Tuesday, February 10, 2009

How to Elect A Government Under PR

Step 1: Vote
Step 2: Count
Step 3: Six weeks of backroom deals.

I love Israeli elections.


Chrystal Ocean said...

Wrong. Not all PR systems are the same. And there's plenty of backroom dealing that happens with FPTP.

Scott Tribe said...

Yup, this is a rather broad stroke of the brush Aaron is doing with PR.. but that's nothing new.

Antony Hodgson said...

How to Elect a Government Under FPTP:

1. Vote
2. Count
3. Take power on barely a third of the vote
4. Rule as if you have a 100% mandate
5. Keep all dissent within your party's backrooms
6. Treat opposition as interference or treason
7. Don't talk to the press
8. When you finally lose an election, complain that the new government has no mandate to rule on barely a third of the vote and that they're not representing the voters.

Castor Rouge said...

This is the most simple and eloquent burn of PR I've ever read. Well done (ps - with respect to Anthony, Harper's monority should not be the one by which we judge all FPTP minorities, I'd put any in our history against his).

Ron said...

That might be how they do it in Isreal but in Canada Liberals and NDP do it the old fashioned way - behind the scenes buying and selling of Cabinet seats and Senate seats - PR leads to less democracy and more of the corrupt practices where power is bought and sold. Minorities require honest opposition - both the Bloc and NDP have no interest in a functioning Parliament and will destroy it when possible. Liberals are for sale and will vote for the Conservatives until they think they can win an election - none of these three truly care about anyone but themselves. It isn't the system that is the problem, it is the lack of quality of the elected members.

Antony Hodgson said...

Ron, I'd say minority governments and opposition parties in Canada have no interest in creating a functioning parliament because they're all trying to get to the next election and win a (generally unearned) majority government on 37-39% of the vote.

In contrast, under a PR system, a party with 37-39% of the vote knows that they can't be so dogmatic and blow off 60+% of the voters, but have to take majority views into account. They can't insist on having their own way because they'll be defeated, and they don't want to call an election because the electorate won't have swung tremendously in their favour and will likely be ticked off at them for triggering another election solely in hopes of gaining partisan advantage, so their best strategy is actually to do what political parties are supposed to do in the first place - work at building consensus.

The biggest difference under PR systems is that these negotiations become public, not hidden away in a party's backrooms, because each party has to be able to take credit for what it has achieved. In the end, PR governments produce markedly increased voter satisfaction (on average, about 17 percentage points higher than in Canada), less labour unrest, better environmental and social performance, and equivalent overall economic performance.

I sort of agree with you about the lack of quality of elected members, but I see that as the natural outcome of a voting system that rewards them for behaving that way - by doing what's in their own individual self-interest, we produce a result that's societally idiotic. Improve the system, as has been recommended in BC, and we'll have taken a concrete step towards improving the quality and behaviour of our MLAs.

Anonymous said...

In STV, there is a trade-off between proportionality and local representation. For example BC-STV could produce very proportional results using all 7 and 9 member constituencies but the constituencies outside of Victoria and Vancouver would have to be huge.

Your comment about Ireland is not 100% relevant here. I understand that Ireland uses on average smaller member constituencies than are planned for BC.

Also, few if any PR systems in the world are perfectly proportional. Proportionality is relative and the proportionality resulting from FPTP is very low.

You may be able to generate the 1996 results on paper but it would be extremely unlikely to happen in an actual vote.

I wish you armchair quarterbacks would get some advice before you write this crap.

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