making every vote count

Ontarians got some good news today. The citizens' assembly, which has been charged with studying how provincial elections are decided, voted overwhelmingly in favour of changing to mixed member proportional voting.

The Toronto Star's bias against the change was obvious in its headline -"Radical voting proposal gains steam" - and in this sentence, set off in its own paragraph: "The system can lead to permanent minority governments and a proliferation of fringe parties." As I understand it, this is mostly myth. The Star also later refers to the current system as "our centuries-old system". Lay it on a little thicker, why don't you.

For the real story about proportional representation, read Fruits and Votes and Idealistic Pragmatist. I'm still reading up on the difference between true proportional representation and mixed member proportional voting. Hopefully MSS and Ideal-Prag will stop by to help out.


M@ said...

I don't mind proportional representation as long as I know who my MP or MPP is when the dust clears. I understand that systems usually do end up tying one MP, or a small number of MPs, to a geographically small area. As long as someone cares that I vote for him or her, I'm in favour of the proportional representation system.

I'd still much rather see the Single Transferable Vote system, though. I know the logic seems complicated, making it a hard sell to the general public, but it really seems like an equitable system. I was very skeptical at first but was won over.

By the way, I know of some other centuries-old systems: slavery, divine right of kings, arranged marriages. Does the Star want to maintain these, too?

laura k said...

By the way, I know of some other centuries-old systems: slavery, divine right of kings, arranged marriages. Does the Star want to maintain these, too?

I know. They really annoy me when they show their bias so blatantly.

I don't know much about STV. I've read a little about it, but not enough to understand it. With your endorsement, I'll look into it further.

Scott M. said...

I highly recommend going to see the animations that have been prepared to explain the STV system proposed for BC and an overview of systems around the world.

Both animations are hokey and play to the lowest common denominator, but they do an effective job of explaining what's up. I think the BC-STV one is quite good, actually.

If, after viewing that, you want a more intellectual view of different systems the Citizen's Assembly education sessions (see the October files) are all available on-line. It's essentially a college course in electoral systems put on by Johnathan Rose.

laura k said...

Thanks for those links, Scott. Between those, Fruits & Votes, and I/P, the course is complete.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I'm in California, so I don't have time to leave a long comment, but really, I've said it all before in my blog, anyway. *grin*

My proportional representation FAQ, which, among other things, talks about the differences between mixed-member proportional and pure party-list proportional representation (they're both "true proportional representation", they just work differently).

The post debunking the myth that proportional representation leads to minority governments.

If you don't have time to read those longwindedly detailed posts, this one should suffice.

James Redekop said...

I know. They really annoy me when they show their bias so blatantly.

OTOH, I prefer it when media outlets have their biases out in the open rather than hiding them...

MSS said...

As far as the aggregate relationship of votes to seats for the various parties, MMP is proportional representation.

It is a "mix" with first-pat-the-post only because some individual members (usually around half the total) continue to be elected in the familiar manner. But if one party wins a lot of the districts and thus has a higher percentage of them than its vote percentage (as is almost always the case with FPTP) the other parties will get most of the list (PR) seats--whatever it takes to make the total allocation in parliament as close to proportional as possible.

(If the share of PR-list seats is too small, or they are primarily allocated in small regional districts, MMP may not be able to deliver on proportionality, as in the recent Lesotho election.)

In addition to my posts specialized on Canada, I also have a category devoted solely to mixed-member systems (including a recent post on the Lesotho example I just alluded to).

Come on over and join the conversation any time!

MSS said...

By the way, I already addressed Urquhart's rank ignorance about electoral systems and his specious arguments about "permanent minority government" back in September.

laura k said...

I/P and MSS, thanks so much for the tips and links. I'm so lucky to have such knowledgeable readers.

MSS said...

By the way, in addition to the very good links on how these systems work that Scott M. provided, I also highly recommend the information on MMP at Elections New Zealand.