Ontario 2018: Dramatic polling shift and an anomaly watch

With just over a week to go till the provincial assembly election of 7 June, polls in Ontario have shifted quite dramatically.

Here is what it looked like, according to the CBC Poll Tracker, on 18 May:

The Progressive Conservatives (PC) were well ahead in votes, and strongly favored to win a manufactured majority of seats with 41% of the vote. It’s good to be a 40-percent party under FPTP, especially when you are in a highly non-Duvergerian party system with two other large parties splitting most of the remaining three fifths of the vote. The New Democrats (NDP) were far behind, at not quite 30%, and the incumbent Liberals not even polling a quarter of the votes.

Ten days later, here is how things have shifted:

Well, it is a little more “Duvergerian” in that it looks like a close race between two parties, the PCs and the NDP. But not anything like your supposed lawlike “two-party system”, with a third party at over 20% and the fourth just below 5%.

As to what has has led to this shift, and the possible echoes of the 1990 election (which resulted in the only NDP government in the province’s history, to date), see Eric Grenier’s explanation at CBC.

This being a FPTP system, even with a polling lead as of now that is almost two percentage points, it is not as simple as the party with the most votes being assured of governing (whether with a majority, minority, or as head of a coalition). Note how in today’s projection the NDP is favored to win fewer seats than the PCs and the latter party is still quite likely to win a majority of seats.

Thus I hereby declare Ontario 2018 to be on anomaly watch.

 

Ontario 2014 election result

The Liberals wound up winning a majority in the Ontario provincial election. The party won 59 seats (of 107) on 38.6% of the vote. In second was the Progressive Conservative (PC), 27 seats on 31.3%. The New Democrats (NDP) won 21 seats–the same number they had at dissolution–on 23.8%.

I’d say the Liberals seriously outsmarted the NDP by putting up a fairly progressive budget but getting the NDP to trigger an election rather than back the budget.

Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak has resigned. I wonder if NDP leader Andrea Howarth can hold on. There was a good deal of dissension publicized during the campaign over the leadership’s strategy.

The Green Party again did not win a seat, despite its best electoral showing so far, 4.8% of the vote.

Quick Ontario update

The general election in Ontario is about three weeks away. The current polling aggregate and seat estimate at ThreeHundredEight are interesting.

From ThreeHundredEight.com, May 21, 2014

(The image seems not to be displayed; maybe the link to the image capture will work if you click on it.)

The current projection suggests the distinct possibility of a plurality reversal. Conservatives are projected to have a small lead in votes over the Liberals (35.8% to 34.3%), but Liberals are ahead in the seat projection, 44-41. NDP is on 22 seats, from 23.4% of the (estimated) vote.

Current party standings are Lib 48, PC 37, NDP 21, with the NDP having gained a net four since the 2011 election via by-election wins.

Ontario election called

Ontario will hold a provincial general election on 12 June. The election was called after the NDP declared it was unwilling to back the minority Liberal government’s budget, as it had done with the previous budgets since the 2011 election.

All parties have been gearing up for this showdown for a while. CBC has a preview. As of today, the ThreeHundredEight vote and seat projection has a narrow lead for the Progressive Conservatives in the vote, but a tie in seats for the PCs and Liberals, with 43 each and 21 for the NDP. Current party standings are Lib 48, PC 37, NDP 21, with the NDP having gained a net four since the 2011 election via by-election wins.

Ontario Greens

Two questions on the Ontario Green Party that I hope someone can answer.

1. What happened to their campaign this time? In 2007, they came pretty close to winning one riding (district). ((I can’t recall which one. So I guess that’s yet another question that I hope someone can answer!)) Apparently they have almost no chance this time, despite this being the year when the national Green Party got its first seat (in British Columbia).

2. Is the Green Party of Ontario really to the right of the Liberal Party (on the socio-economic dimension), as well as more socially conservative? That is what the CBC’s Ontario Votes-Vote Compass says.

Canadian provincial elections this week

Update: In a comment (#7), I compare the result to the seat-vote equation estimate.
____________

Three Canadian provinces have elections this week. Voting has already been completed in Prince Edward Island (PEI) and Manitoba, and is taking place today in Ontario, the largest province. Each elections shows–or is likely to show–the vagaries of FPTP.

(Newfoundland & Labrador votes next week, 11 October)

First, the election in PEI produced a lopsided majority–again. The incumbent Liberal party returned to office with 22 of the 27 seats, on a slightly reduced vote percentage (51.4% compared to 52.9% in 2007). This was a loss of one seat, with the Conservatives winning 5 (+1). For the second straight election, the Greens supplanted the NDP as the (distant) third party, with 4.3% (up from 3%).

The province has a history of lopsided results (as I have shown in graphs); the 2003 Liberal victory marked an alternation from a Conservative government, which itself had 23 seats. In the election before that, the Conservatives had 26 of the 27 seats. In 1996, the last time no party won a majority of the vote, the Conservatives, with 47.4% could manage “only” 18 seats (a 2/3 majority).

The seat-vote equation, which estimates seats under FPTP systems, based on jurisdiction-wide votes for the top three parties, the size of the assembly, and the number of voters, says that a party with around 51% of the votes, where the second party has around 40%, “should” be expected to win around 65% of the seats, rather than the 85% it won in this election. ((Four seats in PEI were decided by fewer than 100 votes, and some of these might swing on recounts. Each major party has won two of these seats, based on current results.))

One key reason why PEI has such lopsided results is that its assembly is about half the size that the cube root rule says it “should be,” for its electorate. With around 80,000 voters turning out in recent elections, an assembly of 55 seats would be more appropriate than 27. The undersized assembly is why the seat-vote equation sees as “normal” for FPTP even a a party with just over 50% of the votes potentially getting almost two thirds of the seats. The geographic distribution of the vote in PEI, and its tendency towards big island-wide vote swings, only exacerbate an inherent tendency for big seat bonuses for the largest party.

Of course, the Island could also get less distorted results with even a modestly proportional mixed-member system, such as the one resoundingly turned down in a referendum in 2005.

In Manitoba‘s election, the incumbent NDP was returned to office with 37 of the 57 seats (64.9%) on just 46% of the votes. The NDP had won 36 seats in 2007 on 48% of the votes. So the party’s votes declined, but it seats increased. The second-place Conservatives substantially increased their votes, from 37.9% to 43.7%, yet saw their seats remain steady on 19. Such are the vagaries of FPTP. Liberals saw their votes fall from 12.4% to 7.5%, and dropped from 2 seats to 1.

The seat-vote equation would expect such a close race between the top two parties to have resulted in a seat split of about 30-27, instead of the actual 37-19. ((Given the greater gap in votes between the top two, we would expect the 2007 election to have split the seats 37-20; in other words that election turned out almost exactly as expected.))

Manitoba has no record of particularly odd results, although in both 1990 and 1995 the second largest party won many more seats than it “should have” won. This is a pattern that can result in a plurality reversal (higher seat total for the second largest party in votes), if the election is close enough. In both of those elections, the Conservatives won narrow seat majorities on less than 43% of the votes, while the second-place NDP in 1995 had 40% of the seats despite only 33% of the votes. ((In 1990, it had only 28.8% of the votes, yet 35% of the seats.)) Evidently, in several recent elections the NDP’s geographic distribution of its votes has been such that it can translate them into many more seats than expected, whether it is the largest or runner-up party. I point this out simply because this week’s election was quite close in votes (46%-44%) yet produced an unexpectedly large seat bonus for the NDP. A plurality reversal may have been barely more than a couple of percentage points of the provincial vote from happening.

In today’s Ontario election, we see real three-party competition, with the third largest party, the NDP, polling at around a quarter of the votes. The incumbent Liberal party won 71 seats in the 2007 election, or 66.4% on just 42.2% of the vote. For most of this year, it was expected to lose, possibly by a wide margin, to the Conservatives. Yet as the official campaign got underway, the Liberals and NDP made gains in polls. For a while the Liberals and Conservatives looked headed for a near tie in seats, with neither winning a majority, and a potential plurality reversal. Now the Liberals could retain a majority of seats, depending on how some key ridings (districts) turn out.

The ThreeHundredEight final projection sees the Liberals winning 58 seats (54.2%) on 36.6% of the vote (to 33.3% for Conservatives). No party in Ontario ((at least since 1967, which is the first year in my data.)) has won a majority of seats on less than 40% of the votes since the NDP won 74 of a then 130-seat parliament on 37.6% of the vote in 1990–the only time the NDP has been the governing party. For the record, the seat-vote equation agrees that this projected vote split would produce a majority (about 56 seats); what it does not expect is the mere 29 seats the Liberals are expected to win, according to the ThreeHundredEight projection. The seat-vote equation expects such a close second place to be good for 44 or 45 seats, which would leave only 7 for the NDP. That the NDP could be projected to win 20 seats by ThreeHundredEight–which takes into account district-level information unlike the seat-vote equation ((As I often point out, the seat-vote equation is not a projection tool. It is only meant to see how close an actual result deviates from what a “typical” FPTP election would produce, for a given jurisdiction-wide votes breakdown, and number of voters and seats)) –only shows how much the existing FPTP electoral system favors the NDP. Their huge manufactured majority in 1990 shows this pro-NDP bias is not new. ((Of course, potentially winning in this election nearly three times the number of seats as could be expected in a “normal” FPTP system offers minimal benefit when some other party has won a manufactured majority. Clearly the NDP today–although not back in 1990!–would benefit from a proportional system that would promote minority or coalition governments in which such a strong (in votes) third party could have real policy influence.))

Ontario’s three-party competition suggests it would be well served by a proportional system, such as the mixed-member system proposed by a citizens assembly, but turned down in a referendum the same day as the provincial parliamentary election in 2007.

Finally, both Manitoba and Ontario, like PEI, have undersized assemblies. For their population sizes, the cube root rule expects around 100 seats in Manitoba (instead of 57) and 200 in Ontario (instead of 107). Small assembly sizes only exacerbate the chances of anomalous results, although if one wanted seats distributions more reflective of votes distributions, a proportional electoral system would do the trick without needing to increase assembly size.

_______
For more on the seat-vote equation and estimating the seats in first-past-the-post systems, see:

Matthew S. Shugart, “Inherent and Contingent Factors in Reform Initiation in Plurality Systems,” in To Keep or Change First Past the Post, ed. By André Blais. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Past election data and estimates of seats come from the data set originally prepared in conjunction with the chapter, and updated since.

Error on year of NDP majority in original entry corrected.

Notes:

Ontario campaign

The campaign for 6 October provincial parliamentary elections in Ontario is underway.

According to the ThreeHundredEight projection as of today, the province is headed towards a no-majority situation. Conservatives and the NDP could each make big gains.

The current government is Liberal, (re-)elected in 2007 with a large seat majority. The Liberals would fall to second place, behind the Conservatives, according to current polling.

The province has some history of rather odd votes-seats relationships, which is why there was a review of the electoral system initiated following the 2003 election that brought the Liberals to power. A Citizens Assembly proposed MMP, but the proposed reform went down to resounding defeat in a referendum concurrent with the October, 2007, provincial election. So Ontario has remained stuck with an ill-fitting FPTP, at least for now.

Will the 2011 election offer supporters of MMP their “We told you so” moment?

Ontario’s election and the failure of the MMP proposal

As has been discussed extensively already in the previous thread (the comments to which have been very interesting), the voters of Ontario rejected a proposal to change their provincial electoral system to MMP. It was not even a close call; a change to MMP would have required the support of 60% of voters (and majorities in 60% of the districts). It received the support of only 36.6%.

The support MMP achieved was somewhat less than what the incumbent Liberal party obtained in the parliamentary elections, which was 42%. Yet that 42% has translated into 71 of 107 seats, or more than 66% (one seat less than a two-thirds majority). This represents a four percentage-points decline in popular support for the Liberals. In 2003 the party also won 71 seats, though out of a total then of 103.

The Conservative party also lost votes, going from 34.6% in 2003 to 31.7% now. It will have 26 of the 107 seats (compared to 25 of 103 in 2003). Its leader, John Tory, was defeated in his own district.

The big vote winners in this election were the New Democrats and Greens, especially the latter. The Green party won 8% in this election, about double what it had before. And, while the NDP would be the closest party to the Greens on many programmatic questions, the party’s vote surge did not come at the NDP’s expense, as the NDP votes went from 14.7% to 16.8%. The NDP also gained seats (from 7 to 10).

The Greens, of course, won no seats. They came closest in the district of Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound, where their candidate won 35% of the vote, but was defeated easily by a Conservative with 46%. (Do any of my readers know anything about this district? I am intrigued by the sort of place where a Green could get more than a third of the vote! Update: We now have such information in the comments!)

As far as the trusty seat-vote equation is concerned, this is a somewhat unremarkable result. Supporters of MMP will point to the huge manufactured majority, or to the Greens vote gain with no seats, and say, see, we told you so! But it is ho hum. Given this number of voters in the province, this number of seats in the legislature, and these vote totals for the various parties, we would expect a party with 42% of the votes to have won around 69 seats. So it won 71. Yawn. We would expect the Conservatives to have won around 34. So, they were a bit under-represented, relative to expectations, but 8 seats not won out of 107 is hardly enough to prevent the main opposition from functioning.

The NDP is, of course, considerably over-represented. Oh sure, it got only 9.3% of the seats on nearly 17% of the vote. But a third party with just over half the votes of the second party “should” win no more than 4 seats. Luckily for the NDP, it is adapted to FPTP in Ontario. It is sufficiently concentrated to win several seats. In fact, the 7% of seats it won in 2003 was its worst showing in many years. It won as many as 14% of the seats as recently as 1995, ((I am using seat percentages here, rather than actual numbers, because the size of Ontario’s parliament has been something of a moving target in recent years.)) and actually had a majority in 1990, on a mere 37.6% of the votes–talk about being adapted to FPTP! It is the Greens, on the other hand, who are the maladapted party, with a voter base far too dispersed to win any seats. ((Ontario has a very small parliament, for its population size. By the cube-root law, it “should have” around 200, or double the current size. But even such a big increase would have made little difference in the expected seat balance in this election. Of course, in the real world, it might have made one Green seat possible and might have put the Conservatives closer to their expected share. I would guess that a doubling of the size of the parliament would be an even tougher sell than MMP–which was to include a 20% increase in the size of parliament (or to about where it was as recently as 1995). ))

Ontario was never a case I considered ripe for electoral reform of the PR variety. In fact, in my paper on the topic of reform in FPTP systems (forthcoming in an Oxford volume edited by André Blais), I state that Ontario is a surprising case of an electoral reform process. Unlike British Columbia (where an STV proposal won 58% in 2005, though it likewise needed 60%) and New Zealand (where voters adopted MMP in a 1993 referendum)–or even PEI ((in P.E.I., a proposal for MMP was defeated in a referendum. Click the link on the province name for discussion.)) and New Brunswick ((In New Brunswick, a planned referendum on a proposal for MMP has been called off. Click the link on the province name for discussion.)) –Ontario had no record of significant anomalies to put electoral reform on the policy agenda in the first place. There is none of the “inherently” bad performance that we can expect from FPTP systems, whereby they may seriously under-represent the party that gets the second most votes such that the opposition is decimated, or over-represent it such that it, rather than the leading vote-winner, gets to form the government.

The only “contingent” factor, among those I identify in my academic work on reform in FPTP systems, that was present in Ontario was the coming to power of a party that had long been out of power. Before 2003, the Liberals had spent decades out of power, aside from 1985-90. In 1985 they formed a minority government despite having the second highest seat total, which in turn they had despite having the most votes (in the only somewhat anomalous election in the province). In 1987 they won a very large majority, only to be voted out after one full term. So, it is not surprising that such a party might come to power (as it did in 2003) with a program of “Democratic Renewal” and that it might even want to open up the question of whether to change an electoral system that, if not systematically biased, had not let the party exercise even a share of power (aside from 1985-90) despite its being a party that regularly won 30% or more of the vote.

In other words, the systemic factors predicting a reform process in Ontario were always weak. But there was some partisan-interest factor at work for the Liberals. The problems with partisan-interest factors, of course, are that they (1) may make it harder to convince voters who favor other parties to think reform is also good for them, and (2) the very interest-based factors may shift if the party starts doing better. This is clearly a good time to be a Liberal in Ontario. It is an even better time to be a Liberal under FPTP. And, apparently it is a good time to be an Ontarian: In the absence of systemic factors (whether the electoral system itself, or perceived policy failures and government mandate violations, as during New Zealand’s reform process), there was no general ill feeling towards politics-as-usual to impel voters to vote for reform simply because there is “something wrong.”

The result for the MMP referendum was by no means foreordained. The province has a multiparty system, for which some form of PR would make a lot of sense. Its Citizens Assembly was a model of civic participation, and its 103 members crafted a really sound proposal. But they faced an uphill battle. The result is not a surprise. However, the proposal is out there, and isn’t going to be totally forgotten. If the Greens’ success was not a blip, or if the Liberals are reelected again in 2011 despite losing the party vote (which would be very much within the realm of the possible), or the Conservatives come to power and are perceived to have done so only because of a divided center-left, the supporters of MMP will have their “we told you so!” moment. Maybe somehow the proposal, or something similar, would be dusted off and be put to another vote.

I do not think electoral reform is dead in Ontario. But it is certainly dormant.

Ontario election and referendum on MMP

MMP was defeated resoundingly, getting less than 37%.

And, oh, by the way, the Liberals won nearly two thirds of the seats on only 42% of the vote.

More later. Meanwhile, this thread continues to grow. Thanks for the comments. (I have weighed in there a few times, too.)

On 10 October, voters in Ontario will vote in a general provincial election. They will also vote in a very important referendum on whether to change the electoral system for future provincial parliamentary elections from the current FPTP to MMP.

The proposed MMP–mixed-member proportional–electoral system was recommended by a Citizens Assembly, made up of ordinary citizens selected (mostly) at random from the voter rolls (sort of like a grand jury). The assembly was given the task, under law, of deliberating about how elections actually work in Ontario and whether there might be a superior model. If it recommended an alternative, it was legally guaranteed that its proposal would be put up against the current system in a provincewide referendum. That time is now, and Ontario voters can decide whether to keep or change FPTP. Or, rather, a super-majority of Ontario voters can decide to change, as the proposal must obtain 60% provincewide, and majorities in at least 60% of the 107 provincial ridings (electoral districts).

Under the proposal, voters would have two votes–one for a candidate in their local riding (as now), and a second vote for a party list. There would be 90 (instead of the current 107) districts in which a single legislator would continue to be elected by plurality of votes cast. There would be 39 compensatory seats, from closed party lists, allocated to “top up” the seats of any party that had won more than 3% of the provincial party vote, but whose number of districts won was a proportional share (of the full 129 seats) that was less than its party vote share.

There is video debate on CBC that you can watch (about 6.5 minutes long), and CBC also has a list of some of the key arguments for and against.

Meanwhile, in the provincial election, it will be business as usual for FPTP. One party–and it will be the incumbent Liberal party, unless there is a very big surprise–will get “reelected” with around 42% or so of the vote, and is projected to win more than three fifths of the seats. The Conservatives–led by, and I kid you not, John Tory–will win around a third of the votes, but probably under 30% of the seats. The New Democratic Party (NDP) may win around 17% of the votes, but only around 11 seats (10%). The Greens may win five or six percent–and one poll says 11%–of the vote, but almost certainly no seats.

Obviously, Ontario has a multiparty system, and would be well served by a more proportional electoral system, which would raise the prospect of Liberals cooperating with one or more parties. If MMP were being used in this election, perhaps the Liberals would cooperate, after the election, in forming a government and passing policy with the NDP. Or they might strike a deal with the Greens, who would win anywhere from 7 to 14 seats, depending on their vote total, rather than zero. Under the current system, the Liberals will rule alone in spite of their having only 43% (or so) of the vote. Nonetheless, the referendum’s chance are considered a long shot.

The MMP proposal may not even make it over 50%. To get to 60% is hard. After all, one former FPTP jurisdiction, New Zealand, has MMP today because a vote of more than half the voters was sufficient in its 1993 referendum. The MMP proposal would have been considered defeated if 60% had been required; the change was endorsed by “only” 54% of the voters. In British Columbia in 2005 a referendum on a different electoral reform, also proposed by a Citizens Assembly, obtained around 58%, where, as in Ontario, 60% was required. (In BC, a second referendum is scheduled on the proposal.) Meanwhile, most governments in New Zealand under FPTP, as well as in Ontario and BC have been single-party majorities based on well under half of the vote–and sometimes on less than 40%.

It is perhaps surprising that a jurisdiction such as Ontario in which the ruling party usually is endorsed by well under half the voters, and where there are important parties other than the top two, would not be “ripe” for some form of proportional representation, such as MMP. However, Ontario is not exactly the most likely case for an electoral reform process to have emerged in the first place. It has had none of the serious anomalies–such as a party with the second most votes winning a majority of seats–as New Zealand had for two elections in a row (1978 and 1981), or as British Columbia had (1996).

With its multiparty politics, it has had some erratic results under FPTP, but nothing out of the ordinary. The graph below shows the patterns over recent decades.

Ontario.jpg

This graph–as with others I have shown here in the block on the “seat-vote equation”–shows, in the lower segment, the deviation of the second largest party (in seats) from what it would be expected to have won, for the given votes for the parties and the size of the assembly and the number of total votes cast. On that lower (dark green) trend line, we see the identity of the second largest party. The trend line in the upper part of the graph shows how close elections have been.

The one really noteworthy–and perhaps “anomalous” election–was over twenty years ago. In 1985, the party with the most votes was the Liberals, with 37.9%, but the Conservatives, who had 37.0%, won the most seats. The Conservatives did not, however, win a majority. They won 52 of 125 seats, and the Liberals were actually able to form a minority government, with the support in parliament of the third party, the New Democrats. Then, in 1987, the Liberals called an early election and won a very large majority: 95 of 130 seats, on 47.3% of the vote.

As can be seen by the trend line in the lower portion of the graph, the electoral system has been somewhat biased against the second largest party–except in 1987, when that party was the NDP. In most elections before 2003, the second largest party was the Liberals, and they have won fewer seats than the second party would have been expected to have won (given the vote shares of the parties, the number of seats at stake, and the number of votes cast).

However, the bias has not been great, and the anomaly (if it was one) of 1985 was a long time ago. It is somewhat surprising that the Liberals actually promised prior to the 2003 election to convene a Citizens Assembly, and that they then went ahead with it. Now we are at the decision point. Will Ontario voters agree that MMP would be an improvement, or do they like the status quo electoral system in which they will most likely reelect their current government on 43% of the vote?


Epilogue


The Globe and Mail has a rather odd editorial.
It almost seems to think the electoral reform is a good idea, but says to vote against it, partly because it claims the idea has been given short shrift in the general-election campaign. It suggests, rather strangely, that MMM would be better. And it wishes the threshold were at 5% instead of 3%.

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.

MMP proposal for Ontario

Via Wilf Day, propagating the earlier planting on the Citizens Assembly in Ontario:

“We have a consensus.” By a secret ballot vote of 86 to 16, the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly prefers MMP to FPTP.

And on the overhang front, there will be no overhang hangovers in the referendum campiagn. They decided on staff advice that, even allowing for a five percent shift towards split ballots, only in the most exceptional cases would more than three overhangs arise in Ontario. Not worth arguing about. Gone.

Why five percent? Well, Massicotte’s survey of Germany, New Zealand, Scotland and Wales found “conflicting allegiances, even if held by many voters, tend to cancel each other out. So the net spread between the two standings of one party is usually not very great. Seldom does it exceed 4 percentage points.”

Lighten up, green up!

The center-right Australian Liberal Party government of John Howard has announced a plan to phase out standard lightbulbs in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs by 2009. From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the expensive bulbs will pay for themselves within a year by reducing household electricity bills by up to 66 per cent and eventually cutting Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions by four million tonnes a year. […]

Mr Turnbull said that during the Kyoto Protocol target period between 2008 and 2012, the light bulb phase-out would cut 800,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in Australia each year.

Meanwhile, the government of Ontario is considering making the province the first in Canada to enact a similar measure. From the Toronto Star:

No one in Ontario should underestimate the importance of replacing standard bulbs with more energy-efficient ones, [provincial Environment Minister Laurel] Broten added. By Premier Dalton McGuinty’s estimate, replacing every old-fashioned bulb with an energy-efficient one would allow the province to shut down one coal-fired power plant.

The Ontario government is headed by the Liberal party (which is a good deal more center-left than Australia’s conservative party of the same name), but it is being urged to adopt this measure not only by environmental organizations, but also by its main opposition, the Conservative Party.

Oh, if only we could have “conservatives” in this country like those in Australia and Canada!

Ontario Citizens Assembly consensus on MMP

Excerpted from Wilfred Day’s report in a previous thread:

An early consensus. The Citizens Assembly voted on Sunday on their first preferred alternative system. They plan to design two, and then choose one.

Mixed Member Proportional – 78
STV – 8
Parallel – 6
List PR – 3
Alternative Vote (IRV) – 2
Two Round System – 0

That’s a lot stronger consensus than most expected.

On Saturday they settled their three key objectives for system design, after breaking out into five group sessions. Chair George Thomson quipped “you’re making my life easy” when all five groups chose the same three:

“The number of seats a party wins should closely reflect its vote share;”

“Each MPP should represent a geographic area of the province;” and

“Voters should be able to indicate their preferred party and candidate” separately, that is, have two votes, one for the party, one for the local candidate.

[…]

Next step: preliminary design of the first alternative (MMP) on the weekend of March 3 and 4. Apparently that’s two-vote regional MMP.

[All of the above is Wilf’s post, not mine–MSS]

Ontario electoral-reform referendum likely in October 2007

The Ontario provincial government will introduce legislation to enable a referendum next October on whatever new electoral system the Citizens Assembly might recommend. The referendum would be concurrent with the next provincial parliamentary election. Currently, Ontario has no law on referendums.


Thanks to L-girl for the tip.

Previous posts on the Ontario Citizens Assembly: