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Michael Hardner

Proportional Representation Discussion

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Replying from another thread...

PR shouldn't be implemented. It's too radical a change, and may not even address the ills that people suggest it would. Democracy itself is old too, is that a criticism ?

Also, there's some kind of implication here that creating PR, ie. giving the 15%-20% or so who regularly vote NDP more power (ie. the balance of power) will be good for democracy, even though the 30%-35% who regularly vote Conservative would have a reduced chance of having power in government.

I think there would be a centre-right backlash that would eventually settle out with two parties, and the left being shut out by a centre-right and farther-right coalition.

Below is jacee's response, and my response to that post:

Yes it will if all MP's are accountable to a constituency.

If all MPs are accountable then... ?

No that's just fearmongering, Michael.

How is it fear mongering ? The criticism is that FPTP is 'outdated' ... which is to just say we need to change it because it has been around a long time. Democracy itself has been around a long time, so can we say that it too is outdated ?

There is no aspect of fear mongering in my pointing this out.

First past the post is only one form of democracy, very outdated and not common anymore for that reason. Needs an update to continue being a functioning democracy.

You're just repeating that it's outdated...

PR isn't "radical" at all. It can be implemented without changing anything at all except adjusting the numerical representation in the House to reflect the popular vote.

Of course that is radical.

The consideration of its effect on party political power must always be secondary to consideration of good representation for the people - the true nature of democracy.

Must ? Why must it ? No system except direct democracy provides perfect representation, so what is "good" representation ? Why "must" we consider the percentage representation (a mathematical concept) over the practical result (peace, order and good government)

In addition to FPTP results, in Proportionate Representation, party representation in the house must reflect the overall proportion of the popular vote for each party.

This would create perpetual minority governments and coalition governments - a radical change in how Canada is governed.

It is necessary to avoid the current distortion of democracy: Every vote counts toward representation in the House, whether your candidate wins FPTP or not.

That is elevating the mathematics of representation above how Canada has governed - and been successful - until now.

One never avoids change because of a potential backlash. That's the equivalent of always giving in to a child's tantrums so they continue forever.

One never avoids change because of a potential backlash ? Really ?

The Conservative government had to back off on its planned electronic surveillance policies because of the backlash. I guess they shouldn't have done that.

I think you're off base though. PR generally doesn't result in more concentration in fewer parties.

.

Here's how it would happen: we would see a decade or longer of Liberal minority governments supported by the NDP. In order for government to change, the conservatives would move to the centre and capture enough Liberal votes to win a majority government - which would eventually happen. The Liberals and NDP would effectively merge at that point.

Oh, and plenty of elections. Plenty.

How this would result in a better Canada, or what such a system would address is outside of my understanding. Some say it would re-enfranchise voters but I don't see how that would happen.

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That's always been my question as well - how would this result in a better Canada? I don't see how, other than some abstract concepts of fairness and having something 'better'. The real test of a democratic system is quite simple - does it provide for smooth transitions and good government while still giving the people a voice? It seems that ours does, and it would probably be a bad idea to change it.

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How this would result in a better Canada, or what such a system would address is outside of my understanding. Some say it would re-enfranchise voters but I don't see how that would happen.

The New Zealand switch to PR had a one time bump in participation followed by a decline that matches the decline seen in other countries with FPTP. People don't vote for many reasons but the voting system is not a significant factor. Edited by TimG

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It seems that ours does, and it would probably be a bad idea to change it.

Changing it for a specific goal, and by changing some specific part of the system in an understandable way might be a change we could get behind.

For example - if voters are misinformed, then perhaps meeting with focus groups of such voters, finding out how they get information and trying out programs to inform them then measuring the effectiveness. That might be a change we could try.

Adding some non-voting seats to ask questions in Question Period, to address specific concerns that aren't addressed by mainstream parties. That might be a change we could try.

Both of these are changes that could address specific areas that need attention.

What doesn't make sense is to change the entire balance of power and get rid of majority governments, effectively permanently. Keep in mind that minority/coalition governments are pretty rare in Canada and these are what we would have pretty much from now on.

The purpose of this change would be, ostensibly, to get people more engaged in democracy somehow.

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I haven't noticed better, fairer or more responsive government in prop rep countries. Rather the reverse, in fact. So far, all governments in Canada pretty much govern from the centre, so what's the issue?

Edited by Argus

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I think this article sums up FPTP vs PR pretty nicely.

HERE

FTPT

The main criticism of first-past-the-post is that individuals can be elected and parties can achieve a governing majority of parliamentary seats even though they have not received a majority of the votes. In fact, most Members of Parliament are elected with less than 50% of the total votes cast in their constituency.

Another criticism is that first-past-the-post results in a large number of wasted votes. Since the winner in most parliamentary elections gets only a plurality of votes (and not a majority), the majority of votes cast are wasted, in that a vote for a candidate placing a close second or third gives the voter no voice at all in Parliament.

Critics also say that first-past-the-post tends to put election outcomes in the hands of a small number of swing voters in marginal constituencies, and that it only seems to function well in a two-party system (which, they say, it also tends to perpetuate). The other side of that argument, though, is that a PR system, while giving lots of different parties a voice in Parliament, will often lead to unstable coalition governments.

PR

A pure PR system might be one where each voter casts a vote only for a party, and the legislative seats are then allocated strictly in proportion to the outcome of the overall vote. So, for instance, if Party A gets 38% of the nationwide vote, then it gets 38% of the seats in Parliament

there are a large number of ways of structuring PR systems. The Electoral Reform Society has an online guide to PR voting systems, which explains the Additional Member System, the Alternative Vote, the Alternative Vote Plus, the Supplementary Vote, the Single Transferrable Vote, and the Party List system. Some of those systems can be used in combination with other systems.

Edited by PrimeNumber

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This seems to be a general problem with being a progressive, no matter the subject, old is bad, new must be better. Sometimes it's true, often it isn't.

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I haven't noticed better, fairer or more responsive government in prop rep countries. Rather the reverse, in fact. So far, all governments in Canada pretty much govern from the centre, so what's the issue?

I suppose the issue is people not in the centre, who think that things should be more their way. Too bad.

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When we come up with new things whether it be in technology, science, world views, sports, politics, business and industry. It's to make these things work better, faster, more efficiently or to be fair to everyone using them. It makes sense that if anyone has an advantage with the old way they would be reluctant for change but like the old fogies who refused to use computers 10 years ago, after they embrace the change they may find it makes their lives easier. Work smarter, not harder.

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It's to make these things work better, faster, more efficiently or to be fair to everyone using them.

You've combined to ideas that don't belong together. Fair is not a quality that can be measured the way you're implying.

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The New Zealand switch to PR had a one time bump in participation followed by a decline that matches the decline seen in other countries with FPTP. People don't vote for many reasons but the voting system is not a significant factor.

No, what's missing in people's lives is having some meaningful say in the things that actually affect them on the ground where they live and work. A PR government in Ottawa is still a government that's over three thousand miles away from where I live. It might as well be on the dark side of the moon.

Even things like PR are fast becoming outdated given how power has been concentrated and centralized in Canada.

We need to employ even more radical forms of democracy and governance now; e-voting, replacing the Senate with citizen's assemblies and public referendum.

But it'll have to wait until after the interegnum l guess.

Edited by eyeball

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Much of the financial turmoil in countries like Greece, Spain Portugal etc. can be blamed on governments elected by proportional representation.

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Eyeball, we already have a citizen's assembly. It's called the House of Commons. :)

What happens with all of these institutions is the members become politicians. There is a very good reason for that. Our politicians are a pretty good reflection of the voters.

A major problem is Canadians are no longer willing to participate in the election process. Voting is not enough. People have to get out and work for their candidate in the nomination process and the election campaign and then stay active between elections.

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What happens with all of these institutions is the members become politicians. There is a very good reason for that. Our politicians are a pretty good reflection of the voters

Were you conveying our politicians are a reflection of our apathy/laziness for the process and hence appropriate? I think the term "good" was used incorrectly unless you were sincere and "I laugh in your general direction."

Edited by Bob Macadoo

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Michael this is a sabotage thread.

No context, the op makes no sense.

No value for intelligent discussion.

I agree that it's difficult to start the OP properly because the discussion was started on another thread.

ie. derailing the other thread

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We need to employ even more radical forms of democracy and governance now; e-voting, replacing the Senate with citizen's assemblies and public referendum.

California's ballot measures are the best examples of 'law making by referendum' and they have been an unmitigated disaster. All of the problems of money and special interests are still at play but effects are worse since it is harder to reverse bad laws created by referendum.

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Much of the financial turmoil in countries like Greece, Spain Portugal etc. can be blamed on governments elected by proportional representation.

No, that was almost entirely caused by banksterism.

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No, that was almost entirely caused by banksterism.

It was caused by governments unable to increase revenues to meet expenses and unable to reduce expenses to meet revenues due to the pressure from coalition partners. Governments cannot function effectively if they are constantly on the brink of falling.

I'm not sure what you mean by banksterism. How would a modern economy function without a healthy banking system. Canada has among the best banking houses in the world...but that is off the topic of this thread.

Edited by Queenmandy85

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I agree that it's difficult to start the OP properly because the discussion was started on another thread.

ie. derailing the other thread

Ok maybe a bit. ;)

But can you write a better op?

I can't even remember the context, and I wrote it.

How's anybody else supposed to make sense of that?

Edited by jacee

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I'm not sure what you mean by banksterism.

The near collapse of our global economy due to the near collapse of our global financial system due to the near collapse of banking regulation and oversight due to...

The people in Greece, Spain etc never saw the crookedness that hit them because, well they couldn't see what was going on... who could? I just can't put it any clearer than that.

Edited by eyeball

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I added my original post at the top and some framing language.

Better ... but still smacks of sabotage befitting a dalton liberal:

'Let's pretend to discuss this and sabotage it'.

It also smacks of

'We don't want this to be an election issue so let's get it out of the election thread'

And it's clear that your usually balanced response is visceral: You come close to planting fears that Proportional Representation will murder mothers and apple pie! :)

I will acknowledge that my fundamental distrust of power (power corrupts) and belief in human decency makes PR more attractive to me.

I would really like to see an apolitical public forum for good brainstorming and idea generation of ways to improve our democracy.

Gotta have dreams. :)

.

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