Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The Electoral Reform Cult and the Vote Splitting NDPers

As Jagmeet Singh heads for the finishing line, still urging Canadians to vote for the NDP even in ridings where that party can only split the vote and elect Cons, his supporters react in kind:

And since I can imagine what they will say, if they elect a Scheer majority that will dismember our country and its values.

I thought I might suggest that those who believe that electoral reform can cure all that ails our democracy, might read this review of a book that strongly suggests that proportional representation is not as advertised.

It is easy to debunk the idea that a PR system would deliver better governance to Canada. Studies by noted scholars (many of whom also presented to the parliamentary committee) have demonstrated that voters in proportional systems are no happier with how they elect their legislatures than Canadians are with their FPTP system. People are not pleased to see government depend on political coalitions that, in turn, rely on small parties to stay in power. They do not like the idea that these coalitions are formed by agreements hatched in the dark. What is all the more remarkable is that people who voted for parties that are left out of governing coalitions are even less satisfied. In other words, there is absolutely no empirical evidence that Canadian democracy would be improved by the adoption of some system of proportional representation.

Many advocates of PR imagine that the Canadian parliament in a system such as this would remain as it is, but with more seats for the NDP (or the Greens). The reality, given the history of Canada, is more likely that such a system would give life to multiple parties of regional and sectoral interests, each with valid claims. People have forgotten that over a dozen parties (including the big-tent parties) have been represented in the House of Commons since 1867. Dozens more were also created, but never succeeded. In a system where there is already a strong impulse to create parties, a PR model would encourage it even more. The evidence is clear in other jurisdictions that have adopted it. It makes for great political theatre, but makes governance unpredictable and unstable.

As for me, this best explains why Justin Trudeau opted not to go ahead with electoral reform at that time, after the ratty partisan Nathan Cullen sided with the Cons to demand a referendum.

Polls and referendums consistently show that, notwithstanding its flaws, the FPTP system is considered valuable and that only a minority of voters want it changed. Various surveys also clearly show that Canadians want any proposals to be put to a popular vote.

For if only a minority of Canadians support the idea of electoral reform, a divisive and extremely expensive referendum would have almost certainly resulted in yet another defeat, and effectively buried the idea for a generation.

So it can be argued that Trudeau actually saved ER for discussion at another time.

But of course now is NOT that time.

Now is the time to put our country before our parties, and vote for those in every riding who can best keep the ugly American and his RepubliCons out of power...

You know, ABC. Anyone but the Cons.

It sounds so simple, but with NDP friends like Mr Bottom, who needs enemies?


Here's another reality check. Jagmeet Singh may be a really nice guy, and I think he's really cool. But he's no man of the people. 

Jagmeet has a taste for dandy luxuries that don’t comport with the monkish minimalism of his party. He wears bespoke suits in the slim British style—his favourite is a brown tweed with cobalt-blue stripes, designed by a tailor in New Delhi, which he often pairs with a millennial-pink turban. He owns two Rolex watches, an Oyster Perpetual Datejust and a ­Submariner (both were gifts); a crimson BMW coupe; and six designer bicycles.

Yes, yes. I know.

The truth is inconvenient, but only it can set us free...


Anonymous said...

My girlfriend wanted to vote Green but I'm forcing her to vote Liberal. She protested but I put my foot down. Our riding is close to being lost to the NDP according to the polls. We can't fool around and let Scheer in. Strategic voting people, do not let the Cons steal our Canada.

Jackie Blue said...

Where's our vote-splitting anti-ABC comrade troll from yesterday? He's probably aware -- and pissed -- that a well-known "neoliberal shill" just endorsed Justin Trudeau.

Well I have one thing to say to that guy. If you're too pure for Barack Obama, then GTFO. Because he's got some words for petulant progressive purists too. Something about a circular firing squad and shooting oneself in the foot.

Eat it, Bernouts and DipperCons. Obama knows best.

rumleyfips said...

Proportional Rep is just silly. It would let the parties appoint people we were not allowed to vote for. Less democracy not more.

Mixed member is just silly. The key word is mixed. Too confusing to help.

Ranked ballot is the best of a bad bunch but it may just give the same result as FPP. Why bother.

FPP is problematic, better than some alternatives and equal to others.

Of the four alternatives , I rank Ranked Ballot and FPP equal firsts and Proportional Rep and Mixed member equally last.

Next week, I will probably try to dig into vote ranking in a few riding to see what difference FPP and Ranked Ballot would make. I hope others do too.

John B. said...

Heaven forbid that anyone be elected to Parliament and then proceed to represent some regional or sectoral interest independent of the party system. Just imagine the lies he would have told to be elected.

ottlib said...

If I may provide a little perspective on things.

In 2015, just five days from the election the Liberals were at 35%, the Conservatives were at 32% and the NDP was at 22%. At the time the media finally had to admit that the Conservatives would probably lose government so the narrative in the final days was the NDP would prevent Mr. Trudeau from achieving a majority. All of the polls and poll aggregaters duly provided the "data" to back up this narrative. That narrative lasted until the votes were counted. Sound familiar?

On October 19 the Liberals wound up with 39%, the Conservatives 30% and the NDP received 19% of the vote.

This is not new. The NDP polling well in the final week only to fall back on election day has happened in every election going back to 2004 with the exception of 2011. The NDP were not an issue before 2004 because they were a mess after the 1993 election, even losing official party status for awhile and it took them more than a decade to get their act together.

All of the polls I see put the NDP at 18%, on average, for this election. Since voters have proven time and again that they will tell pollsters one thing and do something else when they go behind that cardboard screen I would expect that number to go down and not up on October 21. I would say 15% is a good guess.

Give Mr. Singh credit. His campaign has given NDP partisans hope again. Like Mr. Trudeau and Mr. Scheer he has energized his base. However, the NDP are second only to the Green Party in vote inefficiency. Alot of those votes are going to be cast in ridings where they have no hope of winning and the rest will be cast in seats that have traditionally elected NDP members. So expect the NDP to win seats in small pockets of Ontario, BC and maybe one of two in Manitoba and/or the Maritimes. I think that they have lost Quebec.

At the best of times I always say ignore the polls. If you really want to see how things are going watch where the party Leaders are going. The media narrative is the Liberals could lose but if that were the case Mr. Trudeau would not have campaigned, for the last two weeks, in Conservative and NDP ridings and areas. It is true he went to the Maritimes a couple of days ago but before that he was in Conservative and NDP country in Ontario and BC and he is in NDP territory in Quebec today. If the Liberals thought they were going to lose they would be shoring up their support where they are already strong not going to places where they are not strong. I would also point out that we are two weeks to the day from the TVA debate, when the media first detected the Bloc "surge" and Mr. Trudeau just visited Quebec for the first time since then, not including the two trips to Gatineau for the other debates. Again that is strange behaviour for a party leader who, according to our wonderfully objective media, is threatened by the Bloc in Quebec.

It should also be noted that Mr. Scheer and Mr. Singh are also campaigning in ridings held by their opponents so it would seem that election day will probably result in seats changing hands but it is doubtful that the seat distribution will be changed too drastically.

One final note on the media. I have said this to my fellow Liberals for over a decade. The media are not a friend of the Liberal Party so stop buying what they are selling. I have pretty much come to the conclusion that if our media says the sky is blue I am looking outside to be certain they are telling the truth.

Jackie Blue said...

You may be right about the polls. The seat projections are unfathomable. Grenier and a few others just updated a few minutes ago (blessings to Frank Graves) and showed it double-tied for the second time in a week. Some twitter user referred to this as a double helix election. If 130-130-38-38 was the result on election day (which it wouldn't be), all four of the main party leaders (plus Lizzie, Max if he even wins his own seat and Judas if she sticks around) should just quit and Trudeau ask the GG to appoint a pair of Siamese cats as co-prime ministers. Siamese twins, in other words. This whole election has been absolutely ridiculous. None of these media people know what they're doing and what a travesty that they're allowed to keep their jobs.

Anonymous said...

Ranked ballots are a good way to get some proportionality into representation, though the devil is in the details.
In the current system, the candidate with the most votes wins the riding. They are then responsible to all constituents. Any system that has lists of designated MPs for parties seems to be problematical. I can call my MP's office and bend their ear with "I voted for you, you so and so, why are you doing X?" and with secret ballots I can say that even if I voted for someone else. The mixed member stuff just makes us more distant from our MPs in my view.

I think the most effective way to add proportionality is reinstating the per vote so called "subsidy", so that your vote effectively sends money to your preferred party. Calling it a subsidy was a masterpiece of marketing when really it is using the electoral system, with its secret ballots, as an efficient way to send money to parties without being recorded as a supporter of this party or that. I think most of the money parties get should be supplied this way.
Since the more votes you get the more money you get, you can mount a better campaign with more money.

ottlib said...

A little more perspective. The rise of the NDP does not just threaten the Liberals and it could potentially help them in some places.

In some parts of the country the splits that need to be worried about is not the split of progressive but the split of the anti-Liberal vote. Most of the NDP ridings in Quebec and a few of the Conservative seats fall under that category. In those ridings the Liberals came second because the anti-Liberal vote coalesced around a single party. Now in those ridings there seems to be two anti-Liberal choices. The Liberals are targeting these ridings because they are ripe for the taking. They have poured in money and resources into these ridings to ID and pull every Liberal supporter they can find. If they succeed in pulling that vote any split in the anti-Liberal vote could cause some interesting results.

In BC the NDP is as likely to take from the Conservatives as the Liberals. They could win some seats that are now in the Conservative column. The same is true of Manitoba. A few years ago Saskatchewan might have been a place for them to win a seat or two as well but the people of that province are drunk on oil and they have gone full out Alberta.

If the Conservatives have any chance of winning the election they have to hang on to ALL of the seats they currently hold in the West. If they lose any seats in the West they will have to make up for them East of the Ontario/Manitoba border. That is a tall order.

This election could surprise us yet but the Liberals are still the favourite to win this election at this point.

Anonymous said...

"I don't give a shit if it delivers a Scheer government."
Kyle Bottom has shown that he, along with all the other whiny Dippers are prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face over electoral reform. Seriously??? JT not opening the can of worms of the quagmire of electoral reform was the best thing he could do as it allowed his government the many achievements under his mandate. I believe it has more to do with their dislike, or better yet, derangement syndrome where JT is concerned.
Waste your votes if you must you whiny dippers, it is your right. However, if you help elect Scheer, then I hope you get everything you deserve as he returns us to the dark years of the Harper era.

lagatta à montréal said...

You force your girlfriend how to vote? In what century are you living?

Anonymous said...

One of the problems with taking FPP results and applying them to Ranked Ballot is that it assume that people would vote the same under Ranked Ballot as under FPP, and also that candidates and parties would campaign the same. That just may not be so.


Jackie Blue said...

I dunno Ottlib, if the Liberals really were cool and collected, why would Butts be retweeting Adler's warnings about splitting the vote, and Trudeau say the Cons have a good chance? GOTV tactics or real worry? I just saw an article saying all the embassies in Ottawa are writing their home countries fearful of a Con win. When even the embassies are seeing dark clouds on the horizon, doesn't that raise a red -- er, blue -- flag? Or are they just drowning in the same negative Con press as everybody else?

Also, I know you ignore polls, but how accurate was Mainstreet in 2015? Quito Maggi tweeted last night that he's seeing something different than all the others -- he actually said 1997 -- and I don't know who's right. Scheer went on talk radio saying his internal polling shows a likely Con win but he lies about everything else so I don't know if he's bluffing. Also someone brought up that his internal pollster might be Nick Kouvalis, who is notorious for skewing his results in favor of the Cons and got into a Twitter pissing match with Maggi last night betting him $1,000 on his predictions. But Singh seems to be just as adept of a self-serving liar who has let newfound fame go to his head and is a pied piper leading gullible people off a cliff.

I'm just scared because I don't know who or what to believe anymore. And the suspense is killing me because we won't know until October 21, but right now at least it doesn't look good.

ottlib said...

Jackie, just because I indicated that the Liberals are cool and collected does not mean that they believe this is going to be a cake walk. As for the rest it is all noise.

In 2015 the Conservatives won just over 30% of the vote and and won 99 seats. That is, they won the Conservative base and that is it. If the polls are to be believed they are now at around 32%, which is their base and little extra, probably no more than 15 seats because of the inefficiency of their vote. The Liberals are also at around 32% which is also their base and a little extra, which because of their more efficient vote would probably net them around 130 seats. However, make no mistake if either one of these parties only nets 32% of the vote on Monday they will lose.

At dissolution the Conservatives had 95 seats. They may be able to count on another 15 seats in the West but that is it. So, that is 110 seats. They may be able to win 5 seats in the Maritimes, so that would be 115 seats. I am going to be generous and say they will not lose any seats in Quebec but they will not gain any either. That means in order for them to just form a minority government they need to win a minimum of 25 seats FROM THE LIBERALS in Ontario. If they win NDP seats in Ontario but not the 25 from the Liberals they still lose. If they were close to accomplishing that we would first see it as a clear lead in the polls and then we would see the Liberals scrambling through Ontario trying to shore up those Liberal seats. That is not the case. The Liberals campaigned in mostly Conservative and NDP seats, in Ontario, during the beginning of the week and they have spent the last two days campaigning in mostly NDP seats in Quebec.

It is still possible that the people of Ontario could surprise us. So, on Monday the Conservatives and the Liberals will be pushing hard to get out their base out to vote. I suspect that both will be successful and the election will be decided by the swing voters I mentioned in my own blog at the beginning of the week.

With regard to polls they missed the majority government in 2011 and 2015.