By guest blogger Alison@Creekside
The first line is the percentage of votes for each party.
The second line is the number of seats awarded them by our current First-Past-the-Post system.
The third line is how those votes would have been redistributed as seats under Mixed Member Proportional.
That’s it. Under MMP, Canada would join the hundreds of other countries in the world who already enjoy proportional representation in which every vote counts and seats are won on the basis of how people vote.
So why does a recent SES poll of Ontario voters, who are due to vote on this for Ontario today, show only 26% support for MMP, compared to the 54% in favour of keeping the First-Past-the-Post status quo?
The Mainly Sloppy Media has a lot to answer for here and G&M;’s Ian Coutts tops the lot. First he takes a swipe at the legitimacy of the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, who, incidentally, voted 98 to 6 in favour of MMP:
“Numbering 103 people in total, one from every riding in the province, they were drawn from many walks of life, not experts but ordinary people — just like the ordinary people who voted for Brian Melo over Jaydee Bixby on ‘Canadian Idol’ this year.”
Then he goes on to argue that Someone might form the Annoy Your Neighbour Party, win a seat, and become kingmakers; but even worse, once people realized their vote would actually count, tragically more of them would vote. I’m not kidding :
“And you know what? Once people see that their vote makes a difference, that their party can get in and make changes, they will come flocking back to the electoral arena.”
In an earlier column, he contradicts this, arguing that the claim that MMP results in a higher voter turnout — and it does — isn’t true after all anyway. Just look at New Zealand, he says, where voter turnout actually went down :
“In 1995, the first election after MMP was brought in, voter turnout was sharply up, from 79.6 % in 1993 to 83.6%, but it has generally continued declining after that, and was at 80.1% in 2005.”
Only 80% ???
The main reasons people give for not voting are that politicians are crooks and liars who don’t address their concerns, and their vote doesn’t make a difference anyway.
Or, as Rick Mercer puts it : the two reasons elected politicians don’t do what they promised to do during their election campaigns are:
1) you already voted for them . . . and
2) you already voted for them
Most likely to feel this way are women, youth, and minorities — all of whom are under-represented in the current provincial and federal FPtP systems.
In the 2006 federal election, the Cons got 36% of the 64% who voted.
What’s 36% of 64%? … 23%.
We’re being governed by the guys who got 23% of the possible vote and who apparently feel justified in behaving as if this was a majority.
In Ontario, winning 40% of the vote means the winner takes all. This increases the importance of a handful of swing vote ridings so they are the ones catered to during an election. In a very real sense, aside from those who live in those particular ridings, no one else’s vote counts.
In my inbox is a pro-MMP petition signed by Stephen Lewis, Linda McQuaig, Bob Rae, David Suzuki, Olivia Chow, Stompin’ Tom Connors, Andrew Coyne, Elizabeth May, Mel Hurtig, Joy Kogawa, Rafe Mair, Judy Rebick, and Rick Salutin.
On the other side are the guys who are quite happy to have a minority hog an unfair proportion of political clout.
Your choice, Ontario. Don’t screw this up.
Editor’s note: They screwed up. First-past-the-post: 62.4%. MMP: 37.6%.
First posted in Creekside.
Bonus: Electoral system pop quiz