Friday, September 28, 2007

Does MMP Mean Appointed MPPs and Fringe Parties?

On the TVO debate last night, and in one or two of my articles, it has been said that fringe parties will be elected under the mixed member proportional (MMP) system and that the 'list candidates' of this system will be appointed by the political parties. Both those comments have been strongly criticized by those in favour of MMP. I stand by those comments but I want to use this article to try to do a neutral assessment of them.

Will fringe parties get elected?
Under the MMP system a party that can gather 3% of the votes will receive 3% of the MPPs. The existing and MMP systems have fully demonstrated that there will be parties that receive more than 3% as well as less than. According to Wiktionary, the definition of fringe is as follows: Outside the mainstream. Based on that information, you can decide whether it is likely that a party will receive just over 3% of the vote and whether it is a fringe party.

Will MMP lead to Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) being appointed by political parties?
Under the current system all MPPs in Ontario are elected in their ridings during general or by-elections. Under MMP those parties that receive fewer seats than their percentage of the vote will receive additional seats from 'list candidates' until the party's number of MPPs approximately equals their percentage of the vote. That is, additional MPPs for these parties will be selected based upon a list submitted by the respective parties. For each party the selection will start at the top of the list and work its way down, with the order of the list also to be determined by the political party. Parties are required to make public how they selected the candidates on their list and who these candidates are. There are any number of options on how the parties may select their candidates but the more likely ones, and in fact it could also be a combination of some or all of these, would include: selection by the Party Executive, selection by delegates to a party convention(s), selection by the party's political leader, etc. Based on that information, you can decide whether these list candidates are appointed by political parties or elected by the voters.


Anonymous said...

This is almost certainly not the right statistical method to apply but if you assume a normal distribution of political views then 'fringe', numerically (+/- 2 standard deviations), is about 4.5% - not too far from the 3% threshold.

CT said...

Where on Earth do you get the idea that it's "more than likely" parties will select their lists by non-democratic means (chosen by the executive or leader)? This hasn't happened in any countries that use MMP (the parties all elect their nominated candidates by member-vote), and both the Green party and the PC party (and perhaps others I've missed) have pledged not to use these methods if MMP passes in Ontario.

All evidence suggests that parties will nominate their lists in transparent, democratic ways. If not, they'll be widely criticized by the other parties which do, and they'll be held accountable by voters for their actions (unlike our current system, where leaders have the ability to appoint any candidates they want and parties are not required to disclose how their candidates are selected in any comprehensive way).

Anonymous said...

I could be totally wrong, since these aren't my arguments we're debating, but I don't think the problem people have is necessarily with how members get on the list per se, it's how they get their seat.

First, even if it's a democratic nomination to the list, it's still the party who does the nominating. Yes, it's the same as now, but it removes the added step of putting the *individual* in front of the public. In that sense, it's still the party determining who gets seats. [of course the public gets to vote on the lists to determine WHICH party gets to determine who gets the seats]

Imagine a scenario where party 1 is running "mediocre person A", "so-so person B", and "average guy C" while party 2 is running "super candidate X", "Scumbag Y" and "Great guy Z". It's easy to imagine that Scumbag Y gets an 'indirect vote' riding the coattails of other candidates when under a different system he wouldn't stand a chance.

The most cynical among us could probably see this taken to an extreme where star candidates are recruited to prop up an otherwise uninspiring (or relatively unknown) slate of candidates. "Vote for the Green Party, we have David Suzuki as our candidate!", "Oh yeah, well with the Conservatives you'll have Don Cherry in office!"

Of course these are extreme hypotheticals to illustrate a point.

Mixed Member Proportional said...

CT, parties currently use non-democratic means as one of their options for the local candidates. So to state that as one of the likely options, including the option of electing them at a convention, is rational and fair. To state that this won't happen is neither rational nor fair.

Wilf Day said...

In your list of "the more likely" nomination methods, you included selection by delegates to a party convention(s), but omitted the every-member vote system used by, for example, the Scottish Liberal Democrats and other Scottish parties, the New Zealand Greens, etc.

In Canada, the convention that chose Jack Layton leader showed how the NDP was able to combine a media-friendly convention with an on-line every-member-vote process. The NDP has already decided that it would nominate by regions, such as northern Ontario. It is obviously among the more likely options that Northern New Democrats would use an every-member-vote process featuring a media-friednly regional convention, as could other regions.

Anonymous said...

Remove the word 'member' and I'm sold. I think that's what sticks in the craw of the no-MMP side - it's still the party determining the list, even if it's done "democratically".

Anonymous said...

What does non-democratic mean?

Anonymous said...

And the Liberal Party would always use a democratic means of choosing their list candidates. Oh way, this is the same party that scrapped their democratic process to select their leader - Iggiot. Ya, "just trust the parties" is a great motto for political reform. No wonder MMP lost!

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