Friday, June 22, 2007

MMP : Only Kick at the Can

Time to cut right to the chase.

The October 10th referendum to determine whether or not Ontario adopts the mixed-member proportional form of government will be the only opportunity for electoral reform in Ontario.

Some people who do not support mixed member proportional but who ostensibly support electoral reform, are going to vote "no" in the referendum thinking that in a few years down the road, there will be another opportunity for electoral reform. Maybe to institute single transferable voting or something else.

Not going to happen.

While I give credit to the Ontario Liberal Party for actually including the question on the October election ballot, I would argue that the majority of Liberals prefer first-past-the-post for the reason that it gives them the best chance to form a majority. That said, I'm also of the opinion that the same holds true for the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

The short story is, if we do not achieve those votes to ensure that mixed-member proportional is recommended, there will be no other opportunity for electoral reform in Ontario. Future governments, including the election this fall of a new Progressive Conservative government and way off future Liberal governments alike, will claim the results of this referendum reflect the will of the people, and it likely won't.

Truth be told, if you do want a different style of electoral reform because you do not like mixed-member proportional, you'd have a better shot of achieving that with a mixed-member proportional government.

1 comment:

Wilf Day said...

In 2003 a lot of talented MPPs went down the tubes with the outgoing government.

If the two-vote MMP model had been in place then, voters could have voted for the best local candidate and for their preferred party. If they wanted a change in governmemt, that's democracy at work, but they wouldn't have been forced to vote for the local Liberal to get there.

In 2003 the voting system hurt PCs worse than it hurt the NDP. Eves got 35% (34.7%) of the votes but only 23% (23.3%) of the seats.

In Toronto, 223,942 PC voters elected no one. In the 10 ridings north of Parry Sound, 53,169 PC voters elected no one.

With the OCA's model (90/129) PC voters would have elected 47 MPPs one way or another. If only 24 won local seats -- and I bet more would have -- another 23 PC MPPs would have been elected from the list to make up the total 47.

Picture it. If these 23 PC candidates had been elected as list MPPs in 2003, they'd want to run again this October. If the party does better this time, it will win more local seats and fewer list seats, or none at all. Therefore, the survival of these 23 may well depend on winning the local seat. When they won a list seat, they will have planned to run again, no doubt where they ran locally in 2003. So they've opened a constituency office where they ran locally. They've worked as a shadow MPP for the riding for the last four years. In fact, with 47 MPPs for the 90 ridings, every second riding has had a PC MPP that neighbouring PC voters can go to.

Are list MPPs unaccountable? Look at 1999 transposed to the MMP system:

PCs 60: 51+9
Liberals 53: 31+22
NDP 16: 8+8

Would those 22 Liberal list members have been unaccountable?

2003:
Libs 62: 59 + 3, so all but 3 of those 22 would either have won a local seat or been out.
PC 47: 24 + 23
NDP 20: 7 + 13

But of course these are only playing with numbers. The reason the Citizens' Assembly set a threshold of 3% was to give voters more choice of parties (as well as more choice of MPPs.)

To quote the position adopted by the federal Progressive Conservative Party in Edmonton in August 2002, "Voting should be an affirmation rather than a negation." When almost every vote counts, and voters are finaly free to vote for what you want rather than be forced into negative campaign mode, who can predict the outcome?