Thursday, May 24, 2007

Random Thoughts on the MMP Ontario Referendum

1929.

The year above was the last time the Tories got more votes in Ontario than the Liberal and NDP cumulative vote.

Just thought I'd toss that out there.

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29 Comments:

  • So what's your point . . . should the libs and N dips unite?
    Or is it just that most in Ontario are too stupid to leave the socialist-nanny-state left!!!

    By Blogger Oldschool, at 12:19 PM  

  • The year above was the last time the Tories got more votes in Ontario than the Liberal and NDP cumulative vote.

    Shouldn't that read "than the Liberal and socialist cumulative vote"? As I remember (I was alive then), the NDP was formed in 1961.

    By Blogger Brian in Calgary, at 12:56 PM  

  • Interesting observation but when was the last time the socialist vote exceeded the combined Liberal/Conservative vote? Probably never.

    A good chunk of Liberals (while they may hate to admit it) have a greater affinity with Conservatives than NDippers. Personally I find much of what the NDP stands for to be just as undesirable and naive as Conservative views are repugnant and unreasoned.

    By Blogger KC, at 1:08 PM  

  • Or, you could say "the last time the NDP vote was larger than the combined Liberal/Conservative vote was......never" if you want to scare Dippers out of support for MMP ;) (or scare the rest of us INTO supporting it at the thought of Rae's 37% "majority").

    As an aside, why do the Liberals get the privilege of being combined with either side? There are certainly people out there who vote either Conservative or NDP, and avoid the Liberals at all costs - which actually makes me wonder, when was the last time the LIBERALS won a majority of the vote in Ontario?

    Methinks it's not just the Tories who would be hampered....not that hampering parties from obtaining majorities is a bad thing ;)

    Also, the Liberals and Tories could certainly work together as easily as the Liberals and NDP (see the rise of the NDP in provincial western politics, and the provincial Lib/PC's respective reactions for details).

    By Blogger daniel, at 1:19 PM  

  • I guess KC beat me to the punch ;)

    By Blogger daniel, at 1:20 PM  

  • As today's election in Ireland shows, in situations where's there proportional outcomes and the "natural" placing of the parties is
    1) Centre (Fianna Fail)
    2) Right (Fine Gael)
    3) Left (Labour)
    ...it actually trends towards the little guys sucking up ideology and ganging up to overcome the hegemon. That's why Labour has pledged to support a Fine Gael-led coalition if they get enough votes together to push FF out of office.

    Mark my words, it might take an election or two before the prospect to get seriously considered, but you would see a PC-NDP coalition in Ontario in order to keep the Liberals out.

    By Blogger Tom, at 1:31 PM  

  • The only point to that is that the pottential for a perpetual Liberal/NDP coalition is there...

    That's not to rule out a Tory/NDP coalition at some point, but it is to say that the only way the Conservatives could really form government would be as part of a coalition with the Dippers.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:42 PM  

  • Why couldn't the Liberals and Tories form a coalition? It occurred in BC prior to the rise of the Socreds, primarily as a method of keeping the socialist hordes out of power.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 2:10 PM  

  • Or a coalition with the Liberals or some other future unrecognized party.

    Ontario voters are not a static mass of people, anymore than anywhere else. Your prediction might hold true for the next 10-15 years, but it gets REAL hazy after that.

    By Blogger Closet Liberal, at 2:13 PM  

  • I have to disagree with Tom's observation of the situation in Ireland. Fianna Fáil is (currently) centre-right, Fine Gael is centre-left and labour for the most part is considered centre-left too. Traditionally Fianna Fáil is also more to the left (they were dragged a bit more to the right fiscally due to the FF/Progressive Democrats coalition). We don't have the so called left-right divide in Ireland like Canada does. Mention left or right wing to most people in Ireland and they wont have a clue what you are talking about.

    By Blogger gearóid, at 2:37 PM  

  • Great post CG - so much said in a mere 34 words. Demonstrates why you're the best Liberal blogger so well.

    I hope you'll continue make the case to your Liberal friends in Ontario that Voting Yes for MMP is good for Liberals in Ontario (and voters, women, Conservatives, Greens, etc. etc.).

    By Blogger Mark Greenan, at 3:14 PM  

  • Changing the voting rules will almost certainly, change the party structure of Ontario. The Progressive-Conservative Party of Ontario is a somewhat unnatural alliance of nouveau riche suburbanites, and protestant farmers (to oversimplify) - they are not natural allies.

    Also, New Zealand, which has an MMP system (the one being voted on in Ontario) shows that ideology is not a big deal in an MMP world. Personality-driven populist parties there are pretty opportunistic, and will go with whoever gives them a better deal.

    The real question is how the big parties will split, and who can play the game of politics best. The only losers in this are Ontarians who, I predict, will be dumb enough to vote this thing in.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:29 PM  

  • Be careful what you wish for.

    Lots of potential for unintended or unexpected consequences.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 4:44 PM  

  • How about the Greens, Randy Hillier's farmboys, the Family Coalition Party?

    There will be many coalition partners for John Tory's PC.

    Of course, the Liberals were in the wilderness in Ontario from 1943 to 1985.

    By Blogger Mushroom, at 5:31 PM  

  • Oh and last time the federal Liberals got a majority of the popular vote... 1940 (1984 for the Tories).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 7:00 PM  

  • The MMP voting changes being brought forward in Ontario are rediculous and will (thankfully) most certainly fail. The break-up of major parties and the center of power being forced to the fringes is not something steady as she goes Ontarians will relish.

    Having majority governments, whether they be Conservative or Liberal brings stability and rational policies to governments, which is good for the economy and piece of mind. Having governments run by the Hilliers or Smithermans of the province is not healthy for long term planning.

    Our current system is the most fair and accountable system of representitive democracy out there. We will keep it.

    By Blogger Andrew Smith, at 8:07 PM  

  • I think that if MMP is implemented, the idea of Big Party "A" and Big Party "B" being incompatible goes out the window, as does the idea of the "natural" flow of the political spectrum (which isn't all that natural - I consider myself to be someone with broad [albeit lopsided] political wings, without a whole lot in the centre).

    Remember back in the 1990's when the Reform Party vacuumed up most of the Prairie NDP vote? People didn't just slide back and forth along some imaginary spectrum, stopping to vote at the "next" party when disenfranchised with their own. In fact, I'd argue that, with MMP, the Liberal Party would lose some of its appeal; there's less of a need for a "big tent" party that encompasses many opposing viewpoints, when all of those opposing viewpoints can have their own voice in another viable political party. For example, I think that many more people would have voted PC/Reform/NDP federally in the 1990s, had these parties possessed the ability to be more than mere antagonists to a government that didn't have to give them the time of day.

    By Blogger daniel, at 8:12 PM  

  • Having majority governments, whether they be Conservative or Liberal brings stability and rational policies to governments, which is good for the economy and piece of mind. Having governments run by the Hilliers or Smithermans of the province is not healthy for long term planning.

    So-called majority governments also ensure that we can experience wild swings between parties and policies, depending on which group gets a plurality of the vote. In Ontario, that meant going from PC to Liberal to NDP to PC and back to Liberal. I'm not sure how you can get less stable than swinging from David Peterson to Bob Rae to Mike Harris.

    Had the MMP system been in place over that time, there would have been no NDP majority based on 37% of the vote, and the Harris government would not have been able to ignore the legislature.

    If stability is the goal, a system which generally ensures that no one party gains near total power based on a minority of votes will do it.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 10:10 PM  

  • Josh, you are missing the big picture, which has to do with the kind of parties produced by MMP/PR. They are fundamentally narrow parties, because there aren't the "increasing returns to scale" for creating a big tent.

    MMP leads to ideologically narrow parties holding guns to the heads of the old-line parties. As for stability, there are not just radical swings in elections, but also between them, as governing parties may switch partners (Labour, in New Zealand, has often worked with the anti-immigrant party, while not so much with the greens).

    As for Mike Harris, thank you for conveniently ignoring the decades upon decades of sleepy middle-of-the-road government in Ontario, and attributing a recessionary counter-revolution to "the electoral system".

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 10:40 PM  

  • Josh, you are missing the big picture, which has to do with the kind of parties produced by MMP/PR. They are fundamentally narrow parties, because there aren't the "increasing returns to scale" for creating a big tent.

    False. Germany has been using MMP since 1949 and over that period has had stable government. Only two large parties exist - the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats - and prior to the last decade or so, the only significant smaller party were the (European liberal) Free Democrats. More recently, the Greens and Left Party have emerged, though their support does not exceed the high single-digits. That brings the total number of parties up to five, same as we had in Parliament from 1993 to 2003, except the Germans avoided having purely regionalist (or separatist!) parties as the largest opposition party.

    So, your claim is simply wrong. Most countries with some form of PR (i.e. almost every country apart from Canada, the US, and the UK) have one or two big parties on the left and right, with a few small ones existing as junior coalition partners. Tell me, what is broad-based about the Bloc Quebecois? Or even Reform?

    MMP leads to ideologically narrow parties holding guns to the heads of the old-line parties. As for stability, there are not just radical swings in elections, but also between them, as governing parties may switch partners (Labour, in New Zealand, has often worked with the anti-immigrant party, while not so much with the greens).

    Your alarmist metaphor aside, MMP no more leads to "ideologically narrow" parties than does our current system. After all, the Harper government was only able to pass the recent budget with the support of Quebec separatists. How's that for holding a gun to the heads of the old-line parties?

    Our current system at the federal level exacerbates and exaggerates regional differences by rewarding parties that obtain regionally concentrated support - that's why Reform and the Bloc were able to dominate the West and Quebec, respectively, and why the Liberals were able to win almost 100 seats in Ontario in 2000.

    As for Mike Harris, thank you for conveniently ignoring the decades upon decades of sleepy middle-of-the-road government in Ontario, and attributing a recessionary counter-revolution to "the electoral system".

    How was it not due to the electoral system, pray tell? Rae would never had a majority - nor would have Harris.

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 11:42 PM  

  • Hoser, MMP wouldn't mean (and hasn't meant) the demise of traditional political parties - it just means that they have to consider issues other than those that would win them 40% of the vote.

    The opponents of MMP may have reason to oppose it, but it certainly wouldn't result the a free-for-all of one-issue parties taking over parliament that many seem to fear.

    By Blogger daniel, at 11:50 PM  

  • "As an aside, why do the Liberals get the privilege of being combined with either side?"

    Because the system is designed to create a coalition led by the Party with the highest vote-density (which in Canada's system is the Liberals), in conjunction with whichever Party is most politically adjacent at that election.

    It is a system specifically designed to exclude the more "extreme" elements of any Party from political influence. Ever. Unlike today's system, where a Party might choose to include (or exclude) them in their coalition prior to an election and let the Voters decide.

    MMP is designed to prevent voters from determining the result of an election, but rather to leave it to "power brokers" to create a government with no mandate from the People.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 3:30 AM  

  • The only point to that is that the pottential for a perpetual Liberal/NDP coalition is there...

    Nothing lasts forever (well at least everywhere but Alberta), CG. People will get sick of NDP/Libs. New parties will develop and voters will give them the boot.

    By Blogger Greg, at 6:48 AM  

  • Because the system is designed to create a coalition led by the Party with the highest vote-density (which in Canada's system is the Liberals), in conjunction with whichever Party is most politically adjacent at that election.

    Maybe you missed the numerous examples in this thread, or my post regarding the irrelevance of the political spectrum, but parties aren't going to be so myopic as to look one step to the left and one step to the right for coalition partners - I believe Hoser gave an example of the New Zealand Labour Party working with a right-wing anti-immigrant party while giving the Greens the cold shoulder.

    And I won't be shedding any tears if our current system goes the way of the Dodo; MPs, for the most part, are already mere talking heads anyway - why not have the amount of talking heads in the house be more reflective of the number of people who vote for them?

    By Blogger daniel, at 12:11 PM  

  • MMP is designed to prevent voters from determining the result of an election, but rather to leave it to "power brokers" to create a government with no mandate from the People.

    Tell me, how does our current system allow voters to determine the result of an election? At best, if you happen to support the plurality party, your guys will probably become the government. That is, of course, if by some quirk of the system, the "majority" party wins more seats than the party which won the most votes.

    That, of course, would never happen under first-past-the-post. Except when it does, like here, or here, or even here.

    So, I'll ask again - how does FPTP ensure that governments have "mandates" from the people?

    By Blogger Josh Gould, at 2:01 PM  

  • josh gould - on the issue of "mandates from the people", may I ask you about the benefits of list MP's over elected ones? This strikes me as a particular failing of PR, at least as proposed in Ontario. To whom are these people accountable? Who specifically would they represent? To quote you from your own blog,

    And why should any of us trust Fortier as an unelected and unaccountable minister

    By Blogger Red Canuck, at 2:36 PM  

  • Oh, come on, clearly under an MMP system the current parties would refshape themseleves to some extent. The more left elements of the Liberals would probably merge with some proportion of Dippers to form a centre-left party, while the more right Liberals and the more centrist Conservatives would probably form a centre-right party. There would probably be another two or three smaller parties that would hold the balance of power in any legislature. Makes no sense to look at the current *partisan* divide. A similar post with ideological distributions distributions would be more effective (but more difficult to obtain the data for).

    By Blogger Nicolas, at 2:52 PM  

  • i missed the point completely.

    since when does a party need a majority of votes to win the government? traditionally, 40% is what it takes, which is how Harris got in.

    By Blogger ktr, at 2:47 PM  

  • Thanks for solidifying my opposition to MMP!

    By Blogger Christian Conservative, at 3:58 PM  

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