Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I'm Against MMP!!!

It took a while for me to even think about MMP. Hell, I still don't want to think about it.

The moral of the story is this: every radical wingnut political group that couldn't win a seat if they tried - and they have - is for it. Therefore, you know it ain't good.

I'm sorry but this isn't Europe or, for that matter, anywhere else that implements MMP. This is Canada. This is CANADA. We have a Parliamentary system. We've always had a Parliamentary system. Imagine our forefathers rolling over in their graves right now thinking: MMP? WTF?

Recently we had a meeting here in Niagara Falls organized the The Citizens for Democracy (as long as you agree with THEIR version of democracy). Their faithful leader, Mel Grunstein (lost in five elections for the Alliance, Reform and Conservative Parties)argued FOR MMP. In the end, nobody attended, and, most importantly, nobody understood it.

So, as a bell weather riding such as this, nobody cares and nobody wants to care. My analysis then leads me to believe that that would be the general consensus of the rest of the province.

I have a hard time understanding why anyone in the two major parties (no the NDP is not one of the two) would even consider supporting MMP. It's a bad idea. Moreover, I think it would lead to even less representation by the smaller parties.

So, in October, I fully anticipate the sound defeat of MMP. Keep in mind, I know nothing.


Mark Greenan said...

Just as many parliamentary democracies use PR as do our current system.

And the ones that do have higher voter satisfaction, better environmental policies, spend more on social services and less on prisons and defence (Lijphart - Patterns of Democracy).

Scott Tribe said...

That's a red herring argument if I ever saw one, Jim. The fact of the matter is, every "wing-nut group" would still have to get a minimum of 3% to get even a single seat in the legislature under the PR setup. The Green have only recently gotten over that threshold - no one else has even come close.

The real reason many of the big parties supporters don't like it is that they hate the fact they'd actually, you know, have to take the rest of the province's opinions into account. No elected dictatorships for 4 years - you'd have to make policies with consensus... and a lot of the party brass don't want anything to do with that.

We have a parliamentary democracy yes - but so does Germany - but they use MMP, and have since World War 2, and no one there is crying over wanting to go to our setup.

Tradition is no reason to keep something if it is flawed, and our 900 year old setup of government is. MMP isn't perfect, but it's a heck of a lot better then First-Past-The Post.

Dr.Dawg said...

Since the early 1930s, every single majority government in Ontario was elected by a minority of the electorate. Democracy, eh?

As for the canard that MMP is hard to understand, let me make it so simple that even I can understand it:

40% of the vote for a party means 40% of the seats in the legis- lature. Easy.

James Curran said...

So MMP is for the people, by the people? Really? So how do we address the 50% of the population that don't vote at all? Should we just leave some empty seats?

Jim said...

So how do we address the 50% of the population that don't vote at all? Should we just leave some empty seats?

Considering it only takes 40% of the population to elect a government, I think we should do away with the electoral system largely responsible for that 50% who doesn't feel it necessary to show up at the polls.

Empty seats, likely won't get them to show up - MMP, might, though.

James Curran said...

"After Bismarck's dismissal in 1890 by the young emperor Wilhelm II, Germany stepped up its competition with other European states for colonies and for what it considered its proper place among the great states. An aggressive program of military expansion instilled fear of Germany in its neighbors. Several decades of military and colonial competition and a number of diplomatic crises made for a tense international atmosphere by 1914. In the early summer of that year, Germany's rulers acted on the belief that their country's survival depended on a successful war against Russia and France. German strategists felt that a war against these countries had to be waged by 1916 if it were to be won because after that year Russian and French military reforms would be complete, making German victory doubtful. This logic led Germany to get drawn into a war between its ally Austria-Hungary and Russia. Within weeks, a complicated system of alliances escalated that regional conflict into World War I, which ended with Germany's defeat in November 1918.

The Weimar Republic, established at war's end, was the first attempt to institute parliamentary democracy in Germany. The republic never enjoyed the wholehearted support of many Germans, however, and from the start it was under savage attack from elements of the left and, more important, from the right. Moreover, it was burdened during its fifteen-year existence with serious economic problems. During the second half of the 1920s, when foreign loans fed German prosperity, parliamentary politics functioned better, yet many of the established elites remained hostile to it. With the onset of the Great Depression, parliamentary politics became impossible, and the government ruled by decree. Economic crisis favored extremist politicians, and Adolf Hitler's National Socialist German Workers' Party became the strongest party after the summer elections of 1932. In January 1933, the republic's elected president, Paul von Hindenburg, the World War I army commander, named a government headed by Hitler.

Within a few months, Hitler accomplished the "legal revolution" that removed his opponents. By 1935 his regime had transformed Germany into a totalitarian state. Hitler achieved notable economic and diplomatic successes during the first five years of his rule. However, in September 1939 he made a fatal gamble by invading Poland and starting World War II. The eventual defeat of Hitler's Third Reich in 1945 occurred only after the loss of tens of millions of lives, many from military causes, many from sickness and starvation, and many from what has come to be called the Holocaust."

Germany didn't start with an elected government. They started with Emporers. They never really figured out a Parliamentary system as we know it. I'm not sure if 614 elected officials begins to represent a government of efficiency Scott.

It would appear to me that two parties still control the government in Germany. You DO see that right?

Mark Greenan said...

"MMP is for the people, by the people"

Sounds like a good description on the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to me!

Mark Greenan said...

What's the point of that long piece about Germany?!?

Sure, the historical development of its democracy is different than in Britain, but I don't think that means it's better.

And you're right, the government in Germany has been mostly led by two parties.

But a big difference is that voters in those countries have much more choice, as they can vote for many other parties and rest assured their vote will be reflected in the legislature.

I fail to see how this is nothing but a positive thing for democracy, accountability and good government.

James Curran said...

Here's a question. How many countries use MMP? Anyone?

Peter Loewen said...

No Scandanavian country uses MMP. And every country that uses MMP is a parliamentary democracy. You clearly know very little about what you speak.

James Curran said...

Thank you Peter, I concede the Scandinavian thing. Here's the MMP list that I know of.

New Zealand

9 out of 194 countries. Not an overwhelming endorsement for the MMP.

The two G8 countries that utiize MMP, Germany and Italy both instituted their systems after reigns of terror at the end of WWII...well, only half of Germany. The other half was a wee bit communist.

I'm certain that the Autonomy Liberty Democracy Party and their 1 seat out of 630 is having a huge impact on the state of Italy.

How much would it cost to run a government with 630 members in the house anyway? Think there's any waste there?

Peter Loewen said...

Italy does not use MMP. Nor does Hungary, strictly speaking. But, anyways, what's your point? They are all still parliamentary democracies.

How many countries, pray tell, use SMP as which we currently do? Hint: you could count them on one hand. Now, that's not a reason to vote against SMP. But it's not really a reason to vote against MMP either.

Funny that someone who wants to run for office thinks that politicians are a waste of money.

James Curran said...

Really. A handful? Here's the list of countries that use pluarality systems

Antigua and Barbuda
The Gambia
Federated States of Micronesia
Papua New Guinea
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Lucia
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Solomon Islands
South Korea
Trinidad and Tobago
United Kingdom
United States (except for Louisiana)
Zimbabwe .

You must have one big hand.

James Curran said...

This is one of the better documents ofn electoral reform.


Peter Loewen said...

Jim, you have to compare apples to apples. There are few countries which use strict MMP and there are few which use strict SMP. If you compare those which use some element of PR with those that use some element of SMP, then both of the lists can explode, and overlap. The point is that how many countries use a system really doesn't matter all that much to its merits.

As for the document to which you've linked, I sd note that it ends with a recommendation for MMP.

Look, I think either system is democratic, though they have distinctly differnet strengths. But attacking one system on such flawed logic - like saying it will lead to less representation for smaller parties - demonstrates that you are fitting arguments to your conclusions and not the other way around.

Any response as to why you want to become another money wasting politician?

James Curran said...

Talk about fitting arguments. Where in this thread did I say "politicians were a waste of money?"

Duplicity of Government is a waste of money Peter. 630 members in the house and 350 members in the senate might lead to "extra costs".

I hardly think Lord Alexander, in his notes of caution in the report I offer to you gave his overwhelming endorsement to AV...a derivitive of MMP.

Attacking my decision to run for office one day is hardly a good argument to support MMP.

UofO Liberal said...

I am voting for MMP... simply on the basis that I know it will fail. I am voting for it in principle because if this province ever votes for a change in electoral system, it is the one I would choose over any other alternative.

Proportional Representation is impossible in a country as large as Canada. everyone touts PR for Canada because of its success in Europe... please someone take a geography lesson, our provinces are larger than upwards of 10 countries combined in terms of space! I am not going to endorse any system in Canada that will remove the ability for regional representation in our legislatures.

Single-Transferable Vote is a very very complicated system much like the Alternative Vote, but my real beef with STV is the fact that it bulks ridings together, so instead of Ottawa having 9 ridings, it would have 1 riding with 9 representatives.... how do we ensure the francophone vote in Ottawa-East wouldnt be drowned by the west end??

The Alternative vote is very much like the ballots we used for Leadership DSMs. How many weeks did they have training sessions for members to vote, we going to do that EVERY 4 years with Canadians to understand HOW they are supposed to vote? If we had such difficulty with 200,000 members, what about 30 million?

MMP does have its flaws, such as the party's ability to nominate the list members and our legislature will increase in size. I believe if there is an honest debate on MMP in the party we can have a fair and open process for the nomination for list members - but who am I kidding...

MMP however will allow a slightly fairer representation of the minority parties - Greens and NDP, and might cost a couple seats to the Grits and Tories. However, we start to get a better balance of PR in our system, whilst at the same time ensuring solid regional representation in the provincial legislature.

I am for MMP only on the principle that there is NO other alternative to FPTP I would support... so if Ontario chooses change, IF it does, this is the change I would see as most functional in our system.

But a 60/60 rule during an election that has NO discussion on the topic, it is bound to failure! I find it quite hypocritical... everyone who is a political cynic complains about electoral reform... and now they have a choice to make, and NO ONE is seriously and publicly discussing this issue... so its sexy to complain, but not sexy to act?

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I'm sorry but this isn't Europe or, for that matter, anywhere else that implements MMP. This is Canada. This is CANADA. We have a Parliamentary system. We've always had a Parliamentary system.

And so has every country that has MMP. Do you even know what a parliamentary system is? You're really not making the 'no' side look very good, here.

James Curran said...

The "no" side looks good on its own. It doesn't need me to help it along. More than I can say for the yes side.

BTW. The ballot will not have yes or no on it. Not anywhere.