Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Canada Votes 2011 - FPTP vs PR

Under any of the various versions of proportional representation, Steve would not now be enjoying his majority.

Fair Vote Canada :
"The Conservative party increased their vote percentage by less than two points,” says Fair Vote Canada (FVC) President Bronwen Bruch, “but this allowed them to win 24 more seats than in 2008, when they were already over-represented. Stephen Harper calls this a ‘decisive endorsement’, but we call it a rip-off."
Almost no one tries to claim the first-past-the-post voting system we are currently labouring under is fairer than any of the alternative options any more. No, mostly its proponents just say FPTP is easier for voters to understand.

Really? How did you like figuring out who to vote for this time round? And how did it work out for you?

Under any old prop rep voting system, we could forget about coalitions and party mergers and strategic voting and blaming each other for splitting the vote afterwards. Instead, all voters would be free to 'vote their conscience' and some of that 39% of eligible voters who don't bother to vote now might even feel sufficiently engaged by having, you know, an actual voice in it, to turn up.

As Pogge says : We really ought to fix this

Tomorrow voters in the UK are deciding whether to go with Alternative Vote , also known as instant run-off voting. Brebis Noire posted the following funny vid at Bread & Roses that explains how it works. Surprise cameo by Steve as Reform Cat.



sunsin said...

There has been a perfectly adequate solution to this problem for years, but people refuse to use it. It's called a runoff election. If no one gets 50%, the two front runners have at each other, say a month later -- long enough for the voters to learn what the front-runners are trading for the endorsements of the former parties.

Ah, but they say, no one would come out for the runoff. But it took me all of half an hour to vote last time, and I walked to the polling station. Are we saying that people won't do that twice in four years?

So, to make things even easier, let's vote by mail. We'd still have non-fractional paper ballots to count and recount if necessary, or even to produce in court. If people are too lazy to mail two letters every four years, then there is really no hope for us.

I don't trust any system that counts second choices. Who the devil puts any consideration into his or her second choice? No. Paper one-vote ballots are safest.

croghan27 said...

al Jazeera did a report on the plebiscite. It agrees with the Guardian, it is not expected to pass ....

Michel said...

Big fan of the AV or voter run-off but less so for Proportional Representation. It's better than FPTP by a wide margin mind you. My objection with PR is the question as to who would represent my riding? If the Bloc gets 20% of all Quebec votes, would it happen that my riding's MP is a Bloc MP despite the fact that it had marginal support?

I realize that it sucks to be in Saskatchewan and have a good amount of NDP support and yet get no representation but I agree with the blogger KirbyCairo that said "too many people just voted Conservative!". By the same token, the gerrymandering in Saskatchewan should be addressed but likely will not.

So yeah, I think the AV would have helped in the Greater Toronto Area to elect more progressives and it's much fairer than FPTP. I'd support the AV in Canada but not sure I'd support PR unless I'd have much more details on how it would be implemented.

Great discussion and glad you brought up the topic!

Orwell's Bastard said...

You don't have to sell me on the merits of electoral reform or convince me of the disfiguring crapitude of FPTP. Only thing is, though, I'm not sure what we're supposed to take from variations on the "if we had PR, Steve wouldn't have his majority" theme. Yeah, and if your grandma had balls, she'd be your grandpa.

The fact is, Steve's got his majority, and he's got even less reason to give a fuck what we think than ever. Plus the FPTP status quo's working out just fine for him -- as it should, given the time and energy he and his minions invested in figuring out how to game it and make it work to their advantage. Trusting in his commitment to genuine democratic governance doesn't do much for my comfort level.

So while I'm all for pushing for electoral reform, I don't hold much hope for working through parliamentary channels or traditional party politics -- not that there was much to be gained through that strategy in the first place. If anyone's got any ideas about how we can do that effectively, I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...

Hansard - Thursday, March 3, 2011

Opposition Motion--Representation in Parliament
Mr. David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, NDP) moved:

"That: (a) the House recognize the undemocratic nature of the current form of representation in the Parliament of Canada, specifically the unnecessary Senate and a House of Commons that does not accurately reflect the political preferences of Canadians

that the House appoint a Special Committee for Democratic Improvement, whose mandate is to (i) engage with Canadians, and make recommendations to the House, on how best to achieve a House of Commons that more accurately reflects the votes of Canadians by combining direct election by electoral district and proportional representation"

March 8,2011 DEFEATED - 257 to 34

West End Bob said...

Would love to see it, Alison. 'S'pecially with the results you've graphed.

Unfortunately, der fuehrer stevie is running the show for the next four years with no checks on his moves. What's the chances of him changing the system to benefit the electorate when he's already got a Contempt of Parliament finding under his belt ? ? ? ?

Beijing York said...

Can electoral reform even happen without political parties with some clout backing the motion? I'm all for changing the system but I don't see any champions for it. Didn't it more or less fail in BC and Ontario because of lack of support from major parties?

Alison said...

Gosh, guys, did you think this was going to be easy? Maybe a success the first time out?

I made the comparison chart, as I do every election, because one day enough Canadians might get together in local ridings and make pushing for some version of PR the condition of giving their local MPs the vote. Make their very jobs depend on it.

80 other countries in the world already enjoy some version of fair voting and few of them got it by asking for permission from guys like Steve - who, 15 years ago, was a supporter of PR himself. As he wrote at the time, without PR the country will polarize into polarized regional voting factions.

BY : Yes, BC, Sask, and PEI have all rejected PR so far, if you call having to get over 60% approval in every riding in the province a rejection. In BC the electoral officer was dismissed for stopping the BC Libs from slyly campaigning against it with pamphlets during the actual referendum and then corporations held up the thing up in court for weeks trying to rewrite it.
PR won't succeed top down like that - it will have to go grassroots up.

It's in both the Green Party and NDP platforms, and although the Liberal Party voted against initiating baby steps toward PR in the HoC in March as mentioned by Anon above, they just lost big time in Ontario due to FPTP. Only libs on the ground can knock some sense into their party as dippers will have to hold the newly 'empowered' NDP to theirs.
As I said - make their jobs depend on it.

Sunsin, MV : was using the PR term in the broadest sense. IV, AV, MMP, STV, PR, whatever. Fair vote would have been more accurate I guess.

OB : If my grandmother had balls she'd still be my grandmother but with balls. PR was supposed to get started back in 2004. Are we going to be having the same wretched conversation about some other wretched majority in another 7 years?

Thank you, all, for your interest.

Alison said...

One last thing. All the important social movements of the last century - rights for minorities, women, LGBT, children, POWs, FN, workers, differently abled, the environment - all of them were or continue to be actively suppressed by our government, who only jump into the parade after a whole lot of outside pressure. Voters rights won't be any different.

West End Bob said...

RE: One last thing.

Excellent point, Alison . . . .

Orwell's Bastard said...

Apology for my earlier snarkiness. More detail here.

Alison said...

No apology necessary. We're all exasperated, OB.

Wilf Day said...

"Their version of PR - Alternative Vote" is an error. AV (or IRV as the Americans call it) may be a good way to elect a president, but it is NOT a proportional system, and it is NOT appropriate for Canada's parliamentary system. Nor for the UK's, it seems.

So its defeat in the UK is a good thing, if it gets this false reform off the table.

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