On changing our electoral system

In today’s edition of the Toronto Star, Ian Urquhart – somewhat of an electoral reform reactionary – reported that the Ontario Citizen’s Assembly on Electoral Reform is overwealmingly in support of the electoral system known as Mixed-Member Proportional (or MMP for short).

For those of you who don’t know what MMP is, you can follow the link I’ve pointed out, but simply put, it’s a system whereby you have two types of representatives:  One type are elected exactly as we currently elect our MPs – most votes wins, doesn’t matter if you don’t have  a majority of the vote, but so long as you have the most votes.  The second type are elected en masse based on how everyone else voted so that parties that get screwed in the first type of MPs are rewarded with MPs in this second type, the idea being that in the end, we still have geographic MPs while having a legislature which still represents how the public actually voted.  For specifics, again, see above.

Now I have been an opponent of MMP for several reasons.  None of these, mind you, are because I’m opposed to electoral reform, in fact on the contrary – I’m strongly in favour of another type of electoral system called Single-Transferrable Vote or (STV).  But, I disagree with MMP on the following grounds:


  While MMP is proportional, it still clings to this archaic notion that the lifeblood of representation and our interests are more or less defined by where we live.  Yes, 200 years ago when Catholics settled in town A and Protestants settled in town B and nobody moved and everybody was born, lived, and died in town A or B, geography was a hugely important feature of who you were.  As I wrote on Greg’s blog a while back:

     “The fact that I happen to live just south of the Ottawa-South/Ottawa-Centre riding boundary has much much less to do with the aspects of my person I would like represented than, for instance, my age, gender, education, economic class etc… In my submission to the Citizen’s assembly I quoted polling data which showed that people’s attachment to their community has steadily decreased over the past 20 years. In short, the constituencies people belong to now are socio-cultural and span geography.”

So to me the central feature of MMP is it’s attempt to fuse a desirable proportional aspect into our absolutely outdated notion that we need to have one MP paternalistically look after and somehow be accountable to a small geographic area. 

Ah — the supporters of either our current system or MMP will retort — but without a direct linkage between one (and only one) MP and constituency, there would no accountability.  But this is specious logic. 

First of all:  with the vast majority of ridings being safe ridings in this country (which wouldn’t change under MMP), most MPs could hold puppy-kicking competitions on the first wednesday of every month and would still get elected!  Is that accountability?

Second of all: with the vast majority of MPs being elected under either our current system or under MMP are elected without majority of support.  In other words, most of their constituents, who they claim to represent, are people who voted against that MP.  Is that accountability?

Third of all:  As I mentioned above, the vast majority of our character is not defined by where we live but rather by pan-geographic constituencies.  Slicing the country up into these one-MP-ridings merely ensures that weaker minority groups never form a critical mass to get into the legislature unless they’re geographically or regionally concentrated… which as we’ve seen in Canada, leads to a whole other set of problems.

Fourth of all:  Okay, let’s assume that you’re lucky enough to have your MP respond to your request to meet with him/her in order to press an issue that’s of importance to you.  Let’s assume that you’ll get more than 10 minutes with said MP.  Let’s even assume that you voted for said MP.  What if your MP is a right-wing Liberal who opposes gay marriage and your concern is that you can’t find any local services which will marry you and your gay partner?  Do you think that your MP really cares about representing your interests on this front?  If they basically tell you to go F&^% yourself, what can you do?

Now MMP supporters will respond to the last question that if your MP politely tells you to go and, er, ‘procreate yourself’, that you can rely on one of the regional/provincial MPs.  I agree fully.  I just take the argument one step further and say, why not just do away with the one-MP-per-constituency formula altogether?  To which the MMP crowd usually responds with some bland comment about either accountability (see above) or community being important (also, see above).  Moreover, as an aside, this last point about MMP respecting the importance of community is irrelevant because even under my desired system, community is still important and is treated as such.


MMP by its very necessity creates two classes of MPs.  So we have the regular constituency MPs who have to handle work in their constituency and have to travel back and glad-handle sycophants who probably didn’t vote for them but nonetheless like to adorn their offices with pictures of people more famous than they are.  But we also have this second class of MP who don’t have a given territorially-rigid constituency and who don’t have to do as much of this kind of work.

Why is this a problem?  Well Hilary Pearse wrote an absolutely fantastic academic article on this topic entitled Geographic Representation and Electoral Reform where she discusses this.  I strongly recommend it to anybody who’s interested in these topics.  Anyway, Pearse notes that one of the side-effects of MMP in New Zealand and Germany has been that the second type of MPs are treated as “second-class MPs” and are somehow illegitimate because they don’t have a geographic constituency.  This problem stems from the fact that MMP is still based on geography – as I discussed above – and as such, Pearse describes these so-called list-MPs as merely “MPs in search of a constituency”.

Now, having considered all that, I feel STV is elegant and that it achieves what I consider to be an appropriate balance between geographical and non-geographical representation without going so far as the Israeli electoral system which takes no account of geography at all.  But above all else, STV provides for honest accountability – even in heavily Liberal or Conservative areas, MPs must compete against other MPs from even their own party to continue to enjoy the privilage of representing you.  This last point expliains why élites hate STV and, in my opinion, what élites hate – the populace should love.

But the point of this post isn’t to sell you on STV (although I wouldn’t be upset if that was a consequence of this post).  The fact of the matter is that STV lost and MMP won in the Citizen’s Assembly.  What are STV supporters to do now?

While it may not be perfect, I for one will nonetheless support this fundamentally flawed, inconsistent, ugly and inelegant system I’ve just spent over an hour bashing and I call on all other STV supporters to do the same.


Because it’s still a hell of a lot better than the god-awful system we’ve got now.

15 Responses to “On changing our electoral system”

  1. 1 Mark 22 February, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    Here, here, I hope all supporters of alternate electoral systems feel the same as you!

  2. 2 janfromthebruce 22 February, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    I agree. I always find it really ironic that the elites cling onto this tribal terrorial notion, like the elected one is representing your issues and is accountable to you. Why, you may ask? Because those same elites and parties have no problem dumping a ‘dream candidate’ into a riding (safe seat) that as no connection to that geography, community and so on. It’s just about the seat and absolutely nothing about representing those people. It’s just so laughable.

  3. 3 Declan 22 February, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    great post. I agree with most of what you wrote and also prefer STV (slightly) over MMP. You didn’t mention the advantages MMP has over STV (simplicity, less uncertainty about the impact of the change and a few others) but I guess that wasn’t your point, so fair enough.

  4. 4 paulitics 22 February, 2007 at 11:54 pm

    Declan – I’m glad you brought up the issue of simplicity because I didn’t talk about that in my post.

    I frankly find the argument that STV is too complicated, to be lacking. Really, what’s so complicated about it? You take the number of votes cast, divide it by the number of seats and BANG: you’ve got the number of votes you need to get elected. At worst, it’s grade 5 arithmatic. The only slightly complex thing is that if nobody meets the threshold then second-choice votes kick in – which still isn’t really that complex, it’s just a second stage.

    Truthfully I find MMP to be WAY more complicated than STV. Do you run parallel or top-up seats? What formula do you use for the top-up seats? What minimum vote threshold to you use? What do you do with overhang seats?

    All of these are non-issues with STV.

  5. 5 Gregory D. Morrow 23 February, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    Paul —

    I’m not here to change your mind — I find that most people will defend their beliefs regardless of the evidence. But you seem to assume that we don’t already have pan-geographic associations. We do — that’s what political parties do — they bring together people across space around issues and positions that matter to them. But since our winner-takes-all system forces grand coalitions, we get big parties that tend to campaign and govern from the centre. That’s not necessarily a bad thing since it may well be preferable to having a hundred small parties all with their own self interest — so parties must make internal accommodations that further their interests but also look after the broader public interest. That being said, most of us who support electoral reform believe that the “big party” approach has squeezed out many voices — the most obvious being a severe under-representation of women, visible minorities, and First Peoples. That many issues aren’t being care for — the environment, affordable housing, etc — also demonstrates that we don’t have the full diversity of opinion represented in Queen’s Park.

    But the point is that the non-geographic communities of interest (parties) are balanced with geography — not necessarily for accountability reasons that you describe since we could get accountable representatives with any system where voters get to choose precisely WHO gets elected — but because different regions have different concerns. There are many problems with our current system, but one of the biggest is that it assumes that the public interest will come out of the deliberations of local interests. But not all issues are local and what politician is willing to go against their local community, even if it is in the broader public interest? The solution isn’t to pretend that geography doesn’t matter by having only communities of association represented and no geographic communities represented; the solution is recognize that we need a better balance better the two. And in particular, we need broader scales of association to be represented, some issues span well beyond the local.

    If you accept the above, we might expect that an STV system could achieve that balance just as well as MMP — but only in a place which has relatively high population density and reasonably cohesive concerns — for example, in urban areas. Note that your logic that geography doesn’t matter doesn’t exactly square with your support for STV, since STV is very much a geographically-based system. If you truly don’t believe that geography matters (and if you watch the TVO videos of the CA process or read the transcripts of the consultation meetings, you will realize that most Ontarians don’t agree with you), then you should support a province-wide list PR system — no ridings, no regions. The problem with province-wide List PR is that if we want a say in precisely WHO gets elected (not just from what party). we would need an open-list which would have 600+ names which is, of course, ridiculous. So we either need regions to make the lists manageable or we have to have a closed-list — but here, where people here worry, rightfully, that if they don’t have a chance to say precisely WHO gets elected (regardless of whether local, regional or province-wide), then they aren’t as accountable.

    But going back to STV — you claim that local ridings represent small geographic areas. That’s true in cities, but not in the country. Even some ridings now are odd hybrids of different communities of interest, like Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington, for example. Under any PR system, it’s best to have list of at least 5 (research shows that this is what is needed for parties to begin nominating more women and minorities). In an STV system, you eliminate all local ridings and replace it a region of 5. So, take the area immediately to the west of Ottawa. That means combining the ridings of Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Carleton-Mississippi Mills, Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington, Leeds-Grenville, and Kingston & The Islands. That’s a region of 533,000 people that has very different concerns from place to place — moreover, pooling these places together means that invariably it is the candidates from the urban centres that win the most votes.

    So how is MMP different? It does the same thing as STV by creating regions around which broader issues can be represented. But unlike STV, it still acknowledges that much of Ontario isn’t urban and is large enough that not all concerns can be represented by broad regions. So it retains local ridings for have an advocate for local concerns. Moreover, because it is a proportional system, it means that smaller non-geographic communities of interest (that is, smaller parties) can gain representation. So you get a nice mix of province-wide broad-interests (parties), regional broad-interests, and local more narrow interests.


  6. 6 paulitics 23 February, 2007 at 4:26 pm

    Greg – I thank you for your insight into this matter.

    I think there are significant areas of merit in your specific proposal to the Citizen’s Assembly (and, as you know, I have praised you for this proposal elsewhere). Thus, I want to reiterate here again that my attacks on MMP ought not to be taken as attacks on you or your proposal specifically.

    Truthfully, I don’t think our opinions on the importance of regional interests are as far apart as you portray them to be. That said, you have some rather large misconceptions about my position.

    Firstly, you wrote above that “your [i.e. “my”] logic that geography doesn’t matter doesn’t exactly square with your support for STV, since STV is very much a geographically-based system.” This is now the second time that you have misrepresented my position on this matter, the first instance being on your blog wherein you wrote, “it follows that you think that geography doesn’t matter.”

    I have never once written anywhere — not here in this post, not over on your blog, and not on a third party’s blog — that geography doesn’t matter. In fact, when you said on your blog that my position was that geography doesn’t matter, I corrected you when I wrote

    “I did just want to clarify that I never said that ‘geography doesn’t matter’, in fact I would disagree with the notion that geography doesn’t matter quite strongly as I’m originally from Northern Ontario which is very geographically distinct and I am also strongly opposed to the Israeli electoral system.”

    Allow me to reiterate my position: I do feel that geography is important. I do, however, also feel that the absurd model of having one-MP constituencies is arcaic and is predicated on the notion that geography is the sole institutional nexus through which the electorate can interact with the state. I seek, just like you do, a balance between this model and the Israeli electoral system.

    Incidentally, another position of mine which you misrepresentated was that my logic squares with a province-wide, Israeli-style electoral system. I have been explicitly opposed to such a system and have put my opposition in writing on multiple occasions, including, most recently, on your blog (in the post I linked to) when I wrote:

    “Now, I’m not advocating an Israeli-style, nation-wide PR system”

    Another point of misrepresentation of my position is your statement that my position would entail the merging of the current electoral ridings of “Renfrew-Nipissing-Pembroke, Carleton-Mississippi Mills, Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox & Addington, Leeds-Grenville, and Kingston & The Islands” into one STV riding. I never said that, and I don’t believe there is a single STV supporter who whould advocate such. The sheer elegance of STV is that, in instances where geography matters more – like for people in my original hometown of Thunder Bay in Northern Ontario or for people in rural Eastern Ontario such as the people in the ridings you just mentioned – then there are fewer seats per constituency which, ergo by definition means they would also be more faithful to a geographic constituency. No STV country (or rather neither or them) have the same number of seats per STV riding – that’s the beauty of the system. In fact the variant of STV that I support, would have as few as 2 seats and as many as 6 seats per riding (and 1 seat for ridings above the 60th parallel).

    Now, that said, I think you had some interesting points in your comment above. The first is that, regardless of whether there is a formalized, institutional recongititon of pan-geographic constituencies, there are non-institutional entities which accomodate this, namely, parties. I do not disagree that parties serve the function of ‘bringing people together’ and that they do so across geography. However, I do not feel that they are sufficient (and I get the impression that you don’t feel they are sufficient either, else you wouldn’t have proposed an undeniably intricate MMP system for the Citizen’s Assembly to consider).

    The fact of the matter is that with SMP, geography is the sole legitimate nexus for institutional political interaction between the populace and the state. Now, for example, there have been MPs like Svend Robinson who claimed to represent the interests of homosexuals in Parliament – and regardless of how good we felt he accomplished his self-appointed task, the reality is that he could only legitimately represent the people of his geographic constituency. An example to illustrate this point is that, in the event that the interests of the pan-geographic homosexual community which he claimed to represent conflicted with the interests of his geographic constituency, we would have seen very clearly the limitations of the informal institution of parties to span geographic interests.

    I think that this point of parties is an interesting one and I do agree that there is much more that could be said on the topic, but nonetheless, I feel it is beside the point that we wish to address (since we both seem to agree that parties in and of themselves are insufficient).

  7. 7 Gregory D. Morrow 23 February, 2007 at 8:30 pm

    Paul — of course I exaggerating your position in order to get you to clarify it! Because there is nothing that you’ve said that doesn’t square with MMP. In fact, if you were interested in balancing geographic and non-geographic forms of representation, it’s the best bet. In STV, there are no local ridings (and if you have some that have only 1 riding, then it isn’t STV — it’s an STV/SMP hybrid because for there to be voter choice, proportionality, diversity etc, you’ve got to have a district magnitude of greater than 1). And as I’ve argued elsewhere, you can and should have different DMs for different regions, but there is a fundamental difference between giving some people (i.e. in cities) choice and proportionality and not giving choice to others (i.e. rural areas and the north). It means that only urban areas get proportional results and they get multiple members while rural/northern areas don’t. It’s institutionalized apartheid.

    But again, you say “geography is the sole legitimate nexus for institutional political interaction between the populace and the state”. I presume you take this as a problem. But let’s clarify. STV is no more or less geographic than STV. The difference is that the district magnitude of that geographic area is greater than one. So the difference is that SMP is local geography, while STV is regional geography. It is a question not of whether geography is the “sole legitimate nexus for institutional political interaction between the populace and the state” — because that is still the case under STV — it is a question of whether the local scale is the appropriate scale (and with only SINGLE MEMBER representatives). To repeat: STV is still a system where “geography is the sole legitimate nexus for institutional political interaction between the populace and the state”. All STV MPPs represent a region, ergo they are geographic. Just like MMP. The difference is that MMP also acknowledges the value of having local ridings.

    I think it not geography that you don’t like being the basis of our political system, but rather the scale at which that geographic representation occurs. You prefer regional, not local. You therefore prefer STV precisely because it gets rid of local seats in favour of regional seats. But there are different scales for different problems. Assuming that they occur at only one scale is the same mistake that our current system makes (only it assumes that all problems are local). Why not acknowledge the reality that there are local and regional issues, both of which need advocates. Then you have a intricate web of different scales of association, and both geographic and non-geographic forms of representation.

    As to you points about Svend representing a non-geographic community (“the gay community”), once you go to a proportional system, that is once you have multi-member districts (in MMP or STV), then you open up the possibility of any number of pan-geographic coalitions gaining seats. Of course, it’s a tradeoff — the more narrow your interests, the less likely they will appeal to others, so these pan-geographic coalitions (which will organize under some party banner), will need to decide whether it’s better to be a one-issue coalition or pair with people who have other interests, but who support your goals. The point is, once you have PR, all of this takes place. And if you acknowledge that some places need local reps (which you do in your preferred STV/SMP hybrid), then MMP is a better choice, because Northerners and rural Ontarians would get both a local rep and a regional rep (which means that PC and NDP voters votes go towards electing someone, whereas, in your system, they don’t — they are wasted just like a regular SMP system).

  8. 8 paulitics 24 February, 2007 at 10:44 am

    Greg – a few points:

    Firstly, you write: “In fact, if you were interested in balancing geographic and non-geographic forms of representation, it’s the best bet.”

    That is an extremely arrogant statement and I consider it to be uncharacteristic of you. It is far from a fact that MMP is the “best bet” for seeking the balance I desire. If it were a fact, then the only reason we could possibly be having this debate would be if I were somehow irrational or blind to this “fact” as you put it. If you don’t accept that perhaps I am aware of the virtues of your proposal and that I understand the virtues of your proposal but just happen to disagree with you, then there seems to me to be little point in continuing on this discussion.

    That said, you mentioned some items which I feel need to be corrected.

    I should say that when I wrote that ridings which extend above the 60th parallel ought to have 1 MP, that obviously applied to a hypothetical Canada-wide STV system which I’ve been working on and not an Ontario system as there doesn’t exist a single riding in Ontario which spans the 60th Parallel. However, even for this hypothetical Canada-wide system, you’re wrong when you write that it would be an STV/SMP hybrid. It would be an STV system with 5 ridings in total that would have a DM of 1 (or, if you want to be REALLY picky, it could be considered a STV/AV hybrid). But either way the point is moot to our discussions.

    Secondly, you write that “STV is no more or less geographic than STV.” (I will presume here that you meant that second “STV” to read “SMP”.) I never said that STV wasn’t still loosly tied to geography (albeit regional geography). Rather my contention is that STV loosens the bondage of a purely geographic conception of representation. In fact, you answer your own question as to how I could hold that STV could conceptually be considered as such when you write that:

    “once you have multi-member districts (in MMP or STV), then you open up the possibility of any number of pan-geographic coalitions gaining seats.”

    There are a few significant differences that I see between our positions on this issue and they are as follows:

    1) I obviously agree that there needs to be a balance from local and regional representation. However, I feel that this balance should lean decidedly towards regional interests. Moreover, I feel that STV does accomplish this task. Virtually every scholar of Irish politics notes that TDs have a not insigificant loyalty to local concerns and I believe that this demonstrates that STV can serve as the balance I seek. (Incidentally the Maltese House of Representatives also demonstrates this fact, but I imagine you would probably retort that a) Malta isn’t a pure STV and b) that this doesn’t apply since Malta has a unitary government ergo this is a necessity; and that’s fair enough.)

    2) I believe that STV would do a better job of allowing for truly pan-geographic considerations due to the fact that, unlike MMP, STV is not still founded on the notion that the central legitimating nexus for representation is the one-member local conception of representation. Ergo, as Hillary Pearse noted in her fantastic article that I mentioned in the body of my post, these other representatives in MMP end up sitting somewhere in a sub-class of lesser legitimacy.

    3) I feel that there are many other benefits to STV which go beyond conceptions of representation and thus have not been discussed. I do not have either the time or the inclination to go over all of these but I can discuss one or two. For instance, I see the merits of a preferential voting system as significant on multiple levels including its resultant decrese in the probability of election campaigning “going negative” (or at least going as negative) from non-preferential voting systems. Moreover, I like the fact that there exist no arbitrary thresholds as are necessary in pure PR or in MMP for parties to gain list seat representation. Yet, STV still does a good job, structurally and without these arbitrary thresholds, of discouraging splinter parties.

    Ergo, I support STV.

    Keep in mind though Greg, the purpose of this whole post wasn’t to sell anybody on STV. The purpose was to call on my fellow STV supporters to nonetheless support the Citizen’s Assembly even though what I see as a profoundly inelegant system, MMP, won.

    Since you consider it a “fact” that your preferred system is superior to mine, I highly doubt that I will ever change your mind and win you over to the STV cause. That, however, was not my intention. What was my intention, however, was to at least demonstrate that STV supporters do have legitimate arguments which CAN NOT be addressed under any variant of MMP and that we aren’t merely people who misunderstand MMP or its merits. I understand MMP very well and have found it wanting.

  9. 9 Gregory D. Morrow 24 February, 2007 at 11:42 am

    Yes, I somehow thought you meant Northern Ontario, not Northern Canada. The point remains — if you are giving regions a voice and moving to PR, you have to do so for all regions, otherwise you end up with a system that serves some regions better than others. This is not an insignificant point. So the smallest STV region would have to be at 2, but probably 3 seats. Thus you can’t have what you suggest: “an STV system with 5 ridings in total that would have a DM of 1.” That just means that your system does work in the North and thus you need the North to have the same bad SMP-FPTP system that they have today.

    I repeat: “once you have multi-member districts (in MMP or STV), then you open up the possibility of any number of pan-geographic coalitions gaining seats.” Note that MMP does the same thing that STV does in this regard.

    You say “I obviously agree that there needs to be a balance from local and regional representation.” No, I don’t think it is obvious at all that you think the balance is between local and regional. After all, you support a system (STV) that eliminates all local ridings. MMP has both local and regional MPPs and thus achieves that balance. STV has only regional MPPs. Local representation suffers. No doubt about that. If your goal was to balance local and regional representation, MMP is the best bet. Sorry, but a system that has local and regional MPPs does better balance local and regional concerns better than a system that has only regional MPPs. Some MPPs within STV and some regional MPPs within MMP could choose to build a base locally and hope to get the lion’s share of the regional votes in that one area. But even so, that favours candidates in urban parts of a region over those in the rural areas. Without local representatives, the most rural parts of region will be shut out. You recognize this in the North, so are willing to deny Northerners a regional voice by keeping the same bad SMP-FPTP system there. But under MMP, the North gets BOTH local and regional seats. The same holds true for rural areas in the South. It’s just that you’ve convinced yourself that STV of a theory that STV can work to represent local concerns. But is it better for local concerns than a system that has actual local representatives? No.

    “STV is not still founded on the notion that the central legitimating nexus for representation is the one-member local conception of representation” — neither is MMP.

    “as Hillary Pearse noted in her fantastic article that I mentioned in the body of my post, these other representatives in MMP end up sitting somewhere in a sub-class of lesser legitimacy” — you really need to read both Massicotte’s report and the recent report done that reviewed dual-candidacy in Scotland. There is no basis for this claim, especially with an open-list MMP, where regional MPPs are elected by the people. Too many people assume that MMP means party lists. It does not.

    “you consider it a “fact” that your preferred system is superior to mine” — you seem to think i’m here to defend “my” proposal. even “my” proposal isn’t mine, as it was informed by people from across the province. it represents an attempt to reflect what people want, not what I necessarily want. so it’s not me that thinks its superior, it’s the vast majority of Ontarians who attended consultation meetings and submitted comments, and the 80% of the Assembly for whom MMP was the most logical choice to design. Indeed, I’ve changed my model several times to reflect the wishes of the people. I actually started with STV, given the BC choice, but quickly found that people in Ontario are a) less afraid of parties than the BC assembly was and b) Ontarians won’t accept a system without local MPPs. We all have to put aside our personal preferences to support a system that most Ontarians want. So, I’m just trying to put form to what the vast majority of Ontarians want. There is just not much support for STV in Ontario.

    There are two issues that we’re debating: 1) balancing geographic and non-geographic representation, and 2) balancing local and regional representation. It’s clear that both STV and MMP achieve #1. But STV doesn’t achieve #2 as well as MMP. And that’s why most Ontarians prefer MMP over STV.

  10. 10 paulitics 24 February, 2007 at 1:42 pm

    Greg. I find your continued presumptuousness on this matter to be disquieting and not conducive to debate. It does not further debate when you hold that it is “fact” that MMP is superior to STV in a given area. In fact, it makes the debate merely a matter of me not understanding what you’re writing. I understand what you’re writing. I have personally read various reports on MMP from my work on Parliament Hill – reports drafted both for MPs in our Parliament as well as reports from the UK. Thus, I hear what you’re saying. Moreover, I understand what you’re saying. I just merely happen to disagree with you.

    I won’t go into a detailed response to your comment, but I did want to address one or two points.

    My proposal, even for the Canada-wide variant, is not a hybrid of FPTP-SMP and STV. As I’ve now stated twice, if you wanted to call it a hybrid, it would be an STV/AV hybrid. AV is not SMP. I also once again repeat that this point is moot to our discussions as it does not apply to Ontario.

    You conclude by writing that:

    “There are two issues that we’re debating: 1) balancing geographic and non-geographic representation, and 2) balancing local and regional representation. It’s clear that both STV and MMP achieve #1. But STV doesn’t achieve #2 as well as MMP.”

    You can’t just posit that “STV doesn’t achieve #2 as well as MMP” as a truism since I do not hold this conviction and thus your conviction reduces the debate to you being right and me being recalcitrant in not understanding the inherent correctness of your position. However, for what it’s worth I do feel that STV is superior even in this matter, and my position on this depends on what one’s conception of the proper balance is. Clearly we have different conceptions of this balance.

    Lastly, you appeal to the popularity of MMP over STV as legtimation for you position. It would be foolish of me to disagree with you on this matter. CLEARLY MMP was more popular than STV – the vote, if nothing else, demonstrated this. However it should be noted that if the people have been fed the idea that they need to have local interests met and that this can only be done by paternalistically having one MP represent one geographic riding, then OF COURSE they’re going to fall on that side of the debate. My point wasn’t to argue for what was popular or to argue for what Ontarians would even like – my point was to argue for what I thought was right.

    Now, it’s clear that we’re talking past each other so I will just conclude by stating that I believe my position on this issue of electoral systems is clear.

  11. 11 hswerdfe 7 March, 2007 at 2:08 pm

    good post, but it looks like next weekend STV gets its chance.
    personally of the major systems I would say that I prefer
    1. STV
    2. Regional Open List
    3. MMP with Open List
    in that order.
    but honestly almost Any system is better Aproval, AV, full List system, Condorcet.
    I would vote [YES] for any one of them in almost any form when compared to SMP.

    as for complexity. I Feel STV is more complex for the voter to fill out the ballot then MMP. But it I also feel it is easier under STV for the voter to understand how their choice effects the MP that they get.

  12. 12 Jamie Deith 25 March, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    So, how does everyone feel about the CA gravitating toward a closed list?

  13. 13 Yves 12 September, 2007 at 6:01 pm

    Un autre problème avec MMP est qu’il n’y pas seulement que deux classes d’élus, mais aussi deux classes d’électeurs. Ceux qui comprennent le système, qui votent de manière statégique, et ceux qui ne le comprennent pas. La réalité, c’est que la compensation du MMP est un leurre et que la diversité qui en résulte ne correspond pas à la réalité. En fait, le mode de calcul fait en sorte que tout le monde a intérêt à voter pour un parti différent de celui pour lequel il vote au niveau local(MP). C’est pourquoi on a vu en Allemagne, en Italie et en Nouvelle-Zélande, des militants appeler à voter pour un parti concurrent ou un candidat indépendant au niveau national ou local. Par conséquent, des partis différents représentent en réalité les même électeurs, les mêmes tendances, et cela dans un système finalement bipartite. Certains bulletins comptent en réalité pour deux voix, alors que d’autres n’en valent qu’une seule (ceux qui votent pour le même parti 2 X). Si un électeur refuse d’appuyer un parti politique, son bulletin compte souvent pour moins de 0,35 voix.

    Aussi, les tiers partis ont intérêt à limiter leur positionnement à enjeux larges et non-controversés dans leur propre aile. C’est ainsi qu’ils s’éloignent de la cohérence nécessaire à la bonne gouvernance et deviennent finalement incapable de se positionner sur la plupart des questions importantes.

    Finalement, les partisans du MMP font beaucoup de désinformation et de démagogie sur le STV. Par exemple, on dira que le système ne peut pas être proportionnel s’il y a seulement que 2 ou 3 candidats. C’est ignorer le fait que le bulletin est préférentiel et qu’il y a finalement ralliement. Autrement dit, les idées et les tendances sont mises en compétition, puis synthétisées plûtot que rejetées.

    Aussi, si une partie des votes ne comptent pas, ces votes ne sont pas toujours les mêmes et appartiennent autant aux partis dominants qu’au tiers partis. Par conséquent, l’effet de moyenne élimine toute forme d’exclusion systématisée, ce qui est très loin d’être le cas avec le MMP. Il faut donc arrêter de voir la diversité comme étant la diversité des partis.

    Finalement, pour donner un peu de cohérence au MMP, il faut ajouter des sièges, comme en Allemagne, mais ça, c’est une vrai secret de polichinel.

    Malgré tout, je suggère aux Ontariens d’appuyer la réforme. Toutefois, il est urgent que ceux qui comprennent quelques chose aux modes de scrutins se fasse entendre et cesse de laisser le monopole de la parole aux différents groupes d’intérêts qui cherchent à tirer profit du MMP. Il y a un bilan à faire sur l’échec des campagnes d’éducation dans ce dossier.


  1. 1 The myth that minority parliaments are inefficient « Paulitics: Paul’s Socialist Investigations Trackback on 19 April, 2008 at 1:07 pm
  2. 2 Coalition likely wouldn’t bring in Proportional Representation « Paulitics Trackback on 30 November, 2008 at 11:58 am

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