Wednesday, August 15, 2007

DemocraticSpace: Should MMP Decision be Principled or Self-Interested?

Non-partisan blogger Greg Morrow wrote an excellent post on MMP today on his popular blog

In it, Morrow argues that Liberals and other party supporters should stick to their principles when deciding how to vote on Mixed Member Proportional this October 10th.

Here's an excerpt:

"I think the decision to go with MMP should be made on principles alone. But for many, they will assess whether or not the change works to their advantage or not (as in whether it helps their party or not). Our latest Ontario PROJECTIONS (while far too early from which to draw conclusions), illustrate why provincial Liberals would be voting against their interests if they voted against MMP. The projections show that despite being tied at 37% support, the PCs have a significant seat advantage over the Liberals (52 to 44). This is precisely due to the way votes are translated into seats. The PCs inherently have an advantage in Ontario (which means that everyone else has an inherent disadvantage). Certainly, this helps explain why many PCs are against change. But those Liberals that oppose change because they think it hurts their party’s chances would do well to remember the 40 years that they were out of power. So, even for those Liberals who refuse to make a decision based on principles, it is clear that MMP helps the Liberals by ensuring they get their fair share of seats. So MMP ensures that progressive voices from across the political spectrum are heard, commensurate with their support across the province. That helps Liberals, NDPers, Greens, and even the progressive side of the PC party. 64% of people voted Liberal/NDP/Green in 2003. And it’s a reasonable bet that 1 in 5 PC supporters (another 7-8%) is on the progressive side. So at least 70% of Ontarians are progressive. So if MMP fails, it will be because progressives voted against their principles *and* against their self interests."


A Quantum Liberal said...

What's this PC advantage when it comes to seat support vs popular support I keep reading about?


Matt said...

The PC advantage refers to the tendency in this province of the Tory party to win the most seats when they're virtually tied with the Liberals, or even slightly behind the Liberals in the popular vote across Ontario. The most recent examples would be the 1988 federal election where the Libs won 39% to the PCs 38% - but the PCs won 46 seats to the Liberals' 43. In 1985 provincially, the Libs won 38% of the vote, PC 37%, NDP 24% - this translated into PC 52, Libs 48 and NDP 25. In 1975 in Ontario, PCs won 36%, Libs 34%, NDP 29%, but in the seats, PCs won 51, NDP 38 and Libs 36.

A BCer in Toronto said...

Why 'Liberals and others'? Shouldn't everyone stick to their principles when reaching a position on MMP (a process I'm now going through myself)?

I think there's self-interest for each of the parties if the vote went one way or the other on MMP. No group is immune to the lure of self-interest over principle.

Also, it seems unfair to paint one side as a principled side, and therefore conversely the other side unprincipled. I'd like to think people could find principled reasons to be on either side of the debate, and have their decision, even if disagreed with, respected.

Matt Guerin said...

"Liberals and others" does encompass everybody. But sure I'll change the wording to Liberals and "other party supporters" to make it clearer. And of course no one is suggesting that only one side is principled. The point of Greg's piece is that everyone should consider their principles when deciding how to vote, and not merely consider self-interest. If one has no principles and only considers self-interest when deciding this issue, well that's unfortunate.