Sunday, September 30, 2007

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Won't the new system produce shaky, weak governments like the Toronto Star said today?

It's completely untrue. It's unfortunate the Toronto Star continues to mislead its readers on this question because voters don't have access to an adequate education campaign.

Most jurisdictions which use MMP have a history of very stable, effective governments that last for many years between elections. Comparing the results for the German and Irish proportional voting systems with results in Canada we see that the frequency of elections is unlikely to change significantly :

Ireland: 16 elections since 1948 - 1 election every 3.63 years
Germany: 16 elections since 1949 - 1 election every 3.56 years
Canada: 18 elections since 1945 - 1 election every 3.39 years

In these two countries, majority coalition governments are the norm. The great majority of major democracies are governed by coalitions. In fact, many countries (including Switzerland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) with very diverse populations have a history of very stable coalition government.

It seems the Toronto Star's research on other systems around the world stopped at Italy and Israel, both of which only suffered from instable governments when they had all-list Proportional Representation. To compare Ontario's version of MMP to those different versions of PR is disingenuous, but what else would you expect from the Star in this debate?

There are many people who wrongfully believe that minority governments or coalition governments can't get things done. Nothing could be further from the truth. Minority governments have a great history of accomplishment in Ontario, across Canada and around the world.

Mike Pearson's Liberal minority government in the 1960s not only introduced Medicare in Canada, but also many historic changes including the adoption of our Canadian flag. David Peterson's Liberal minority government from 1985 to 1987 was viewed by many to be one of the most effective and accomplished governments in Ontario history.


aginsberg said...

STV = MMP now? The last coalition government in the province of Ontario lasted less than 2 years. We are not talking about Germany.

Matt Guerin said...

Irish governments tend to last very long. German governments also tend to last very long (when not led by Angela Merkel).

Ontario has never had a coalition government, Aaron. Get your facts straight. Perhaps you're referring to David Peterson's Liberal minority government from 1985 to 1987 which was not a coalition. And the governent called that election, it wasn't defeated in the House...

Matt Guerin said...

p.s. Bill Davis' first minority government in 1975 lasted for two years yes, then he called an election in 1977 and got another minority government. Then Davis governed Ontario for four straight years with a minority government. Called another election in 1981, won a majority (with 44% support) and promptly raised taxes.

Minority governments in Ontario sound stable and good for voters to me. Majorities, on the other hand, tend to do crappy things like raise taxes without telling voters beforehand, or cut services and create structural deficits, among other disasters.

Dan said...

I remember when Schroeder was Chancellor of Germany that he was trying to engineer a defeat of his coalition to get an early election but it was very difficult because Germany minority governments are just that stable.