Monday, October 1, 2007

Andrew Coyne: Debunking the fearmongers

The following article written by columnist Andrew Coyne appeared in the National Post on the weekend. It's another excellent read from a writer who generally supports conservative policies. Here's an excerpt:

"On the surface, the new electoral system proposed for Ontario would look a lot like the current system. The vast majority of members of the provincial legislature -- 90 out of 129 -- would be elected in the same way as they are now: in local ridings, by the first-past-the-post method. The other 39 members would be elected provincewide on the basis of a party's share of the overall vote, from lists of candidates drawn up by the parties for this purpose. Hence the name: mixed-member proportional (MMP).

"For voters, likewise, things would look much the same. You'd mark one X for the candidate you prefer in your riding, as you do now, plus another X for your choice of party. Where the number of members a party elected in the ridings was less than its share of the party vote, the list members would be used to bring it up to par. If, say, the NDP won 15 of the 90 local ridings, but had 20% of the vote -- entitling it to 26 seats overall -- the top 11 candidates on the party's list would also get seats.

"So in one sense, little would change. But in another sense, everything would. No longer would parties win massive "majorities" with a minority of the vote. No longer would a vote for one party count for three or four times as much as another. No longer would new parties with wide support be shut out, in favour of parties with a narrow regional power base -- though they would have to win at least 3% of the vote provincewide to be eligible.

"Indeed, apologists for the status quo have more or less given up arguing for first past the post on its merits. The pretense that it delivers 'stable majorities' can no longer be sustained: recent elections in Ontario have produced, in order, NDP, Conservative and Liberal governments, none with a majority of the votes, yet each interpreting the support of its own minority as a mandate to impose a succession of radically different policy regimes on the rest of us."

1 comment:

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

I can't wait for his next column!

If I have to debunk this notion that list MPPs are appointed to the legislature and not elected one more time I swear I'll scream.