Thursday, October 04, 2007

Vote for MMP!!! The "Power to the Students" Edition...

As you may have heard, a large number of Student Unions across the province have endorsed MMP in the upcoming Ontario Election.

What you may be less familiar with is the website from the Ontario branch of the Canadian Federation of Students urging students to vote for MMP and CHANGE THE SYSTEM.

I'm hoping youth turnout on October 10th will set records, and students in particular will help us take back our political system, and establish a new era of legislatures that actually reflect the will of the people of Ontario.

Vote for democracy.

Vote for MMP!

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Anonymous said...

I hate to rain on your parade, and I was on the fence, but statements like "vote for democracy" from the pro-MMP side, as though our current system is undemocratic have inevitably forced me to vote for the other side in protest. Sorry.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

That's fine anonymous.

Though, I've never heard of anyone protesting against more democracy before, it's certainly your right.

But tell me, are you just voting for FPTP, or is your ultimate goal to find a system that's even LESS democratic? A full on dictatorship perhaps? Otherwise, it seems kind of silly to me to vote for the less democratic system because you're annoyed that people have the gall to point out that it's the less democratic system.

Either way though, good luck to you!


ETA: By the way, I highly recommend you avoid Andrew Coyne's recent column on this subject "The case against first-past-the-post". I suspect you won't like it. It begins:

Democracy, as everyone knows, is a system of majority rule. It is a system marked by free and fair elections between rival political parties, their success or failure depending on the number of votes they can attract. It is a system in which every adult citizen has an equal say in choosing who should represent them.

By every one of these definitions, Canada, under the electoral system in use today, is not a democracy

Anonymous said...

If, under the electoral system in use today, we are not a democracy as Mr. Coyne claims then isn't a system that relies on this woefully undemocratic system to elect 70% of the MPPs 'not a democracy' either?

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Well, not if the election of the other 30% of members eliminates the property of FPTP that makes it undemocratic. The feature of FPTP that is most undemocratic is that it produces legislatures that bear little resemblance to the votes cast by the electorate. MMP fixes that.

Anonymous said...

Not really though, if you consider that in any individual riding it's possible that 70% of the people are being represented by someone they didn't vote for even under the new system. The party vote is all well and good if you believe in over-arching party politics, but if you believe in local representation and view a general election as what it really is: 107 local elections, the MMP does nothing for you and, if anything, makes it worse.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

It would be great if the system ran as 107 local elections (still worse than MMP, but an imporvement on the status quo), but it doesn't.

Almost no one actually votes based on local candidates. Many voters don't even know who their local candidate is until they read their name on the ballot next to the party they're voting for. FPTP would be better than it is if it worked in practice as it's supposed to in theory, but 1) the ridings divisions are almost completely arbitratry (I have no more or less in common with members of my riding than I do with members of almost any other riding in the province, it's a meaningles, arbitrary bunch of lines on a map) and 2) people don't view provincial elections as a series of local elections, they view them as provincial elections, and they vote accordingly (usually according to party, sometimes according to party leader, and most rarely according to local candidate).

I'm not by any means suggesting that MMP is a perfect panacea, but almost anything's superior to FPTP, and in my view MMP is CLEARLY so.

FPTP made some sense in 1792. It makes almost none in 2007.

Anonymous said...

That's a lot of assumptions about how people choose to vote. I assume you have numbers to back that up?

I won't claim to know exactly how the ridings are drawn, other than I vaguely know it's based on population, but to say you have no more in common with members of your own riding than others is ridiculous. For example, I live in Ottawa - I'm going to want someone who's going to be vocal at Queen's Park about getting provincial money to fund, say, OC Transpo, a position likely shared by many others in my riding but not in others. Residents in a rural riding may have a greater interest in farm subsidies compared to people in Toronto. People in a particular riding may have concerns about the next nuclear plant being proposed for their area. Granted the general interests in Ottawa-Centre don't likely differ greatly from those in Ottawa-South, but they probably differ quite a bit from some northern Ontario riding, or even Toronto ridings. On top of that, ethnic communities tend to have pockets of high concentration, as do gay and lesbian communities. To say that people in a riding have no more in common with each other than they do with other ridings is nonsense. And regardless, the solution to the complaint that ridings are meaningless because you have so little in common with the rest of the riding population (that electing a common voice is silly, is how I assume the argument continues) is to make them bigger??

Even if we accept your "facts" about how people tend to make their decisions in the voting booth, they're free to use whatever rationale they want. If they don't understand the philosophy behind ridings and elected representatives (don't people take civics in high school anymore? Or history?), that's hardly a problem with the system. If they vote party/party leader because they don't have any inspiring candidates in their riding, that's not a problem with the system either. Voter ignorance and crappy candidates are still going to be a problem with MMP. And guess what - not all of them are going to use the system as you theoretically intend any more than they do now. But the real deomcratic problem of FPTP is the plurality aspect. And guess what, we're still keeping it for the majority of MPPs. That makes perfect sense. If FPTP is broken, keeping it but tacking on some window dressing with it's own democratic problems isn't a solution.

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

Sorry, I guess I should have included a link to a poll on how people choose who to vote for. I just presumed that was such common knowledge that no one would question it. I'll find an actual poll, but for now, since I have it at hand without having to look, I'll reference "" and their May article on Why electoral reform will work, where they point out that:

...we know that 60-65% of people vote by party and another 20% vote by party leader (potential premier or prime minister). Only about 15-20% of people actually decide how to cast their ballot because of the local candidate. So 80-85% of today’s ballots are cast by party, not by local candidate. And that means for 80-85% of us, we don’t have a choice which local candidate we want. But electoral reform changes that.

I'll post a link to the most recent poll when I have the chance.

Now, it's true, voters can use whatever rational they damned well please to make their decision. However, to me, if 80-85% of voters don't base their decision on the local candidate, it makes no sense whatsoever to keep a system that divides power in the legislature solely on the absolute winner-take-all success of local candidates. Voters can do what they want, but to me it's insane to ignore what the vast majority of voters ARE doing, and to skew their intentions almost beyond recognition by continuing to use a system that ignores those intentions entirely.