Ontario: MMP “baffling”?; Dual candidacy “not fair”?

From the National Post:

In a church basement, a group of voters here for a meeting to improve their speaking skills agree on one thing: the proposed mixed-member proportional electoral system is baffling.

I would certainly take issue with that. And with the claim by one audience member that the list MPs are “not representing anyone.”

Predictably, some in the audience object to dual candidacy. As one put it:

That doesn’t seem terribly fair… It seems you [should] get one or the other. You don’t default to the second because you lost in the first.

As I have noted before, it really is necessary to have dual candidacy for MMP to work well. In fact, members who run in a district but win due to the list are representing voters more than those in a (hypothetical) MMP system who did not run in a district yet win via the list. But I recognize that it is a hard sell, because the quaint old notions of clear winners and losers upon which FPTP–and all its attendant disproportionality and wasting of votes–is based is so entrenched.

I might note that a thread on dual candidacy is, I believe, the most commented-on here in the two years of F&V.

Ontario’s referendum on MMP, as proposed by a Citizens Assembly, is on 10 October (as is a provincial general election).

Meanwhile, the Edmonton Sun has a really crackpot editorial about how Ontario “could muck up” all of Canada by opening the door to “extremists” like “burka wearing Muslims, evangelical Christians and the ultra-orthodox Jews.” It also claims, in the face of clear evidence, that MMP and party lists would not result in more women being elected.

0 thoughts on “Ontario: MMP “baffling”?; Dual candidacy “not fair”?

  1. Yes, Gary, I was on your site yesterday and was contemplating “applying,” but it seemed all the members were Canadian.

    On the other hand, one of my students found a site on the web that classified blogs on their likelihood of being British, based on a Bayesian estimation of content and links in the blog. It said F&V was almost certainly a UK blog.

    By that same technique, F&V clearly is Canadian!

    (Actually, the Virtual Orchard grows in no sovereign soil. It grows in universal soil!)

  2. The Orchardist’s points about dual candidacy are worthwhile here. But it’s also relevant to point out that the opposition in Ontario has spilled far more ink on a more basic objection to (and misunderstanding of) MMP. This is the claim that list members are not elected by the voters at all, but are chosen by party leaders. I suspect that, had the Citizens’ Assembly not allowed dual candidacy, the cacophony about this would be just as loud. Opponents seem to have taken their cue from the decision to have closed lists, much more than the decision to allow dual candidacy.

    Question: is MMP feasible with open lists? Has anybody tried it?

  3. That’s something I fight all the time–the idea that only those elected in nominal races (e.g. by FPTP) are “directly” elected. I am not sure that even open lists solve the problem for people who have the notion that a candidate has to enter parliament on his or her own votes alone. After all, in an open list system there will always be some candidates elected with fewer votes than some losers (on other lists).

    I don’t have any evidence for this assertion. It is just a hunch that where the FPTP culture is entrenched, lists, per se, are always going to face some “legitimacy” problems. (Excuse me for using a word I don’t much like or know how to define!)

    On the question of MMP and open lists, check the post and comments at the link above on the words “dual candidacy.” There was some discussion there on this point.

  4. Even closed lists don’t have to be chosen by party leaders. It’s perfectly feasible to have laws that limit how lists are constructed by parties. You could mandate a particular selection system, or just insist that it be decided by some sort of vote of all party members in the relevant region.

    When someone calls MMP “complicated” or “baffling”, the most effective response is to mention that Germans, NZers, Swedes, etc. all get along fine, and ask them if they’re calling Canadians dumber than those folks. Bit of a dirty trick maybe, but they brought it up.

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