Holding Liberal voters to account: Electoral reform first up

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Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Understandably the public's eyes generally glaze over when they are asked to review the slew of electoral systems and their copious amounts of acronyms like FPTP, MMP, STV, AV, IRV, etc... Understandably, the names of the electoral systems are unfamiliar to most voters.

I don't recall the public ever being asked to review more than two options, one of which was the familiar status quo.

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But a lack of interest by the public does not mean that governments should ignore issues it deems to be important. I think if a government deems that it is important to deal with an issue, it should go ahead and deal with it regardless of how popular or unpopular the issue is with the general public.

Do we elect representative governments to deal with those things that are of concern to us, or those things that aren't?

We've all seen this argument.  That the government should just go ahead and institute MMPR because the people are too thick and dull-witted to ever endorse this.  Sorry, but I don't buy it.  When I go to the polls, I'm electing a representative, not a third parent.

 

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

When I go to the polls, I'm electing a representative, not a third parent.

Usually when I go to the polls, I vote for somebody who doesn't get elected and get represented by somebody I didn't vote for, somebody that resembles George Orwell's Big Brother.

Rev Pesky

swallow wrote:

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You're telling me that those 4% who carried on to the final selection weren't self-selected?

No, your own source is telling you that they were not self-selected. There was an element of sorting, for sure, but self-selection has a specific meaning. Anyway, whatever. 

 

Pardon me, but the source I quoted very clearly showed the participants in the BC Citizen's Assembly were self-selected.

Rev Pesky

Mr. Magoo wrote:

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The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

If all we were doing when voting is choosing a local representative then it would work just fine.

The problem is that when we vote for our local MP (or MPP) then we're also, in a "one step removed" sense, voting for a party to lead the HoC, or our provincial equivalent. 

At the riding level it makes sense.  Who, if not the candidate with the greatest number of votes, should win?  Very straightforward.

But then we go mess it all up by saying that the Party with the greatest number of elected representatives gets to be "The Government", generally speaking.

Theoretically, another valid electoral reform could be to dispense with the idea of a Prime Minister, or a governing party, and just allow the HoC to be a place where votes take place.  There would be no special "prize" awarded to whatever party elected the most MPs -- it would just be regional representatives representing regions.

Another way to make the system better would be appoint an "Opposition", a formal part of the Parliament to be charged with examining and opposing measures introduced by the government. We coulde provide them with resources to do just that. Maybe we could assign that job to the second largest group in Parliament. We could even provide an official residence for that group's leader.

A third thing we could do is allow any person elected to sit in the Parliament, whether they were part of a group or not. While they wouldn't have the official designation of "Opposition", they too could question the government, present amendments of their own to proposed legislation, and vote against legislation they disagreed with. There wouldn't be a cut-off percentage, so any person who could convince a majority of their constituents to vote for them would have the right to sit in the Parliament and represent those constituents.

 

mark_alfred

Send a letter about proportional representation to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today! 

https://secure.fairvote.ca/en/action/open-letter-to-justin-trudeau

Rev Pesky

Some of the overheated rhetoric from the fairvote letter:

 

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...On October 19th, over 9,000,000 voters (51.8%) were unable to make their vote count and elect a representative to bring their voice to Ottawa. The country elected a majority Liberal government, but as usual, did so with less than a majority of the vote (39.5%). Most Liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan, New Democrats and Conservatives in Toronto and Atlantic Canada, and Greens nearly everywhere elected no representation to Parliament. That is unfair. It is also the root cause of much of the cynicism, apathy and negativity people feel about elections, politicians and Parliament.

I disagree. I suggest the root cause of the cynicism that voters feel has to do with the fact that capital holds the reins in it's hands, and most voters understand this very well. As I've shown elsewhere, participation in elections is dropping in most of the world, regardless of the voting system used.

 

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...Voters were inspired when you promised to make 2015 the last election using first-past-the-post and to modernize our voting system to “make every vote count”. Implicit in that promise is your understanding that over half of all voters are unable to elect a representative of their choice – that voters are not treated as political equals and they should be.

Everybody gets a vote, and every vote is counted as a vote. Apparently fairvote hasn't figured that out yet.

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...Voter equality – making every citizen’s vote count equally...

There is no system in the world that does this (in terms of outcome). Proportional representation systems discover early on that not having a cut-off percentage of vote creates serious problems with trying to run a country. So they institute cut-offs. Then they see that the party that receives the greatest vote can be shut out of government altogether, so they institute bonus seats, or some other arrangement to make sure that doesn't happen. then the voters complain because they have no local representation, so they change the system to allow for that. In fact, the changes to the system are ongoing, and all because proprotional representation does not deliver what the proponents say it will.

And lest we forget, an election is a snapshot in time. What the voters decide tomorrow may be completely different that what they decided today. We see this in the polling that shows a majority of voters are happy with the Liberal majority government, and the NDP, which got something like 19% of the electoral vote, showed a drop in support to 12% in a matter of weeks.

I put it to the proportional representation types that a clear majority of Canadians are reasonably happy with the outcome of this election. That would perforce include some people who voted for the NDP, and others who voted for the Conservatives, or Green. In other words, just because someone votes for the candidate from a particular party it doesn't mean they necessarily want them to form a government, or even be part of one.  

What bothers me more than anything is the proportional representation types constant shouting "Unfair" from the rooftops. Unfair compared to what. The Greeks have a proprotional representation electoral system, and elected a government based on it's promise that they would not knuckle under to the austerity measures imposed by European bankers. To solidify that support, the proportional government held a referendum that passed with a majority (of the kind the PR types like, more than 50%). What was the outcome of that 'fairer' system? More stringent austerity measures than had been proposed at the start, with the proportional government collapsiing like a house of cards.

Gee, you wonder why voters become disenchanted? As it turns out, those millions of voters, with their proportional system (and referendum, to boot) found out that a handful of bankers had more votes than they did. So much for the equality of proprotional representation.

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