Correction on BC’s MMP proposal

I realized only today that I had misread the proposal for the Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) system in the British Columbia Attorney General’s report on the options. [Or maybe not, after all: See Wilf’s comment.]

I had thought the compensation would play out only in regions, as is the case in Scotland. I based this on the phrase in the report that says, “the List PR seats are allocated on a regional basis rather than a province-wide basis.” However, somehow I missed the clear statement in the preceding paragraph of the report, where it says, “The overall share of seats each party holds in the Legislative Assembly is determined by the party’s share of the province-wide vote it receives.”

In other words, the regions would affect only which specific candidates are seated from the compensatory (“top-up”) lists, and thus the regional balance of each party’s caucus. They would not affect the number of such seats a party wins overall.

The provision also makes workable the possible open list, which is given as an option to be worked out post-referendum, but which the Premier has said he will ensure is chosen rather than a closed list. If the lists were province-wide, open lists would make for more cumbersome ballots and arguably excess choice (as well as failing to ensure regional balance in the assembly).

The details of how one balances province-wide proportionality with open regional lists are complex. It is the system in Bavaria, however, so it is not unproven.

I have corrected my two previous entries on this accordingly:

1. BC electoral reform options for referendum

2. What can we expect from electoral reform in BC?


8 thoughts on “Correction on BC’s MMP proposal

    • I can’t recall seeing any mention. I assume they would be uncompensated, given that otherwise might be seen as breaking the pledge that the regional balance of representation would not be altered.

    • The AG’s report states one of the Post-Referendum MMP Decisions for Legislature is:
      “ Whether to permit “overhang” seats – that is, have a fixed number of total seats in the Legislative Assembly – potential added seats to compensate if a party wins a greater share of the FPTP seats than its overall vote share would entitle it to.”

  1. Your correction is mistaken. The confusion has been created by some oversimplified language on the Elections BC site. The governing document is the Attorney-General’s Report approved by cabinet.

    It says “List PR seats are to be allocated within defined regions, not on a province-wide basis.” And it says “it meets the principle of local/regional representation by requiring at least 60% of the total seats to be from single-member electoral districts (albeit larger ones than currently), and by requiring that the List PR seats are allocated on a regional basis rather than a province-wide basis.” While it is possible in theory to create an algorithm which starts by calculating top-up MLAs provincially, then allocates them to regions, while somehow ensuring that each region keeps its present number of MLAs, the Report’s list of “Post-Referendum MMP Decisions” do not include whether the proportionality should be calculated by region or province-wide, or how to calculate it province-wide with regional allocation.

    The BC NDP website’s campaign site is in no doubt: “Regional representative would be based on the party’s share of the vote in each region.”

    This was politically necessary. No one in Northern BC wants their regional MLAs to be determined by votes cast in the Lower Mainland (Vancouver, Abbotsford, etc.)

    • My quotes in the post (my “correction”) come from “How We Vote… Report and Recommendations of the Attorney General”. Are you referring to a different report? Or just that this report is internally inconsistent (which was the source of my initial “mistake”)?

      They should really have had their act together, as these are important provisions; no wonder some voters may feel they do not know what they are voting on!

    • Wilf, regarding your observation that “No one in Northern BC wants their regional MLAs to be determined by votes cast in the Lower Mainland”: Might this be why DMP is polling so poorly, especially there? It seems to be the one option that would unequivocally result in MLAs (i.e., the second one elected in a “dual-member” riding) to be allocated based on votes cast in the entire province, and hence most affected by the urban areas.

  2. Pingback: What could we expect from electoral reform in BC? | Fruits and Votes

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