Monday, September 24, 2007

Different Landscape With Mixed Member Proportional

If the mixed member proportional (MMP) system is adopted we will see a very different political landscape in Ontario. As I mentioned in a previous article, the current system encourages compromise and alliances within the party structures; MMP shifts those compromises and alliances to the legislature.

The result will be the creation of new parties and the decline, at least somewhat, of our existing parties. Take for example the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario. It is an informal alliance of farmers, red tories, fiscal conservatives and social conservatives. It can be an uneasy alliance, in fact we saw this uneasiness split and destroy the federal Progressive Conservative Party. What happened federally also demonstrates the value of seeking out compromise and alliances within the party structure in our current system. With an MMP system one or more of these groups is likely to split off. And you will see the same thing happen with the NDP, whom I would say is an alliance of labour, environmentalists, socialists, and progressives. If the right groups split off from those two parties it will inevitably draw Liberal supporters as well. For example, the environmentalist and progressive movements would appeal to Liberals as well as the red tories.

In my last article I described a good reason why a party would not run local candidates and would only compete for list candidates. It is almost certain that some of these new parties would only compete for list candidates. The bottom line is that there is no benefit for a smaller party to run local candidates; every local candidate you win is subtracted from the list candidates you are entitled to. That will encourage alliances between parties similar to the "sister" party relationship I described. It will also distort, to some degree, what MMP is hoping to accomplish.

The end result can only be described as better or worse depending upon your own perspective. However, I believe the NDP party is the one most likely to split apart, with the Conservatives having some splitting of their base as well. The Liberals will probably become the dominant party in a new MMP system and will need to seek out the support of two or three other parties to form a majority coalition.


CT said...

"The bottom line is that there is no benefit for a smaller party to run local candidates."

That's not true: there are huge benefits by way of credibility and increased presence on the ground. Any party hoping to win a serious amount of seats and argue that they deserve media attention will have to run a large number of local candidates.

Mixed Member Proportional said...

I agree that any party hoping to win a serious amount of seats will need to run a large number of local candidates. That is why I restricted my comment to smaller parties. Most smaller parties are not going to have enough concentrated support to elect a local MP.

Anonymous said...

In Scotland in the last election 8% of the population voted for Parties that could not make the “threshold” for a list seat. In the last Ontario election, 4% of the vote went to Parties who did not elect a member. So does this mean that less people have their political choices represented under MMP than under the current First Past the Post system?

Wilf Day said...

In New Zealand the Greens have little hope of winning a local seat, yet they run everywhere. Why?

Rod Donald said it in their first MMP parliament: "I firmly believe that voters deserve the choice of someone from the party they voted for to look after their interests. One benefit of our new electoral system is that this choice is being delivered in a formal, and upfront way. In other words, while I am not a constituency MP I still handle a wide range of cases covering problems with government agencies such as ACC, Income Support, Inland Revenue, Housing New Zealand, Children and Young Persons Service, the hospital system, the Employment Service and many more."