Friday, October 26, 2007

Skinning Differs From Decapitation

As I've mentioned previously the trend lately among former proponents of MMP is to now come out in favour of STV. I really shouldn't care. However, I find the position completely inconsistent. There are few to any similarities between STV and MMP. Let's do a breakdown of the arguments for and features of each one (I'll leave the counter-arguments out, for the sake of discussion):

MMP: - Provides proportionality while maintaining some level of direct representation.
- Allows voters to distinguish between party and person.
- Fairly consistent with current system.
- Accurately represents small, often single issue, parties
- Encourages coalition building
- Encourages diversity (I didn't say the arguments had to be true)

STV: - Allows voters to indicate preference
- Encourages moderation of views
- Multiple representatives
- All members are equal (formula focuses on each candidate just meeting threshold)
- All members still locally accountable

What is notable in this comparison is these systems do not share very many features. STV is not proportional (the BC Greens objected to this point). MMP creates two types of differently abled politicians. MMP (the Ontario model) maintains the one riding, one member system. STV focuses on multi-member districts. STV has no mechanism that could be used to increase diversity. MMP rewards small, single issue parties. STV rewards large brokerage parties that can appeal to a broad base. The only things these two systems have in common are the features that exist in the current system and the fact that they are decidedly not the current system. If advocacy for reform is blind to their own proposals, we have a problem. If they truly like both of these systems what common feature are they advocating?


cdlu said...

You hit the nail on the head -- the common feature they are advocating is that both are "different", or not the status quo.

Personally I, too, would like moderate electoral reform. STV is on the right track, but several stations too far. Instant Run-Off voting, which takes the best features of STV and the best features of SMP and merges them, would be the ideal future for us.

It is in use in the lower house in Australia, with the (constitutionally weaker) upper house there using STV.

Scott Tribe said...

Again.. not quite true. When STV is used in a single-winner election, it is the same as instant-runoff voting, and is definitely not proportional

When used in multi-seat constituencies, it is also called proportional representation through the single transferable vote (PR-STV).

aginsberg said...

If you can explain to me how Irish election results are proportional, then I will accept your argument. Otherwise, STV is about as "proportional" as the DPRK is "democratic". I am referring to the BC model which involved multi-member districts.

Anonymous said...

Elections in Ireland are run with multi-seat constituencies. Thus, it is a form of proportional representation.

aginsberg said...

So, parties losing votes and gaining seats is "proportional"... why don't we just call FPTP proportional? Multi-member districts does not equal proportionality.

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