Proportional Representation: Let's make 2015 the last unfair election

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JKR

Electoral reform can be nuanced and complicated. There are two kinds of runoff voting systems: STV and AV. STV stands for "single transferable vote," while AV stands for "alternative vote." STV is proportional, while AV is majoritarian. Both systems are used in Australia. AV for the Australian House of Representatives. STV for the Australian Senate. Both AV and STV are the same system except that STV is used in multi-member constituencies while AV is used in single-member constituencies. This is why STV is proportional and AV is majoritarian. In the U.S. AV is called "instant runoff voting, IRV for short. FairVote USA supports IRV as being a much fairer system than FPTP.

The Liberal Democrats in the UK support STV. Because they are a third party the only way they can get fair representation is through p.r. I suspect if the LPC became a third party here, they too would support p.r. probably the MMP system the NDP supports.

Because Canada's has a huge land mass with a relatively small population, MMP is the best system of proportional representation for Canada. With a much smaller land mass and much larger population, STV makes more sense for the UK although MMP is used in Scotland and Wales. STV is used in Ireland.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed-member_proportional_representation

Even though it is patently unfair, FPTP is easy to understand. That's why a lot of people who are open to having a fair electoral system support having the two round system where a second FPTP election occurs between the two top finishers when the first FPTP election does not provide a majority. This system is worse than AV but a lot of people support it because it is easy to understand. I'm sure it would pass a referendum even though it is worse than AV, STV, and MMP.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-round_system

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runoff_voting

JKR

Political parties in Canada don't use FPTP for their own elections. They use AV or multi-round runoff voting instead.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

So I guess I support AV then. A subsequent "runoff" vote will tend to polarize the electorate into a choice between a crook and a fascist or something equally as dismal. One way around this is compulsory voting. I think that the "landmass" issue is a red herring. Canada is a parliamentary democracy in 2015 CE. Our system does not worry about riding logistics because the votes are counted in the polling stations and phoned in by the DROs to the Returning Officer. As far as this part goes, Canada's example is Best Practice in the field.

Especially in today's environment, distance is not a factor.

I really really don't like the idea of Party lists. I would rather have FPTP than Party lists. Parties could put up people there you really really hate and then you might have to vote for it as the lesser of evils. We need to be able to punish candidates as well as parties. Otherwise there is no recourse.

 

Doug Woodard

JKR wrote:

Electoral reform can be nuanced and complicated. There are two kinds of runoff voting systems: STV and AV. STV stands for "single transferable vote," while AV stands for "alternative vote." STV is proportional, while AV is majoritarian. Both systems are used in Australia. AV for the Australian House of Representatives. STV for the Australian Senate. Both AV and STV are the same system except that STV is used in multi-member constituencies while AV is used in single-member constituencies. This is why STV is proportional and AV is majoritarian. In the U.S. AV is called "instant runoff voting, IRV for short. 

JKR, you have glossed over some points. AV/IRV is a form of single transferable vote used to fill one place. It's possible to use STV in a multi-seat constituency without a quota, when it becomes equivalent to the "bloc voting" form of FPTP; the more places to be filled the less the proportionality, as the Australians found when they used it for their federal Senate for several decades. The proportional form of STV is usually called PR-STV, in Australia often "quota-preferential voting." It depends on the use of a quota which candidates must meet (except for the last elected from a consituency). After their vote exceeds quota, surplus and unneeded votes are transferred to the next candidate ranked on each ballot. The quota generally used is usually the Droop quota (after its inventor H. R. Droop, an English lawyer who published it about 1869), which is obtained by dividing the number of valid votes in the constituency by a number 1 more than the number of places to be filled and increasing it to the next larger whole number. Then the number of votes needed to elect an MP is held to the minimum necessary. The same quota can be used for the rest of the election in a constituency after being calculated once, or quota can be recalculated for each round of the count, as ballots become "exhausted" because the voter did not rank enough choices.

Proportionality requires multi-seat constituencies plus some form of quota, so that a minimum share of votes needed to be elected is established. For example with MMP the national or regional list meets this requirement, and the constituency vote is nested within it. The highest-average system often used with lists can be regarded as another form of quota.

By the way, for people who want a thorough explanation of PR systems, I recommend Enid Lakeman's "How Democracies Vote." 

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
I really really don't like the idea of Party lists.

The optics of party lists are abysmal.  How will they not end up looking like synecures for the unelectable "stalwarts"?

Is there any flavour of PR under which the party list must be made, if possible, from those unelected candidates who actually ran and who came closest to a plurality BEFORE dipping into the list of folk the party feel indebted to?

In other words, what if, when your party wins and needs to appoint some extra reps, those reps were automatically chosen from candidates who placed second in actual ridings with actual votes cast in their support?

Doug Woodard

JKR wrote:

Even though it is patently unfair, FPTP is easy to understand. That's why a lot of people who are open to having a fair electoral system support having the two round system where a second FPTP election occurs between the two top finishers when the first FPTP election does not provide a majority. This system is worse than AV but a lot of people support it because it is easy to understand. I'm sure it would pass a referendum even though it is worse than AV, STV, and MMP.

I think that there is a kind of balance in the complexities of electoral systems. With FPTV it is easy to understand the count, but the implications are complex, weird and wonderful. Systems of proportional representation produce a clearer and simpler approach to having everyone equally represented in a parliament, but the means by which they do so become more opaque to the non-specialist who is unwilling to spend time in study; and the more clear and simple the results, the more opaque the count (e.g. Meek PR-STV).

I suspect that modern electoral reform in North America is more difficult because we have a kind of redneck populist attitude among the public and very little confidence in any kind of elite; whereas existing systems of PR are mostly the product of a time 70-110 years ago when there was more confidence in elites, even if only those of one's own party - and there was more party allegiance.

I suspect also that many people have an attitude that there must be one perfect kind of God-ordained democracy which must be easy to understand, and I suspect that reality is more complex than that.

Glenl

Having people appointed from lists sounds like the senate to me. What's not to like about that.

Doug Woodard

montrealer58 wrote:

I really really don't like the idea of Party lists. I would rather have FPTP than Party lists. Parties could put up people there you really really hate and then you might have to vote for it as the lesser of evils. We need to be able to punish candidates as well as parties. Otherwise there is no recourse.

You seem to be talking about closed lists, and you seem to have forgotten the many kinds of open-list systems. For example, the Finnish system:

which uses constituencies electing up to 30+ MPs but mostly around 10. You vote for one person on your party's list. Your vote counts in allocating votes to the total of your candidate's party, and so determines how may seats that party is allocated in the constituency. Within each party the candidate's vote total determines the order in which candidates are selected from the list to fill the party's seats in that constituency. So the voters decide which of the candidates on the lists actually get seats in Parliament.

Don't forget that parties have an interest in having attractive candidates on the list. If the candidates on the list are not attractive, the party will get fewer votes and win fewer seats. Jobs for the boys may be a factor, but that usually takes second place to getting into power. Often the party members elect the list candidates, and this can be specified in the election law.

JKR

montrealer58 wrote:

I really really don't like the idea of Party lists. I would rather have FPTP than Party lists. Parties could put up people there you really really hate and then you might have to vote for it as the lesser of evils. We need to be able to punish candidates as well as parties. Otherwise there is no recourse.

 

There are versions of MMP that don't have party lists. The NDP favours MMP. "Open list" MMP and "best-runners up" MMP both don't require party lists. Open-list MMP is used in Bavaria while best runners-up MMP is used in Baden-Wurttemberg.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Is there any flavour of PR under which the party list must be made, if possible, from those unelected candidates who actually ran and who came closest to a plurality BEFORE dipping into the list of folk the party feel indebted to?

In other words, what if, when your party wins and needs to appoint some extra reps, those reps were automatically chosen from candidates who placed second in actual ridings with actual votes cast in their support?

That flavour of PR exists and is used in the German land (state) government of Baden-Wurttemberg. It's a form of MMP. The NDP supports MMP.

Open-list MMP also does not have party lists. It's used in the German land government of Bavaria.

JKR

Doug Woodard wrote:

JKR wrote:

Even though it is patently unfair, FPTP is easy to understand. That's why a lot of people who are open to having a fair electoral system support having the two round system where a second FPTP election occurs between the two top finishers when the first FPTP election does not provide a majority. This system is worse than AV but a lot of people support it because it is easy to understand. I'm sure it would pass a referendum even though it is worse than AV, STV, and MMP.

I think that there is a kind of balance in the complexities of electoral systems. With FPTV it is easy to understand the count, but the implications are complex, weird and wonderful. Systems of proportional representation produce a clearer and simpler approach to having everyone equally represented in a parliament, but the means by which they do so become more opaque to the non-specialist who is unwilling to spend time in study; and the more clear and simple the results, the more opaque the count (e.g. Meek PR-STV).

I suspect that modern electoral reform in North America is more difficult because we have a kind of redneck populist attitude among the public and very little confidence in any kind of elite; whereas existing systems of PR are mostly the product of a time 70-110 years ago when there was more confidence in elites, even if only those of one's own party - and there was more party allegiance.

I suspect also that many people have an attitude that there must be one perfect kind of God-ordained democracy which must be easy to understand, and I suspect that reality is more complex than that.

Better electoral systems are often complex. Unfortunately that doesn't make for an easy sell in a binary referendum where most voters don't have enough information. That's one reason many people believe electoral reform should be established without a referendum. Instead extensive consultations with the public, experts, and politicians, is seen by many as the best way to establish electoral reform. Reaching a consensus might be possible using that kind of method.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
Unfortunately that doesn't make for an easy sell in a binary referendum where most voters don't have enough information.

Then perhaps we should work to make sure that anyone who wishes to access Wikipedia can.

Quote:
That's one reason many people believe electoral reform should be established without a referendum.

And the other reason is "then we don't have to worry about dimwits voting against it!!"

Quote:
Reaching a consensus might be possible using that kind of method.

I believe that would be known as "reaching a consensus among those who agree with us".

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Unfortunately that doesn't make for an easy sell in a binary referendum where most voters don't have enough information.

Then perhaps we should work to make sure that anyone who wishes to access Wikipedia can.

Quote:
That's one reason many people believe electoral reform should be established without a referendum.

And the other reason is "then we don't have to worry about dimwits voting against it!!"

Quote:
Reaching a consensus might be possible using that kind of method.

I believe that would be known as "reaching a consensus among those who agree with us".

I agree it might be better if we had a system of direct democracy where major political decisions were made through referendums. Maybe it would be better if issues like constitutional change, entering into wars, international trade agreements, justice, taxation, social programs, etc..., were decided by referendum. It might have been better if issues like NAFTA had gone to a referendum, or entering the conflict in Iraq and Syria, or patriating the constitution, or changing taxation rates, etc.... But we live in a representative democracy where decisions are made by the elected members of the House of Commons and provincial legislatures. Since electoral reform is not a constitutional issue it can be decided by a simple majority in the House of Commons or in any of the provincial legislatures.

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

The reason we have "redneck attitudes" about "elitists" is that we are sick of ineffective parasites who take it all for themselves and leave us nothing.

We like to think of ourselves as a free people who do not want a modern aristocracy based on nepotism, which Justin Trudeau perfectly embodies.

We are also extremely suspcious of the political and corporate corruption which has been going on for far too long, and has left Alberta broke.

Is that clear enough?

Glenl

I find it ironic when supporters of democratic reform consider it too important to be decided by democratic means. The only power we have is in the periodic opportunity to vote. Any government who fundamentally changes how that works, without asking for consent from the voters, may not like the outcome. It may be easy to believe that our view is the majority view and they will be so grateful that we fixed it for them, without bothering them with the details, but that's the type of arrogance that sometimes gets the boot. And rightly so.

Doug Woodard

montrealer58 wrote:

The reason we have "redneck attitudes" about "elitists" is that we are sick of ineffective parasites who take it all for themselves and leave us nothing.

We like to think of ourselves as a free people who do not want a modern aristocracy based on nepotism, which Justin Trudeau perfectly embodies.

We are also extremely suspcious of the political and corporate corruption which has been going on for far too long, and has left Alberta broke.

Is that clear enough?

montrealer58, what do you have to say about the suckers who fell for "coalitions are for losers" and Harper's line that the biggest party has the right to rule (even if it's the biggest minority)?

We have seen on this list people who were sure they knew things about proportional representation when in fact they did not. That's OK, ignorance is the human condition; I know well how ignorant I am about many things. However, I have met and read many people who knew things about PR that weren't so, and were not interested in learning, who thought that PR was "too complicated" and who thought that FPTP was perfectly simple and that they understood all its consequences and implications. What do we call that kind of smug complacency?

When I wanted to learn about proportional representation, I read many articles and several books. Some I had to buy. Not everyone can do that; many of us have to work with imperfect information and rely much on the judgement of others. I do object to the attitude that many people have, that they know it all already and don't have to learn anything. I see that proportional representation was adopted first in Europe and Australia and I wonder why.

Corruption flourishes in the dark.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Glenl wrote:
I find it ironic when supporters of democratic reform consider it too important to be decided by democratic means. The only power we have is in the periodic opportunity to vote. Any government who fundamentally changes how that works, without asking for consent from the voters, may not like the outcome. It may be easy to believe that our view is the majority view and they will be so grateful that we fixed it for them, without bothering them with the details, but that's the type of arrogance that sometimes gets the boot. And rightly so.

In our system, the way a party "asks consent from the voters" is to put a plank in their platform, campaign on it, and win election. This is the way everything works, and there is no reason whatsoever for electoral reform to be any different. The NDP is making P.R. a high profile part of their platform for this election, so they will have consent to implement it if they are elected.

Glenl

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Glenl wrote:
I find it ironic when supporters of democratic reform consider it too important to be decided by democratic means. The only power we have is in the periodic opportunity to vote. Any government who fundamentally changes how that works, without asking for consent from the voters, may not like the outcome. It may be easy to believe that our view is the majority view and they will be so grateful that we fixed it for them, without bothering them with the details, but that's the type of arrogance that sometimes gets the boot. And rightly so.

In our system, the way a party "asks consent from the voters" is to put a plank in their platform, campaign on it, and win election. This is the way everything works, and there is no reason whatsoever for electoral reform to be any different. The NDP is making P.R. a high profile part of their platform for this election, so they will have consent to implement it if they are elected.

As long as they provide all the details of what type of PR and how it works I'm fine with that. If it's a general we support PR and don't worry about the details we will look after you, then I'm not fine with it.

Glenl

I'm prepared to vote NDP in October but I'm not prepared to give any government a blank check on some vague reform, voting is the only power I have and I'm a little protective of it. It's not like budgets and such, it's a fundamental.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Glenl wrote:
As long as they provide all the details of what type of PR and how it works I'm fine with that. If it's a general we support PR and don't worry about the details we will look after you, then I'm not fine with it.

Well, they have stated that they intend to implement a form of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting. They haven't specified finer details like what will be the sizes of the regions, or what method will be used to select the Regional MPs. Instead, they promise to hold wide consultations on what would work best in Canada. This is more than sufficient for me, but perhaps not for you. In that case, you can vote against the NDP in this year's election.

Glenl

After they decide what's best, why not ask the actual voters? Consultations never reaches the people I hang out with. I believe Mr Prentice did a lot of consultations on his last budget.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Glenl wrote:
After they decide what's best, why not ask the actual voters? Consultations never reaches the people I hang out with. I believe Mr Prentice did a lot of consultations on his last budget.

I strongly disagree with you that voting procedures are any different than budgets or trade agreements, or criminal code amendments. Holding a vote on one and not the others is something that you think would be good, but I do not. We'll just have to agree to disagree.

Glenl

Fair enough

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Doug Woodard wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:

The reason we have "redneck attitudes" about "elitists" is that we are sick of ineffective parasites who take it all for themselves and leave us nothing.

We like to think of ourselves as a free people who do not want a modern aristocracy based on nepotism, which Justin Trudeau perfectly embodies.

We are also extremely suspcious of the political and corporate corruption which has been going on for far too long, and has left Alberta broke.

Is that clear enough?

montrealer58, what do you have to say about the suckers who fell for "coalitions are for losers" and Harper's line that the biggest party has the right to rule (even if it's the biggest minority)?

We have seen on this list people who were sure they knew things about proportional representation when in fact they did not. That's OK, ignorance is the human condition; I know well how ignorant I am about many things. However, I have met and read many people who knew things about PR that weren't so, and were not interested in learning, who thought that PR was "too complicated" and who thought that FPTP was perfectly simple and that they understood all its consequences and implications. What do we call that kind of smug complacency?

When I wanted to learn about proportional representation, I read many articles and several books. Some I had to buy. Not everyone can do that; many of us have to work with imperfect information and rely much on the judgement of others. I do object to the attitude that many people have, that they know it all already and don't have to learn anything. I see that proportional representation was adopted first in Europe and Australia and I wonder why.

Corruption flourishes in the dark.

If you need to read many articles and books to understand a political system, you are not going to sell it on the doorstep. If people are resisting your approach, they may feel like you are trying to screw with their political system. If people feel you are getting condescending (by calling them rednecks and things), they will get increasingly hostile. It is kind of simple psychology.

And those who do not understand the emotional component lose badly in politics.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage was whining about FPTP, and although FPTP should go, a PR system would have elected around 40 extreme anti-immigrant right wingers to the UK parliament.

If FPTP can keep the barbarians from the gates, maybe there is something left in it. A 50% + 1 AV-type majoritarian system with a 1-2-3-4-5 is easy to understand. It would be better than FPTP and it would also keep the Nigel Farages of the world at bay.

The other reason for my hostility at people who want to change the system right now is that they are trying to distract attention from the momentum that the NDP has across the country. Let us focus on getting rid of Harper under a united NDP banner and talk about electoral reform then.

 

takeitslowly

the fact that Trudeau doesnt support Bill C 51 tied into his opposition to porportional representation, imo. Its about democracy and I support PR. I was never asked if i support FPTP. Despite the NDP majority in Alberta, i am disappointed that they decided to not mention it anymore. PR does not always produce the best result, look at Israel's recent election, but it is representative of the people's choices

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

montrealer58 wrote:

The other reason for my hostility at people who want to change the system right now is that they are trying to distract attention from the momentum that the NDP has across the country. Let us focus on getting rid of Harper under a united NDP banner and talk about electoral reform then.

On the contrary, I think that electoral reform is much more important in making permanent progress to a better society than removing Harper from government. If new parties can never win representation in parliament, new ideas will never have a chance to be heard, or at least never have a chance to be taken seriously.

Wilf Day

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Glenl wrote:
As long as they provide all the details of what type of PR and how it works I'm fine with that. If it's a general we support PR and don't worry about the details we will look after you, then I'm not fine with it.

Well, they have stated that they intend to implement a form of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting. They haven't specified finer details like what will be the sizes of the regions, or what method will be used to select the Regional MPs. Instead, they promise to hold wide consultations on what would work best in Canada. This is more than sufficient for me, but perhaps not for you. In that case, you can vote against the NDP in this year's election.

They have not specified the region size, but they HAVE specified how the Regional MPs will be elected. From the Dec. 3 Hansard:

Quote:
Craig Scott: "Let us call it a one ballot, two votes approach. Under the first vote, on a single ballot, citizens elect a single local MP to represent their riding. With the second vote, they vote for a candidate, on a list, of the party they prefer. . . . Under the system we would advocate, individual voters could actually go into the list and say, “That is the order the party set, but I do not prefer that order. I prefer this person to move up in the order. . . .a direct appointment by a single leader of any MP, let alone all these MPs, is anti-democratic. . . . there would be regional MPs in the House of Commons to create the balance to make sure that the parties are represented according to the popular vote. That is the system. Everybody would be elected, and on the second vote people could determine who they want to vote for on the party list.”

His colleague Alexandrine  Latendresse added "People would first vote for the person they want to represent their riding. Then they would vote for a candidate on a list who belongs to the party they prefer. . . What we are proposing is an open list that would allow people to vote directly for the candidates they prefer."

 

montrealer58 montrealer58's picture

Michael Moriarity wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:

The other reason for my hostility at people who want to change the system right now is that they are trying to distract attention from the momentum that the NDP has across the country. Let us focus on getting rid of Harper under a united NDP banner and talk about electoral reform then.

On the contrary, I think that electoral reform is much more important in making permanent progress to a better society than removing Harper from government. If new parties can never win representation in parliament, new ideas will never have a chance to be heard, or at least never have a chance to be taken seriously.

 

Sorry, but the threat to our freedoms from the Harper regime and C-51 is extremely urgent. There cannot be any other cause at this time.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Wilf Day wrote:

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Glenl wrote:
As long as they provide all the details of what type of PR and how it works I'm fine with that. If it's a general we support PR and don't worry about the details we will look after you, then I'm not fine with it.

Well, they have stated that they intend to implement a form of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting. They haven't specified finer details like what will be the sizes of the regions, or what method will be used to select the Regional MPs. Instead, they promise to hold wide consultations on what would work best in Canada. This is more than sufficient for me, but perhaps not for you. In that case, you can vote against the NDP in this year's election.

They have not specified the region size, but they HAVE specified how the Regional MPs will be elected. From the Dec. 3 Hansard:

Quote:
Craig Scott: "Let us call it a one ballot, two votes approach. Under the first vote, on a single ballot, citizens elect a single local MP to represent their riding. With the second vote, they vote for a candidate, on a list, of the party they prefer. . . . Under the system we would advocate, individual voters could actually go into the list and say, “That is the order the party set, but I do not prefer that order. I prefer this person to move up in the order. . . .a direct appointment by a single leader of any MP, let alone all these MPs, is anti-democratic. . . . there would be regional MPs in the House of Commons to create the balance to make sure that the parties are represented according to the popular vote. That is the system. Everybody would be elected, and on the second vote people could determine who they want to vote for on the party list.”

His colleague Alexandrine  Latendresse added "People would first vote for the person they want to represent their riding. Then they would vote for a candidate on a list who belongs to the party they prefer. . . What we are proposing is an open list that would allow people to vote directly for the candidates they prefer."

 

Thanks for the correction. I hadn't seen these quotes.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

montrealer58 wrote:

Michael Moriarity wrote:

montrealer58 wrote:

The other reason for my hostility at people who want to change the system right now is that they are trying to distract attention from the momentum that the NDP has across the country. Let us focus on getting rid of Harper under a united NDP banner and talk about electoral reform then.

On the contrary, I think that electoral reform is much more important in making permanent progress to a better society than removing Harper from government. If new parties can never win representation in parliament, new ideas will never have a chance to be heard, or at least never have a chance to be taken seriously.

 

Sorry, but the threat to our freedoms from the Harper regime and C-51 is extremely urgent. There cannot be any other cause at this time.

Fortunately, it so happens that the 2 causes are not in conflict. Only an NDP government will implement P.R., and that will also be the end of the Harper government.

Pondering

Isn't it wonderful that Alberta has a majority NDP government. Now they can do proof of concept and the rest of Canada can see PR implemented and see how wonderful it is.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I wouldn't expect the Alberta NDP government to bring in P.R. because they did not campaign on it. The federal case will be quite different.

Pondering

So why didn't they campaign on it? Why can't they promote it now if PR is so wonderful?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

I don't know why the ANDP has decided not to make PR a priority, and I don't particularly care. What I do care about is that the federal NDP have made it a priority, and if they form the next government, 2015 will be our last unfair election.

thorin_bane

Pondering wrote:

So why didn't they campaign on it? Why can't they promote it now if PR is so wonderful?


why do you gt away with your passive aggresive shitheadedness

Doug Woodard

Let's hope that Liberals are susceptible to the wisdom of Michael Ignatieff on PR:

https://fruitsandvotes.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/the-most-dysfunctional-a...

 

Doug Woodard

Golden oldies: Henry Droop's thoughts on proportional representation:

http://laderafrutal.com/blog/wp-content/droop.html

 

bekayne

Michael Moriarity wrote:

I wouldn't expect the Alberta NDP government to bring in P.R. because they did not campaign on it. The federal case will be quite different.

It was in their platform.

Mr. Magoo

Ya, it's really shameful the way the OTHER parties just keep sabotaging PR, like they totally hate people or hate democracy or whatever.  Probably both!

But it's not the NDP's fault for not being the change they want to see in the world if they didn't explicitly campaign around it... or even if they did.

White Cat White Cat's picture

Yes the NDP has won majorities in most provinces over the past 25 years. Yet none have PR.

In BC, the doomed PR movement was actually in reaction to an NDP government winning a "majority" on less of the vote than the Liberal party. The BC NDP actually campaigned against it. (Some old school BC NDPers are still vehemently opposed to PR, even though the party is now thinking of the system after being excluded from power since 2001.)

The primary reason the AB NDP will not implement PR is because the party will have little chance of forming a government under the system. The two right-wing parties got 52% of the vote in the recent election the NDP "won".

The reason Canada is still stuck in the 19th century is because of partisanship and aristocratic influence over the media (which either buries or attacks the issue of electoral reform.) Partisans love the idea of absolute power on less than 40% of the vote. Plutocrats benefit from a de facto two-party system and minority-party dictatorships (much easier to "capture.") 

White Cat White Cat's picture

I think, despite the recent surge in the polls from Mulcair's NDP, federal PR is still a remote possibility.

For one, although the AB NDP won a false majority, it benefitted from right-wing vote splitting and a non-existent Liberal party. Mulcair faces a united Con party and a strong Liberal party. Second, if Mulcair won he would face a Conservative senate that would kill any attempt to legislate PR without a referendum. (The corporate media would be up in arms like never seen before.)

The best shot we have at real democracy will require democracy. Since Canadians are divided on the issue — the three major positions being: First-Past-the-Post, Proportional Representation and Ranked Ballot Voting — all three options should be put on a referendum ballot. Otherwise FPTP likely will win by default as voters whose preference is excluded will tend to opt for the status quo or not vote at all.

Since plurality would produce arbitrary results, a runoff referendum would be required to ensure one system has the support of a majority.

New Zealand used a similar process to achieve PR: dual referendums. First referendum: Should we change the voting system? What alternative system? Second referendum: PR MMP (won first referendum) vs. FPTP.

A three-option referendum with a runoff referendum would be better, not giving FPTP an undeserved premium position in the voting process.

The strategy among PR supporters to prevent Canadians from choosing Ranked Ballot Voting is ultimately self-defeating (not to mention anti-democratic.) The PR movement can recover from a 3-option referendum loss. But it will not recover from a fifth PR referendum defeat. 

mark_alfred

bekayne wrote:

Michael Moriarity wrote:

I wouldn't expect the Alberta NDP government to bring in P.R. because they did not campaign on it. The federal case will be quite different.

It was in their platform.

I think you're wrong about that.  I don't think it was in the platform that the NDP campaigned on.

ETA: The platform is still available here:  http://www.albertandp.ca/platform

Anyway, as I thought, there's no mention of proportional representation in it.  The only mention of electoral reform that I could find was the following:

NDP platform wrote:
( 2.4) We will amend the Elections Act to prohibit MLAs from using government resources during elections and we will ensure the Chief Electoral officer can effectively investigate breaches of the Act.

Doug Woodard

White Cat wrote:

Yes the NDP has won majorities in most provinces over the past 25 years. Yet none have PR.

In BC, the doomed PR movement was actually in reaction to an NDP government winning a "majority" on less of the vote than the Liberal party. The BC NDP actually campaigned against it. (Some old school BC NDPers are still vehemently opposed to PR, even though the party is now thinking of the system after being excluded from power since 2001.)

The primary reason the AB NDP will not implement PR is because the party will have little chance of forming a government under the system. The two right-wing parties got 52% of the vote in the recent election the NDP "won".

The reason Canada is still stuck in the 19th century is because of partisanship and aristocratic influence over the media (which either buries or attacks the issue of electoral reform.) Partisans love the idea of absolute power on less than 40% of the vote. Plutocrats benefit from a de facto two-party system and minority-party dictatorships (much easier to "capture.") 

Some NDPers seem to like the thought of being able to implement their program without obstruction by representatives of the majority of voters for a while at least. However they seldom have a chance to get very far with it before being thrown out, and then the right wing undos what they did. PR systems in Europe reduce the role of ideological enthusiasts and result in more consensual governments more friendly to the interests of most people. I expect that most NDPers would prefer to have had governments more similar to those of say Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland over the last few decades, than to the governments we have experienced. Maybe the federal NDP and Mr. Mulcair have drawn the correct conclusions.

White Cat White Cat's picture

Doug Woodard wrote:

Some NDPers seem to like the thought of being able to implement their program without obstruction by representatives of the majority of voters for a while at least. However they seldom have a chance to get very far with it before being thrown out, and then the right wing undos what they did. PR systems in Europe reduce the role of ideological enthusiasts and result in more consensual governments more friendly to the interests of most people. I expect that most NDPers would prefer to have had governments more similar to those of say Denmark, Sweden, Germany and Switzerland over the last few decades, than to the governments we have experienced. Maybe the federal NDP and Mr. Mulcair have drawn the correct conclusions.

Agree that if we had PR we would be much better off. Over the past 30 years, we've had successive Neo-Con and fake Liberal governments that represented the interests of wealthy businessmen and investors at everyone else's expense, while the economy got progressively worse. If we had real democracy, we would've got practical center-left policies instead of right-wing neoclassical ideology.

Ranked Ballot Voting, although it doesn't distribute federal votes to parties like PR, would've achieved similar results. It stops the vote-splitting that produces minority-party dictatorships (how 37% of the vote can be turned into over 50% of the seats.)

Although I'm not sure of Mulcair's exact plan on PR, it does appear irrational to have the goal of getting a false-majority dictatorship to force a voting system on Canadians against their will. Not only is this a long-shot bet, it risks poisoning Canadians against the idea of PR when the business community and media foment a public uproar against the ploy.

But I guess that's the biggest problem with politics. Everyone feels they are in the right and are therefore justified in forcing their belief system on everyone else. Of course, the only minority that is ever successful at this is the business caste. If other minorities want to get their way, the only chance they have is to convince a majority they are right. (A process the PR minority is now opposed to after having lost a number of poorly-designed referendums.)

 

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

White Cat, every piece of legislation that has ever been passed, on every subject, according to your point of view, has been an example of the ruling party "forcing their belief system on everyone else". It makes no sense to me to suggest that changes to the voting system should be more difficult to make than investor rights treaties or mandatory minimum sentences. How can you justify such a double standard?

Mr. Magoo

The problem is that changes to the voting system become changes to the way that people can object to those changes.

Change mandatory minimums, and the electorate can reverse that in, at most, four years.

Change the Elections Act to make elections every 20 years, and the electorate can reverse that in, at best, 20 years.

Maybe more to the point, though, there have been at least three referenda on PR, none of which demonstrated a great deal of support for changing how we vote for the first time in 148 years.  In fact, when BC held a second referendum on PR, to clarify the first, MORE voters voted against PR than in the first referendum.  Does that sound like a mandate to just go ahead and institute PR without further consultation with the electorate? 

And GOD FORBID that some party in power unilaterally instututes the WRONG flavour of proportional representation.  You know which one that is, right?  The one you don't support.  Then what???

mark_alfred

Mr. Magoo wrote:

The problem is that changes to the voting system become changes to the way that people can object to those changes.

Change mandatory minimums, and the electorate can reverse that in, at most, four years.

Change the Elections Act to make elections every 20 years, and the electorate can reverse that in, at best, 20 years.

Wrong.  The Constitution Act, 1982 says,

Quote:

4.  (1) No House of Commons and no legislative assembly shall continue for longer than five years from the date fixed for the return of the writs of a general election of its members.

I see no problem with a government that had campaigned on changing the Election Act, provided that the changes are not contrary to the Constitution, doing so.  They would have a mandate from the people.

Mr. Magoo

Well, thanks for the education.

But I'll still stick by my basic point, which was that changes to how we govern ourselves are a little different from changes to international tariffs, or whatever.

I would certainly agree that if there's a clear mandate from the electorate, go for it, and promptly.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Mr. Magoo wrote:

The problem is that changes to the voting system become changes to the way that people can object to those changes.

Change mandatory minimums, and the electorate can reverse that in, at most, four years.

Change the Elections Act to make elections every 20 years, and the electorate can reverse that in, at best, 20 years.

As mark pointed out, the maximum time between elections, 5 years, is a constitutional requirement, not something in the Elections Act. So your example is legally impossible. It may be that there are amendments to the Elections Act which actually could threaten our democratic rights. In fact, the Harper Government's recently passed Unfair Elections Act does precisely that. But nobody was demanding a referendum before that bill passed.

Proportional representation, on the other hand, is the system used by the vast majority of democracies in the world. Only a few former British colonies do not use it. It is no dangerous experiment, it is a proven technique to improve democracy. As to reversibility, if PR were implemented without a referendum, the electorate could reverse it at the next election, or any election after that, simply by voting 50% plus for parties which promised to restore FPTP.

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Maybe more to the point, though, there have been at least three referenda on PR, none of which demonstrated a great deal of support for changing how we vote for the first time in 148 years.  In fact, when BC held a second referendum on PR, to clarify the first, MORE voters voted against PR than in the first referendum.  Does that sound like a mandate to just go ahead and institute PR without further consultation with the electorate? 

I am not familiar with the case of P.E.I., so I will limit my comments to B.C. and Ontario. These referenda were all intended to be lost by the respective governments of the day. They were specifically designed to prevent any change to the current system. In no case was significant funding provided to inform the voters about the issue, and in all cases very unfair super majorities were required. 58% voted yes on the first B.C. referendum, and if the wishes of the voters really mattered, B.C. would now have Single Transferable Vote.

The sad fact is that voters who are uninformed about the choices offered to them in a referendum almost always vote for the status quo, as they did in Ontario. However, the experience of the citizen assemblies which made the recommendations that were voted down is quite relevant to what would have happened if the voters had been fully informed about their choices. These were groups of around 100 ordinary voters, and no one has suggested that they were stacked with PR zealots. After intensive study of the systems in use around the world, these groups came to a strong consensus that PR would be an improvement. I submit that most voters would do exactly the same, if they were fully informed.

Mr. Magoo wrote:

And GOD FORBID that some party in power unilaterally instututes the WRONG flavour of proportional representation.  You know which one that is, right?  The one you don't support.  Then what???

I personally would be very happy to accept any form of PR, and I think this is true of most supporters of fair voting. Of course, I have my own preference. I happen to think STV is the fairest system. However, I will happily accept the Open List MMP proposed by the NDP. In my opinion, it would be difficult to do worse than the present system, and almost any change would be an improvement.

Mr. Magoo

Quote:
58% voted yes on the first B.C. referendum, and if the wishes of the voters really mattered, B.C. would now have Single Transferable Vote.

When asked a second time that number dropped to 39%.

Any thoughts on that second referendum in BC?

Specifically, why it would be that after the first referendum surely increased public awareness of what was being voted on, and after the "Yes" side got more time and more opportunity to endorse a Yes vote, support for PR actually DROPPED?

Quote:
The sad fact is that voters who are uninformed about the choices offered to them in a referendum almost always vote for the status quo, as they did in Ontario.

Again, when BC voters got an extra few years to wrap their heads around the change, support for it dropped from 58% to 39%.  Doesn't that kind of seem like maybe the 58% were the uninformed ones?  Or else what?  Supporters of PR fled the province and were replaced by FPTP supporters?

 

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