Wednesday, August 15, 2007

No-MMP versus MMP what side should i choose?

Guess what....

Yeah, I'm on the fence so to speak. I am undecided on the vote this fall. Plus, I don't feel like dusting off some poly sci books on comparitive electoral systems. But I could use some convincing...

I don't like either system, I don't like the floating MPP's, but I really hate how Northern Ontario ridings have half as many people as my urban riding, when they generate 10x's less tax dollars.

Does the list system reward insiders?

Can someone please convince me to support their side? I don't want talking points, I want answers...

Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss....


James Bowie said...

Hey dude. I'm against MMP because I think it gives new powers to political parties. Allow me to explain a bit.

Political parties are open. They are neither allowed to choose their members nor their candidates. Any person 14 years of age or older can join a political party and stand for a nomination. In this way, the party's leadership is limited, as it can only parachute a small number of candidates.

In caucus, and in leadership reviews, members of the party and of the legislature have the ability to help shape party policy and direction. They have this power because they are not beholden to the party's leader - with the possible exception of cabinet and critic posts.

Under the proposed MMP system, parties would have the new ability to strike a prefferential list of candidates who would sit based on popular votes. Unlike ordinary MPP's, whose nominations they can influence directly, list MPP's owe a debt of gratitude to the leader for being allowed on the list.

This changes the balance of power withing the party in favour of the leadership. In many ways, party leaders already are too powerful, in my view.

I have spoken with several MMP supporters who believe that the lists will democratize parties along demographic lines. This is a naive view. The proposed system puts no statutory controls over the lists; therefore, parties themselves will have complete discretion over the contents of that list. In short, it ammounts to more parachute candidates in an at-large constituency. Those members become the puppets of the leader, who can take them off the list at whim.

MMP supporters point to problems with FPTP. No doubt, our system of elections is medieval and imperfect. MMP, however, is even worse. It takes power away from local voters and associations; it gives that power to party leaders.

Please join the NO campaign.

Mark Greenan said...

"Political parties are open. They are [not] allowed to choose their ... candidates."

Like Michael Ignatieff, Martha Hall-Findlay and Jocelyn Coulon?

Remind me how hard fought their nomination campaigns were?

And since those against MMP like to portray recent political history under our current system as a slow and steady centralization of power in party leaders and their advisers AND then argue that MMP would further that trend - then why aren't party leaders coming out wholeheartedly for MMP?

After all, aren't they all about centralizing power?

Or is it that MMP doesn't really centralize power? Rather that it increases the power of the legislature vis-a-vis the executive.

S.K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.K. said...

People on the fence should and most likely will vote NO. Why? because No is just the status quo and we aren't in some kind of Democratic emergency or martial state, so if the option isn't great choose NO.

I honestly don't think this thing has a hope of passing. Most people will be unconvinced to vote for somethign untried, when really our democratic process works just fine.

We have already introduced a massive change to the westminster model by legislating elections every four years, which I think was a bad idea, but its done. We should wait for that dust to settle before jumping to more changes for change sake.

Jason Cherniak said...

MMP will not change the problem with how local MPPs are selected. Only a preferential ballot where there is no disadvantage to voting for your prefered candidate will do that. The real effect of MMP is to have less politicians accountable in ridings and more politicians selected according to lists. The end result will be less if no majority governments and much more power to small parties that are actually the LEAST popular. If you want to maintain accountability and avoid fringe power, you neeed to vote no in this referendum. If MMP fails, the push for electoral reform will not end.

Matt Guerin said...

The argument that MMP increases party power, now frequently argued by pro-FPTP supporters, is pure bogus.

First off, the central party controls all aspects of nominations in local ridings now. Not under MMP. Now. Nobody can even run for a party nomination in a riding unless party central approves their candidacy. Local members cannot decide who may run in their riding, they can only vote on the list of approved nominees for a nomination. Sometimes they're only given one choice. This is how the system works now.

Using James' argument, this would mean that every single MPP under FPTP is now beholden to the leadership and not their members or the public. We know this is currently the case.

James argues that current leadership have too much power. This is true for sure.

However, MMP would weaken the premier's grip on the legislature as MMP would ensure that party representation matches party support among voters. Pro-FPTP supporters refuse to admit that their system is actually quite undemocratic, distorting the wishes of voters, frequently translating 40% of the vote into 60% of the seats for one party. Thus under FPTP, backroom party advisers - the kind James claims he abhors - get all the power in the world. A majority caucus who got their nominations courtesy of party central and a false majority with which they can do whatever they want for four or five years.

Under FPTP, our political system has evolved to give leaders' offices and their advisers ultimate power over government. Under MMP, these advisers and leaders won't be able to rely on a rubber stamp legislature anymore. Governments will have to work with the other parties to pass legislation. This makes the legislature more accountable.

MMP is a much-needed check on centralization of power in the leaders' offices, which James and others continue to support.

It makes my blood boil that anti-MMP folks are using the argument "MMP gives more power to the backrooms" when in reality MMP takes power away from the backrooms and puts it in the legislature. It decentralizes power at Queen's Park.

As for the province-wide lists, the proposal leaves it up to parties to decide how to select their candidates. It only forces them to publicly reveal how they did it. This sets up a healthy competition between the parties to ensure their lists are representative.

The argument that the rules don't outline exactly how this will happen is bogus. We don't currently have rules how parties should nominate local candidates, nor do we have rules on how parties should elect leaders. This is how we currently operate, yet the anti-MMP folks are using these arguments as reasons to keep the status quo. It's circular reasoning, I think, meant to disguise their true intentions - keeping the FPTP which distorts voters' wishes and maintains centralized power.

Dr.Dawg said...

Wow. James Bowie can do all that, and keep a straight face. I'm not playing poker with that guy anytime soon.

Political parties are open. They are neither allowed to choose their members nor their candidates.

So how do the candidates become candidates, then--through magic? Of course the parties choose their candidates. Sometimes it's done through riding associations, sometimes by executive fiat. But parties choose the candidates.

"Unlike ordinary MPP's, whose nominations they can influence directly, list MPP's owe a debt of gratitude to the leader for being allowed on the list."

Under the current proposal, the process for assembling the lists must be provided to Elections Ontario, which will publicize this widely amongst the electorate. If the entire thing is in the hands of the leader (the Chretien way), this would lead to some electoral resistance at the polls. There are more democratic processes available, as James well knows.

[P]arty leaders already are too powerful, in my view.

Hence James' opposition to Chretien's ruling style. I simply can't find the reference, but perhaps he can provide it here.

James Bowie said...

With all respect to Matt Guerin, he has not refuted my point about political parties becoming more powerful. He has, in fact, provided a new example of how parties are given new powers.

When I suggested that party leaders would have new powers over caucus, Matt responded by saying that power goes to the legislature. This is a euphamism for other political parties, because the party ballot does not provide for a list of independent MPP's.

His point supports the idea that not only does the ruling party recieve new powers, but also opposition parties do. Consider the prowess of small parties in the Israeli system; they have far too much influence.

As for being bogus about the rules, we must remember that riding nominations and party customs predate confederation. The constitution of Canada doesn't deal with political parties because there is a tacit understanding about how they will work. It is not necessary to say that the GG must name a party leader as PM, but this happens anyhow because of custom. There is no custom attached to the idea of lists, so I reject the assertion that I am "bogus."

As for Mr. Dawg, I fully share his jaded and skeptical view of political parties. And I agree that he should not play poker with me if he has children who plan to attend post-secondary.

I also reject the importance of these Elections Ontario submissions. There being no available guidlines for these submissions, leaders will be free to fill them with euphamisms while maintaining control of the lists. If we know one thing about politicians, it is that they are happy to conduct loads of meaningless public consultation and ultimately act of their own will. Such could easily be the case with these lists.

In short, MMP gives parties new powers, and it doesn't describe in detail how those powers will be limited. It is, therefor, my belief that they will not be limited.

Jamie Callingham said...

I appreciate everyone's comments, I will take your positions into consideration, and will come to form my own opinion thereafter.