Monday, April 28, 2014

Leading party means nothing in a democracy

Canadians tend to view elections like horse races. The leading horse wins the race and has the right to power.

Of course, what this impression leaves out is the fact that political parties arbitrarily divide the political spectrum.

So should a united left-leaning party have an advantage over a divided right? Should a united right-leaning party have an advantage over a divided left? Either way is senseless.

Majority rule — real and imagined

The next thing to take into consideration is that democracy means rule by the people. The will of the people is determined by a majority vote.

In Canada we often dole out 4-year dictatorships to 40% minority parties and call it a “majority.” But in reality, it is the opposite of a majority and the opposite of democracy — because the actual majority gets excluded from government.

No special privilege

In the rest of the developed world, the party that represents the largest block of voters gets no unearned advantage or special privilege.

In Australia, for example, there is one left-leaning party and 4 right-leaning parties. If they used our primitive voting system, First-Past-the-Post, the left-leaning party would win perpetual “majority” governments.

But they upgraded their voting system — actually a century ago — so voters would decide which party (or parties) govern, not foolishness.

Voting reform or bust

So unless you want the Conservative party to have a huge unearned advantage and change Canada beyond recognition, voting reform should be your top priority.

Unless we fix our mess of a democracy in 2015, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

Latest polling results

According to ThreeHundredEight.com:

Based on these seat projections, if Canada was a democracy, the Liberals and NDP would form a multi-party majority government that would serve out the entire 4-year term.

But because we have a horse race instead of a democracy, the Cons would get the first shot at forming the government. If they failed, the Liberals could try to hobble together an unstable “minority” government that would fall apart in 2 to 3 years.

It’s time to chose real democracy. Either proportional representation or ranked ballot voting will put an end to the foolishness. It will also stop the Cons from winning dozens of opposition ridings due to vote splitting.

4 comments:

  1. This is all exactly correct, and it would be great if we could implement it tomorrow. But it won't be in place before the next election, and as long as the CPC is in power it will never come to pass.

    We need to spend our time doing things that will actually change the outcome of the next election.

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    1. All three opposition parties are promising to do something about voting reform. So voting reform gives Canadians a good reason to unite behind in voting out the Conservatives in 2015.

      But to ensure that voting reform succeeds we need to raise awareness and build support -- get Canadians talking about it. So far there have been 4 provincial voting-reform referendums that failed because Canadians were not aware of what the referendums represented.

      If we don't fix our voting system when the opposition likely ousts Harper in 2015, the Conservatives could be back in power for another decade as early as 2017. Then we'll be having the same conversation in 2026.

      There is little Canadians can do at present because Harper has a 4-year dictatorship that our broken voting system unjustly awarded him. Our number one priority should be to make sure this never happens again. That is the greater outcome we must change to save the country for our children.

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  2. I completely agree that we need electoral reform. I would like to explain that in British Columbia we have twice voted in referendums to bring about proportional representation - one in 2005 and the other in 2009. They both 'failed' but not because we weren't aware of what they represented.
    The first one failed because the bar for 'success' was set so high by the government: it required 60% supermajority approval across all voters and a simple majority in 60% of the ridings. In 2005, it won a simple majority in 97% of the ridings but 'only' 57.7% across all voters.
    The BC Liberals (who won only 45.8% of the vote) didn't hesitate to form a majority government, however. They won only 4.3% more of the popular vote than the NDP but took 13 more seats.
    And in 2009, the campaign in favour of Proportional Representation allowed itself to get bogged down into vote counting details instead of focussing on the massive problems of the First Past the Post system. And it certainly didn't help that the provincial NDP refused to support Proportional Representation (in the form it was being presented), saying that it preferred another form.
    Even with the problems, there was a 39.1% approval for PR - and that's about the percentage of the popular vote which allowed Stephen Harper to claim a so-called "majority" victory in the federal election of 2011.

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    1. All great points.

      We have to be prepared for the voting reform initiative that will likely come our way after the 2015 election. All 3 opposition parties favor some kind of action. The Liberals and NDP promise to form a federal citizens' assembly that will travel around the country getting input from Canadians.

      Of course one of the reasons the 4 referendums failed was because an unelected citizens' assembly recommended a specific version of voting reform when this choice should've been put in the hands of Canadians.

      The best way to get rid of FPTP is with, what I call, a 3 x 3 referendum. It is a referendum with a runoff vote. The 3 voting system options will be: PR, Ranked Ballot Voting and FPTP. The 3 PR options: party-list, Mixed Member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote.

      Voters will select one option. Then if one option doesn't win with a majority, a runoff vote is held with the top two options. This ensures a system is chosen by a majority of voters.

      It also offers good odds that FPTP will get eliminated on the first round.

      This method will also get rid of the absurd 60% win threshold, which is utterly unjustifiable (and was put in place to ensure the previous initiatives would fail.)

      It will be up to us in the social media to get people interested in the cause (promoting both PR and ranked ballot voting to put up a united front.) It will also be up to us to plead with the citizens' assembly in cities across the country to adopt the 3x3 referendum to ensure we have a fair, democratic process.

      We will have to be prepared for all the pitfalls, and the corporate media onslaught against voting reform. We will also have to be prepared to roll out an aggressive campaign that uses Stephen Harper and the Cons as a poster boy for voting reform.

      Neither Fair Vote Canada or Unlock Democracy are up to the task. They are biased against ranked ballot voting which is divisive and self-defeating. What we need is a new organization that will promote all voting reform systems and unite opposition members in stopping the Conservatives from destroying the country with voting reform in 2015.

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