Saturday, August 18, 2007

Vote MMP!!!

Got questions about the Mixed Member Proportional electoral system recommended by the Ontario Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform?

Learn more from Billy Ballot!

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7 comments:

John M Reynolds said...

So, step 7 of 8 of the http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/en/the_recommendation/the_system_at_a_glance/default.asp link says that the parties will have to determine the priority for the list members. It says, "each party nominates a province-wide list of candidates, in the order it wants them to be elected. Candidates at the top of the list have a better chance of being elected than candidates farther down the list."

While it may seem like I So, step 7 of 8 of the http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/en/the_recommendation/the_system_at_a_glance/default.asp link says that the parties will have to determine the priority for the list members. It says, "each party nominates a province-wide list of candidates, in the order it wants them to be elected. Candidates at the top of the list have a better chance of being elected than candidates farther down the list."

Does Ontario allow a party leader to proclaim a candidate like Dion just did? Will party leaders be allowed to set the list, change names on the list, or change the priority order of the list? I don't know if LinuxLuver is still around to answer these questions about New Zealand. What will happen if a first past the post member dies? Will the next person on the list become an MPP?

Does a party in Ontario get money for each vote they get like the feds do?

I must tell you I don't feel like learning about MMP from a cartoon.

I gotta go help my son find a lego peice.

Linuxluver said...

Candidate selection is an issue frought with peril under ANY voting system. Understandably, as candidates will define by their actions the reality of party policy good or bad, executed well or poorly. So you want your BEST people to be the ones most likely to be elected. Only problem is ,"best" is in the eye of the beholder.

In New Zealand, the major parties more or less translated their existing candidate selection methods into an MMP environment. The National Party nominates ALL candidates from local ridings and then the local people go onto the list as well. Party HQ can nominate up to 5 people if they can't get enough local people to stand on the list. It should be noted that party HQ "vets" local nominees before they are allowed to stand as nominees at a selection meeting. They have had some seriously loose cannons selected locally in the past (under FPTP) who caused them a lot of grief.

The Labour Party in NZ was an outgrowth of the union movement in the early 20th century and its candidate selection processes under FPTP and MMP reflect those longstanding roots. Unions affiliated to the Labour Party have proxy votes in candidate selection that relate directly to the size of the union. Local riding selection meeting can override party HQ and the unions (assuming they agree - not always the case)by having more than 350 people in attendance who unanimously support one candidate (1 weighted vote for each 50 in attendance). The list candidates are arguably 'better' chosen as they are selected at regional conferences of party members.

The Green Party democratically elects people to the list with a number coming from each region.

In all cases, the final ranking of the list is done by what is, in effect, a broadly representative "electoral college". Each party does this a different way, but all have in mind composing the most attractive list with the best people at the top, typically "laddered" M/F with all regions included and keeping party members happy......or they kick up a big fuss. The "fuss" usually occurs when someone who is popular in the party (but not likely to be a good MP...though few want to offend by saying so) gets bumped down the list for no apparent reason. I've seen that a few times and heaved a sigh of relief. Alamein Kopu of the now-defunct "Alliance" was an excellent example of what can happen if you don't grow a couple and from up to the issue of a popular, but unsuitable person being chosen as a candidate. She did no work, rarely turned up in the House, refused to resign and they never did find the computers that were in her electorate office (she was a list MP, but had an office in Opiki, where she came from). You only need one Alamein Kopu to want to never see that happen in YOUR party.

Overall, the 3% threshold in Ontario should provide a powerful lever for making candidate selection in Ontario MORE democratic, not less. If those leaders play silly games, party members can walk....and they only need to get 3%.....not the near 15%-20% it would take to win any seats under the present system.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

John,

I don't actually know if party leaders in Ontario have the power to appoint candidates to ridings the way federal party leaders do, though I rather assume that they do. The important point though is that party selection of candidates is no MORE controversial under MMP than it is under FPTP. People are just as upset many times under our FPTP system about how parties select the candidates who will represent them, and this kind of issue is not at all a function of the MMP system proposed.

As for what would happen if a riding MPP died, I'm quite certain there would be a by-election to replace that member (at the pleasure of the government) just like there is today when an MPP dies. Now, I admit that I'm less certain what would happen in the even of the death of a list MMP. Since those MPPs are elected based on party support, not candidate specific support, I suppose they'd be replaced by the next name on the list. Perhaps, there would be a province-wide by-election. Perhaps some third option. I think maybe in that case though your scenario would happen, and the next person on the list would join the legislature. But if a riding MPP were to die, I'm quite certain there would be a riding by-election. I don't think a list member would replace a local member.

I think some of the highly specific details of the system were always meant to be sorted out in the actual legislation that will establish the new electoral system. The citizens assembly has recommended we adopt an MMP electoral system, and has mapped out all the basics of that system. However, some of the highly specific details will be established by actual legislation, passed by Queen's Park, which actually establishes our new system in law.

As for money, I don't believe that Ontario parties get money from the province based on vote totals the way it happens in the federal system. I think that is a unique feature of our new federal electoral financing system.

As for the cartoon, I understand your reluctance to learn about the new system from a talking ballot (although, Billy is quite informative). I mostly linked to him because it was cute, and because it reminded me of the "I'm just a bill" segments from the old Saturday morning carton specials in the U.S. However, rest assured that all you need to know should be found in the Citizens Assembly's 27 page report, and 189 page companion document. Also, the "Mixed Member Proportional" link in THIS posting has a nice little "how the system works" page which is VISUAL, without being a cartoon.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

John,

I should have also said that the OTHER important point about candidate selection by the parties under MMP is that as a voter, you will know both who appears on each party's list, AND how that party selected those candidates BEFORE the election.

If you don't like the candidates a party has placed on its list, or you don't like the methods that party used in their candidate selection process then the answer is simple. Don't vote for that party.

When you're voting for a candidate, you need to look at the candidate, and his or her party, and see if they represent your views of Ontario. Perhaps the candidate from party X toes the party line on health care and economic development, and as you like the party's stance on those issues you like the candidate. However, perhaps the same candidate is also a party maverick when it comes to energy policy, and because you actually like the party's stance on energy policy that makes you think twice about the candidate.

With list candidates, one would need to make the same kind of judgments, based on some things you like, and others you could do without, just with respect to a variety of candidates, not just one. If you're a "red Tory" and the CPC loads their list with social conservatives, perhaps the Tories won't get your party vote. Maybe you prefer the way the Liberals created their list to reflect the diversity within their party, with some more liberal members, and some more conservative. Maybe there's a third party (say the Greens) whom you've always wanted to vote for, but you never wanted to "throw away" your vote on a party that wouldn't elect a member in your riding. Well, now you can give that party your support, and perhaps they'll elect some members and you can finally get to see what they'll do. Maybe they'll fall on their face, and you'll never vote Green again. Maybe they'll pleasantly surprise you, and end up becoming a real force in the next election. At least under MMP you have an OPTION.

Under FPTP a Liberal is going to win my riding in the next election. I already know this. Nothing I do (short of quiting my job and dedicating every waking hour of my life to preventing this) is going to stop that. Under FPTP, that's it. It's done. If I don't support the local Liberal candidate I can stay home, or go to the polls and vote for someone else to increase that party's popular vote (which is essentially meaningless anyway). Under FPTP, my existence, in a safe Liberal riding is pretty much irrelevant.

At least under MMP I can register support for my party of preference and have that support actually MEAN something. I don't have to just sit and watch as year after year majority government after majority government is elected without the support of the majority of voters.

'Cause frankly, I'm sick of that.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

John,

He's on my side of the debate, so he's not neutral, but I wanted to point out that Jim of "The Progressive Right" has some great posts on MMP, especially in comparison to FPTP, and you might find them interesting and informative.

"The Progressive Right" - Electoral Refom Posts.

Linuxluver said...

I guess I should have answered the questions put. :-)

Yes, a by-election is held if a local MP can't serve, resigns or dies.

A list MP who can't serve, resigns or dies is replaced by the next available person from the list. This happened in NZ in November, 2005, when my friend, Rod Donald, died suddenly a month after the 2005 election. Nandor Tanczos, a 2-term MP, who had just missed out in the general election, moved up and took the vacant seat.

Can party HQ parachte people onto the list? It depends on the party. The (conservative) National Party can appoint up to 5 list candidates to the list. They did this with the ir immediate past leader, Don Brash, a former Reserve Bank (central bank) governor. He was put at the top of the list.

Wilf Day said...

"If a riding MPP were to die, I'm quite certain there would be a riding by-election. I don't think a list member would replace a local member."

You are correct, although in some German provinces a list menber does replace a resigned or deceased riding member. All these details were spelled out clearly by the 103 Citizens:

http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/assets/Description%20of%20the%20Ontario%20Citizens'%20Assembly's%20MMP%20System.pdf

And for those who don't like Billy Ballot, try the actual Citizens' video:

http://www.citizensassembly.gov.on.ca/assets/OCA%20eng%20web_MASTER-001.wmv