Sunday, February 5, 2017

So the Liberals Scrap Vote Reform

The Liberals have gone back on their election promise to make 2015 election the last one based on First Past the Post (FPTP) and institute some form of Proportional Representation (PR).  People didn't think it was fair that a party garnering 40% of the national vote should get 54% of the seats in the House of Commons and form a majority government.  They have a point.  However, as I wrote in a blog post just after the election, PR comes with its own problems and is not necessarily an improvement or even more fair.

I am not disappointed that we will stay with FPTP, just as I (and any right thinking person), was not disappointed when Jean Chretien did not repeal the GST (VAT).  It was one of the things Mulroney got right, along with replacing the dollar bill with the Loonie. I can debate NAFTA.

The NDP (always the bridesmaid, never the bride) is furious, of course.  PR was their ticket to the alter. They see PR  as virtually guaranteing a minority government, with the NDP holding the balance of power. So instead of being governed by a majority with 40%, Canada ends up being governed by a minority with 20% of the popular vote, whether seats are distributed by provincial popular vote or national. Or back to the polls we go.

Data source
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Results_of_the_Canadian_federal_election,_2015
This assumes that voting patterns stay the same as in 2015, which of course, they will not.  People will feel confident that their vote "will count" and may well vote their true preferences, the argument for PR in the first place. That means there could be a major shift in party seats in the House. Without a cut off (3%, 5%?) some of the 18 oddball parties I never even heard of could get seats and might anyhow. We could easily see the rise of far-right (provincial-based?) parties and I can think of just the provinces in which that could be likely. Coalition governments, here we come.

I was informed that over 90 countries use some form of PR. In Western Europe, 21 of 28 countries use proportional representation, including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland. Check out the list linked to above and see how many of these countries you would be comfortable if Canada were governed as well as they are. 

PR Voting type by Country (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation#/media/File:PR_types.png)
To be fair, the Liberals did examine the issue.  How well, I cannot say, as it was not on the top of my priority list at the time.  They did set up a website with a questionnaire which I filled out.  The questionnaire was bitterly criticized by many who could not or would not understand it (Canadians at times are no brighter than the denizens of other lands).  In  a nutshell it asked for desired outcomes: how did you want the House of Commons to work.  Based on your answers it slotted you towards PR or FPTP. Simple really but I think people were expecting a rough poll of what kind of PR system they favoured. Needless to say, the questionnaire did not shed any light on anything.

I favour two possible solutions.  First is ranked ballots or transferable votes.  This would, it is claimed, see the Liberal Party governing forever.  Second would be Two-round voting (as is used in the French presidential election).  A run-off election is followed in two weeks by a final election between the top two candidates where no candidate received more than 50% of the vote in the first round. Based on 2015 election results, a final vote would have been needed for 205 out of 338 constituencies. Not PR but it does guarantee MPs with over 50% of the popular vote and most likely majority government. 


13 comments:

  1. "The NDP (always the bridesmaid, never the bride) is furious, of course. PR was their ticket to the alter." Hahahahaha, that's right! The Green Party's too.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you. Some lines write themselves.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Two-round voting is an interesting solution. I've long thought that our system needed revamping, but two-round voting wasn't something I'd considered. Hmmm.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ranked ballots are less expensive but not as easy to understand as FPTP X 2. Whether people would turn out for both votes is another problem.

      Delete
  4. Anything... and long as we don't adopt that crazy system they have south of the border.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Amen to that. I am so thankful for our Constitutional Monarch, British style parliamentary democracy. And "Peace, Order and Good Governance". Harperism attempted to take us South and unfortunately still exists in sufficient numbers to be dangerous

      Delete
  5. LOL, I spent a while trying to figure out what you meant, just assuming I didn't know enough about politics...then I realize you're Canadian! Yes, unfortunately, I'm American...although escaping to Canada has occurred to me a lot in the past few weeks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. You are welcome to Canada. We welcome refugees from all countries

      Delete
    2. I regularly practice my Canadian language skills for the day I will be a refugee. Hopefully, before you build a wall and make the U.S. pay for it.

      Delete
    3. You can always paddle across the lake, if we build a wall. Just don't take the Edmund Fitzgerald tour boat.

      Delete
  6. In answer to your comment on my marmalade blog.... Seville oranges are bitter and contain a lot of acid and therefore lots of pectin which allows the marmalade to set. Having said that, my marmalade is a bit runny so I think I'll have to boil it up a bit longer.

    ReplyDelete