So, still sticking with the theme of voting (I know that can be scary for a blogger), let me pass on my thoughts about our own current vote, the one on electoral reform.
1. We’ve already voted on this issue twice. For the new government to bring it up again seems a bit disingenuous. No, let me be more blunt, because the intentions are pretty transparent: the current government, especially its coalition partner, the Greens, thinks pro-rep will strengthen their position in BC over the long-run. The referendum is nothing more than an attempt to do that. I don’t blame them, but let’s call a spade, a spade. (And I don’t hate the Greens.)
2. Although the first-past-the-post system has served us reasonably well, it has flaws that could be improved with pro-rep influence. I would definitely favour that.
3. Total proportional representation is too extreme, though, because it means that constant coalitions become normal; we will likely never have majority governments. The result is that the business of government bogs down. Also, coalitions are often short-lived, we frequently have government shake-ups much, and elections much too often. The occasional coalition can be a good thing, but to set up a system where that is the norm is, in my opinion, foolish. We certainly don’t need the political chaos of countries like Italy or Israel. And we don’t need radical parties dictating policies.
4. Pro-rep leads to party fracturing and more fringe parties, often with singular interests. That’s not all bad. Requiring a certain threshold vote level to be achieved before being allocated any seats is therefore appropriate. These proposals do that (5% required).
5. Ultimately, I would favour a “blend” of the two systems, whereby some of the members are voted in by a majority of votes in their constituency and some are distributed according to proportional representation.
6. I would have several bottom lines, though. One would be that all members who eventually are appointed to government are people who have earned that appointment by having been voted in by the people. Maybe they weren’t the highest vote-getter in their riding, but they were in the race, and were out making the effort to be the winner. They went through the process like all the other members. None should be “party hacks” or otherwise appointed by the parties themselves.
7. Another bottom line would be that all voters in the province should be treated equally, have the same voice in electing the members of the legislature.
I could likely imagine twenty, or more, different systems that meet these criteria myself, and I’m sure there are brighter minds who could come up with another twenty, or a hundred.
Unfortunately, none of the options we are presented with in this referendum come close to meeting these bottom lines:
1. While all are “mixed,” none are “blended.” In the end they are totally pro-rep, with the appointees who were not elected first-past-the-post being made not according to pro-rep but, instead, skewed to overcome the imbalance that the first-past-the-post reps likely created. These “mixed” systems are thinly disguised total pro-rep, with all the problems of point 3 above.
2. They do not meet criterion 6 above; they have not assured me that the pro-rep appointees are people we have freely elected, but are from party slates.
3. They do not meet criterion 7 above.
4. And, finally, they have not been fully thought through, nor explained well and, in fact, we are advised that a committee will sort the details out after the referendum. Huh? Seriously? That’s incredibly sloppy, probably reflecting a rush to get this through in time to be implemented before the next election! And who will appoint the committee? See point 1 above.