC NDP convention endorsed MMP for the first time--6 months after losing office. The party had done nothing about it in government. Andrew Petter was the only cabinet minister in the 1990s who was strongly in favour of it. He says the attitude of his colleagues to PR ranged from hostility to indifference. 

The 2003 convention reaffirmed MMP. By that time the Greens had launched a petititon campaign under the Recall and Initiative Act to force a provincial referendum on MMP. It fell short of the Act's almost impossibly steep threshold but is credited with pressuring Gordon Campbell to fulfill his 2001 campaign pledge to convene a citizens' assembly on electoral reform.

When the Citizens' Assembly endorsed STV in 2004, the Green leader, Adriane Carr, did not disguise her dismay. She refused to campaign for the yes side in the ensuing referendum. Many NDPers echoed her disdain for STV, including a surprising number of PR advocates. But it must be said that a larger number of New Democrats opposed STV because they opposed all forms of PR.  Bill Tielemann and David Schreck are only the most prominent among this latter group.

The NDP and Liberals remained officially neutral in the 2005 referendum on STV. Even so, it won the support of 58% of voters and secured majority votes in all but two of the province's ridings. Yet it "failed" because of the 60% super-majority requirement imposed by the Legislature. 

The NDP was officially non-committal again in 2009 when a second referendum on STV was held. By this time, opponents of electoral reform were better organized. Also, public interest in electoral reform had faded.  As a result only 36% voted in favour of STV.

The NDP hasn't said a thing about electoral reform since 2009, even though MMP remains official party policy. I don't expect Dix to do anything about it if the NDP forms government. If the party had had the foresight to enact it in the 1990s, they could have mitigated their losses in the 2001 election and perhaps returned to power in 2005. That would have spared us a lot of the damage inflicted by 12 years of Liberal government. 

 

contrarianna

@Coldwell. Thanks for that summation

janfromthebruce

he said an NDP government would not likely act on it in its first term, and if it did, it would go to a referendum.

Elsewhere above it was suggested that really what this meant was that they just don't want to make a change. However, instead of making an inference is just take it at face value which is "if it did, it would go to a referendum."

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Face value.

An NDP government would not likely act on it in its first term.

The platform does not contain a single word about changing the FPTP electoral system. It does not lay out any process for a referendum since it doesn't even mention it.

Doesn't sound like much a desire for electoral change to me. But then I can't read the NDP tea leaves as well as some on this site who can read all their desires into the party despite the fact that the party is not running on electoral change as an issue.

JKR

Coldwell wrote:

Just a quick BC perspective on this, from someone who's been active in the BC and federal NDP on the issue of PR since 2000. 

In 2001 the BC NDP convention endorsed MMP for the first time--6 months after losing office. The party had done nothing about it in government. Andrew Petter was the only cabinet minister in the 1990s who was strongly in favour of it. He says the attitude of his colleagues to PR ranged from hostility to indifference. 

Basically the same thing happened in Saskatchewan where the Sask NDP supported the idea of electoral reform only at the very end of their fourth term after 16 years in office when the Saskatchewan Party was far ahead of them in the polls.

Saskatchewan NDP pledges to convene citizens’ assembly - Oct 19, 2007 (Election day was Nov 7, 2007)

It makes sense that many in the BC NDP, especially the leadership, are reticent about getting rid of the single-member plurality (SMP) electoral system that creates a political system that's biased toward two established parties. Lets call a spade a spade, fair voting would take some power away from the leadership of the BC NDP and give it to the left wing side of their party. If we had fair voting the NDP wouldn't be able to tell socialists, social democrats, environmentalists, and others on the left that they have to support the BC NDP no matter what in order to avoid vote splitting and have the greatest political opponents of the left win power. SMP allows the BC NDP to almost blackmail their leftwing with the threat of vote splitting giving power to their political opposites. Fair voting would allow people on the left wing side of the NDP the option of forming new parties that better reflect their political outlook without the fear of vote splitting giving power to the right side of the political spectrum.

Also, FPTP is not an accurate name for our single-member plurality (SMP) voting system. Calling single-member plurality voting "First-past-the-post" gives SMP a huge rhetorical and propoganda advantage. The accurate name for FPTP is SMP or better yet the "two-party dominant system" (TPD).  I think it would be easy to win a referendum if we named FPTP accurately as SMP or TPD. The TPD system would be difficult to defend.

theleftyinvestor

JKR wrote:

Also, FPTP is not an accurate name for our single-member plurality (SMP) voting system. Calling single-member plurality voting "First-past-the-post" gives SMP a huge rhetorical and propoganda advantage. The accurate name for FPTP is SMP or better yet the "two-party dominant system" (TPD).  I think it would be easy to win a referendum if we named FPTP accurately as SMP or TPD. The TPD system would be difficult to defend.

TPD is not really an appropriate name as it describes a common (but not universal) outcome of the system, and not actually a characteristic of how the system works.

In Canada at the federal level, and in several provinces (but not really BC), the very strong regionalism has resulted in an anomaly where three or more parties can exist for multiple electoral cycles despite the inherent distortions of FPTP.

JKR

theleftyinvestor wrote:

JKR wrote:

Also, FPTP is not an accurate name for our single-member plurality (SMP) voting system. Calling single-member plurality voting "First-past-the-post" gives SMP a huge rhetorical and propoganda advantage. The accurate name for FPTP is SMP or better yet the "two-party dominant system" (TPD).  I think it would be easy to win a referendum if we named FPTP accurately as SMP or TPD. The TPD system would be difficult to defend.

TPD is not really an appropriate name as it describes a common (but not universal) outcome of the system, and not actually a characteristic of how the system works.

In Canada at the federal level, and in several provinces (but not really BC), the very strong regionalism has resulted in an anomaly where three or more parties can exist for multiple electoral cycles despite the inherent distortions of FPTP.

Then let's use it's formal name, single-member plurality (SMP). Using a euphemism like FPTP unfairly favours SMP. The term "First-Past-the-Post" is more appropriately used for the alternative vote electoral system that has a "post" of 50% +1.

There are examples of more than two parties being represented in legislatures in Canada but even in these cases two parties dominate these legislatures. There are no examples of multi-polar parliaments in Canada. In order to have that we would have to have some version of fair voting / proportional representation.

JKR

So will the BC NDP join the federal NDP and support fair voting / proportional representation or is PR only to be supported by the NDP when and where the NDP has little chance of winning a phony majority?

theleftyinvestor

I'll certainly say that a proportional system would have produced a very interesting result in this election. Neither an NDP/Green or Liberal/Con coalition would be possible without support from Independents and other minor parties. Reminiscent of Gillard's situation in the last Australian election.

Or, perhaps a Liberal/Green coalition could have resulted due to said math.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

That of course depends on the threshold used. If a 5% threshold is used (and that is what I have always preferred) then only the Greens, NDP and Liberals would have seats plus the Independent.

Liberal          - 44.14%

NDP              - 39.71%

Green            - 8.13%

Conservative  - 4.76%

http://electionsbcenr.blob.core.windows.net/electionsbcenr/GE-2013-05-14...

theleftyinvestor

Well... let's calculate this out using the MMP variation Ontario would have adopted - with a 3% threshold. I may or may not be treating Huntington's seat properly in this model. Let us assume for expediency's sake that it's 85 + 35 list seats, even though upon implementation there would probably be a reduction in constituency seats.

LIB 795946, NDP 715999, GP 146607, CP 85783, Vicki Huntington 11376.

Votes cast for parties that will be awarded seats (VH is not a party so she is not included): 1,744,335

Since this is an overhang-less model I believe the proper treatment is to treat VH as an "overhang" and reduce seats in the legislature by 1. Hence the quota is 1744335/119 = 14658.

Divide each vote total by the quota: LIB 54.30, NDP 48.85, GP 10.00, CP 5.85 <-- no additional overhangs here.

Full seats awarded: 54 + 48 + 10 + 5 + 1 = 118. Use highest remainders to award one more seat each to NDP, GP.

Final composition: LIB 55, NDP 49, GP 10, CP 6, IND 1. 

LIB + CP = 61 which is a bare majority in a 120-seat legislature. Clearly the exact composition of a given MMP model can drastically affect how a marginal outcome like this bears out.

----

And what if the threshold is instead 5%?

LIB 795946, NDP 715999, GP 146607, Vicki Huntington 11376.

Votes cast for parties that will be awarded seats: 1658552

The quota is 13937.

Divide each vote total by the quota: LIB 57.11, NDP 51.37, GP 10.51

Full seats awarded: 57 + 51 + 10 + 1 = 119. Use highest remainders to award one more seat to GP.

Final composition: LIB 57, NDP 51, GP 11, IND 1. Yes under this scenario the NDP and Greens can together form a nearly as bare majority of 62 seats.

However it is worth pointing out that under a proportional system, the CON list vote total would probably have shot above 5% as there were voters who wanted to vote CON and couldn't for lack of a local candidate. Hence it is reasonable to expect that even with a 5% threshold the CON vote would have been significant enough to help the Consliberals win.

Then again, under MMP the Green vote would also not have been artificially suppressed by fears of "splitting". Indeed, Green voters may have actually turned out in greater numbers knowing that their votes would count.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

Using a 3% threshold the BC Liberals would have a minority government and two parties capable of supporting any given piece of legislation.  The NDP and Greens are not the same so you cannot just add either their votes or their seats together in some grand scheme. Under the 5% threshold the Greens would wring a few concessions out of the BC Liberals and they would still form government. 

As for the speculation about how voters would react differently if there was MPP well that is merely SPECULATION.  I think that if there was MPP then a left wing ecology party would steal votes from both the NDP and Greens and with a low threshold like 3% they could very well end up in the legislature.

Policywonk

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Using a 3% threshold the BC Liberals would have a minority government and two parties capable of supporting any given piece of legislation.  The NDP and Greens are not the same so you cannot just add either their votes or their seats together in some grand scheme. Under the 5% threshold the Greens would wring a few concessions out of the BC Liberals and they would still form government. 

As for the speculation about how voters would react differently if there was MPP well that is merely SPECULATION.  I think that if there was MPP then a left wing ecology party would steal votes from both the NDP and Greens and with a low threshold like 3% they could very well end up in the legislature.

It would be an open question whether the Liberals and possibly even the NDP would remain intact in an MMP system. There would be no need for a right wing coalition Party to persist, even with a 5% threshold.

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

I think that the cabal that has run the BC NDP for the last 20 years understands that a MPP system would mean a quick decline in their parties fortunes and of course the right wing coalition knows that it could never again win an outright majority.  Therefore there is no way either party will advocate for a fairer voting system.

Wilf Day

kropotkin1951 wrote:

I think that the cabal that has run the BC NDP for the last 20 years understands that a MPP system would mean a quick decline in their parties fortunes and of course the right wing coalition knows that it could never again win an outright majority.  Therefore there is no way either party will advocate for a fairer voting system.

New Zealand Labour were not originally enthusiastic about MMP. Nonetheless, they learned to love it, and supported it in the recent referendum to keep it.

In 1999 the Labour Party won 49 seats in parliament. When combined with the ten seats won by the further-left Alliance (led by a former Labour MP Jim Anderton), the coalition was two seats short of an absolute majority. It was able to form a government with support from the Greens 7 seats. After Roger Douglas (the Thatcherite former Labour Finance Minister) had shown everyone the dangers of giving one party unbridled power, the mood of the country was for parties to work together.

In 2002 Labour won 52 seats (eight seats short of the half-way mark). Jim Anderton's Progressive Coalition won two seats. Their Coalition government was again short of a majority. It had a choice of an agreement with the Greens (9 seats) or the new centrist United Future with 8 (led by another former Labour MP, more centrist). After the Greens wanted terms on a genetic engineering controversy, Labour opted for United Future as an accord partner.

In 2005 Labour won 50 seats, plus Jim Anderton. This time they formed a broad accord with the Greens (6), United Future (3), and the populist New Zealand First (7), with an interesting innovation: the leaders of United Future and New Zealand First became Ministers "outside the cabinet."

Labour could not hold power forever, but in 2008 the conservative opposition National Party, with 45% of the vote, would have had a "false majority" under FPTP. Instead, it had 58 seats. Its further right potential partner ACT had 5, but rather than tie itself to ACT, it formed a more centrist accord with the Maori Party (5) and United Future (1). Labour could be happy that MMP had saved the country from a false majority one-party government with unbridled power.

In 2011 National's support rose to 47.3% of the party vote, and it won 59 seats, still two seats short of holding a majority. Again it formed a broad alliance with the Maori Party, United Future and ACT. Again MMP had saved the country from a false majority one-party government with unbridled power.

Get someone from New Zealand Labour to speak to the BC NDP about MMP. 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

New Zealand certainly shows the advantage of MPP. I am just not sure that the current party bosses are ever going to push for it.  The BC NDP needs a clean out of the old politicos starting with Moe and all the people in his circle.  I think it is conceivable that they would have done better in this last election if it had formed a major plank in their platform.  But of course they were expecting a phoney majority so they didn't push for it or run on it.

rakedover rakedover's picture

MMP would bring some interesting manuevering from Labor both Private and public. mmp would bring Unifor to life like a vlcano ,and a lot of other folk with them. the social progressive front needs a focussed and economically relevant labour presence. in a world of corporate monsters , a big political stick would make a tremendous policy difference.

JKR

Better late than never. The BC NDP convention passed a resolution committing the party to putting PR on their 2017 election platform! Smile

 

Vaughn Palmer: NDP avoids debating issues that matter to voters B.C. party convention: Delegates spent most of the weekend on motherhood  issues and hardy any time on the economy

Quote:
One involved a motion calling for the party to make “electoral reform and  proportional representation a priority” and “a fundamental plank of the next NDP  election platform.”

 

It looks like the BC NDP will have PR on their platform in 2017!  Laughing

Hopefully the party will also be able to come up with a strong and coprehensive plank on job creation, prosperity, and the economy so it can win the next election.

Wilf Day

rakedover wrote:

MMP would bring Unifor to life like a volcano.

I expect you're right, but do you have any specific reason for saying this?

Here's the B.C. New Democratic Party convention resolution:

Quote:
ELECTORAL REFORM IN BC

BECAUSE the current provincial electoral system contains major shortcomings generating a significant democratic deficit; and BECAUSE the decline in voter turnout in provincial elections in the last twenty years in BC has reached record lo...ws;

THE BC NDP WILL make electoral reform and proportional representation a priority issue within the Legislature and in communities across BC; and

THE BC NDP WILL make electoral reform a fundamental plank of the next NDP election platform. An NDP government will be elected with a strong mandate to make this needed reform a reality.

This was put forward by Burnaby-Lougheed riding. Other pro PR resolutions were put forward by Comox Valley, Saanich North and the Islands, and Vancouver-Langara,