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On wanting the Third Way

Russell McOrmond over at Vote for MMP argues that MMP is a stepping stone to STV, and therefore those of us wanting a preferential ballot should vote for MMP in this referendum. But he's flat out wrong. Aside from the obvious fallacy that rejecting MMP will put the issue of electoral reform to bed for generations while BC schedules its second referendum on the issue for 2009, there is no way political parties will part with their party lists after having received them.

STV combines multiple ridings into one and assigns multiple MPs elected by a preferential ballot to the combined riding, with the total number of MPs assigned being the total number of ridings merged. It's a system that requires all candidates to stand for local election, achieving proportionality by having the combined vote of multiple ridings for candidates who cannot win under the current system. It weakens but does not eliminate local representation. MMP, on the other hand, achieves proportionality by eliminating local representation for a substantial portion of MPs and giving parties the ability to appoint MPs based on province-wide party lists.

Once parties are given the ability to cast MPs by party list, there is no way that the issue will be allowed to be revisited by list-heavy smaller parties who will hold the balance of power in the perpetual minority environment of MMP. Revisiting MMP with an eye toward implementing STV would be taking away those party lists and forcing smaller parties to elect its representatives in ridings. With the balance of power they have, they will be amply able to block any such move.

British Columbia rejected STV with 57% support against a 60% passing requirement in 2005. In 2009, the issue is going back to the polls, perhaps hoping that the second time is lucky. In spite of the fact that the referendum failed, the issue has not gone to bed.

Posted at 11:21 on October 01, 2007

This entry has been archived. Comments can no longer be posted.

The myth of the wasted vote | elections reform | MMP contradictions keep adding up


Lord Kitchener%27s Own writes at Mon Oct 1 15:57:52 2007...

The reason the issue has not gone to bed in B.C. is that the "failed" referendum got 58% of the vote, while the "winning" "majority" government got less than 50%. I agree that if MMP gets more than 50% of the vote all hope might not be lost for electoral reform. If it gets LESS than 50% though, you can put electoral reform to bed. No one else is going to risk their 40% "majorities" over reform if MMP is defeated by a majority of votes in the Referendum.


cdlu writes at Mon Oct 1 17:23:32 2007...

And that's fine with me. If MMP is soundly defeated then the issue _should_ be put to bed.


Mark writes at Mon Oct 1 18:24:16 2007...

LKO's completely right if MMP "gets LESS than 50% though, you can put electoral reform to bed".

Russell's right, voting against MMP is NOT going help the movement for electoral reform in Canada.


Jamie Deith writes at Tue Oct 2 00:10:34 2007...

I disagree and think MMP supporters have it all wrong. Less than 50% support does indeed put MMP to bed, but not electoral reform.

Imagine for the moment that we have an Ontario MMP result in the 40's. Put that alongside the PEI result at 36%, and then consider STV's relatively colossal 58%. At that point it should be plain which system voters actually want.


cdlu writes at Tue Oct 2 09:42:04 2007...

Jamie, I agree whole-heartedly. Saying that electoral reform will never be discussed again if this phenomenally bad system is defeated is fear-mongering.

Voting against MMP is voting against MMP, not voting against electoral reform. Voting for MMP for the sake of voting for change may be one of the most destructive acts reformers ever do and one that will be very difficult ever to undo.


Shoes writes at Wed Oct 3 08:28:16 2007...

HI CDLU

Great article in the Trib.

I am confused, need more eduction / explaination, on the second paragraph "popular vote which is higher than its proportion of ridings would.."


cdlu writes at Wed Oct 3 09:02:20 2007...

Shoes,

If a party gets 25% of the popular vote (ballot 2) and they win 20% of the seats (ballot 1), they will be awarded 5% of the seats to compensate them for the discrepency.


shoes writes at Wed Oct 3 11:56:13 2007...

Thank you... MMP is still a bad idea


TSowell_Fan writes at Fri Oct 5 19:26:53 2007...

Isn't there a more important and fundamental electoral reform needed? Recent Stats Cda figures show that something like 30% of all income tax is paid by the top 3% of earners (you know those filthy rich guys earning over $100K per year that everybody is jealous of) while the lowest 45% of taxpayers pay only about 6% of all income tax.

Altho we're all equal -- hence the need to ensure everybody's vote "counts" equally by reforming our electoral process, it's apparently just fine for public goods to be paid for by some and not by others or, at least, not equally or even proportionately by all. Worse, those who pay for those public goods often don't consume any/many of them. All they get is verbal abuse for being successful -- and for exploiting the little guys, of course.

If "no taxation without representation" is a fundamental principle Canadians believe in -- maybe it isn't since the Boston Tea Party wasn't replicated in Montreal or Toronto, doesn't "no representation without taxation" make equally good sense> i.e. If I pay 50 times more in taxes than my neighbor, shouldn't I be allowed 50 votes to his one? (I recognize that there are various financial situations which could cause the tax laws to disenfranchise some people unfairly -- but a flat tax for all might solve that problem.)

Otherwise, isn't there a danger that those who consume public goods without paying for them -- almost a majority of Canadian taxpayers -- will be able to dictate the number and type of public goods and how much people other than themselves will have to pay for in income tax? Wouldn't that result in ever-escalating taxes and introduction of cradle-to-grave nanny state programs?

Just asking -- given that everybody is equal but some seem more equal than others.


stef (cressac87@yahoo.fr) writes at Fri Dec 14 11:39:02 EST 2007...

voulez vous des photos des class66 en france?

merci de me contacter cressac87@yahoo.fr

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