The preferential ballot favours the party with the most first preference votes

I have written several posts looking at the growing popularity of the preferential ballot/the alternative vote (AV) here in Canada – see this recent one, for example. I even attempted a redo of the 2011 Canadian federal election using the preferential ballot rather than our current FPTP. As I explained in that post, and in others, the big problem in attempting to forecast how the election would have played out using AV was the absence of data concerning voters’ preferences. Some polling firms would (and still do) regularly ask people which party was their second choice, but no one ever looked at voters’ potential 3rd, 4th, etc. choices. However, a new poll by Abacus Data has done just that. According […]

The real problem is MP irrelevancy

Recently, Canada’s federal Official Opposition proposed measures for improving decorum in the House of Commons. These measures would require changes to the Standing Orders in order to increase the Speaker’s authority to discipline unruly MPs: who use harassment, threats, personal attacks, or extreme misrepresentation of facts or position in the House, particularly regarding Statements by Members and Oral Questions, including: i.  Revoking questions during Oral Questions from parties whose Members have been disruptive ii. Issuing a warning to Members for a first offense iii. Suspending Members from the service of the House for one sitting day for a second offense; five days for a third offense; and twenty days for a fourth offense iv. Suspending Members’ sessional allowance for the […]

Electoral reform – not hot with Canadians but still worth pursuing

Canada’s federal Liberal Party is currently in the midst of a leadership race. During a debate held on 19 January 2012, the issue of electoral reform was raised a few times. The party has adopted an official position endorsing preferential voting (or the Alternative Vote), and most of the candidates stated that they backed that option. On Twitter, respected Canadian pollster Nik Nanos tweeted: #LPCldr electoral reform – not likely hot with Canadians – Cdns want to hear about jobs and healthcare. This comment reinforced two points for me. The first is my strong opposition to trying to implement electoral reform via a referendum. Mr. Nanos is entirely correct – the majority of Canadians don’t care about electoral reform. Even […]

Preferential voting isn’t the solution some think it might be

There have been a growing number of columns and articles in various Canadian media over the past few months bemoaning the state of our parliamentary democracy and proposing various changes which might improve the situation. More often than not, electoral reform is mentioned – either in the column itself, or by a reader commenting on the piece. There does seem to be a growing recognition or acceptance that the First-Past-the-Post voting system doesn’t quite work the way people would like. I won’t say it doesn’t work the way it should because it works exactly as it should. It simply isn’t the ideal system for multi-party democracies. Inevitably, in these discussions, someone proposes some form of proportional representation, usually Mixed-Member-Proportional, where […]

The length of two swords

Recently, the brilliant UK actor Philip Glenister (Life on Mars, Ashes to Ashes, State of Play, Mad Dogs, Hidden, etc.) was interviewed on the Andrew Marr show in connection with his latest role, that of Chief Government Whip in the play “This House“, which is set in 1974, when Labour had a shaky minority government.The discussion turned to the innately adversarial nature of politics in the UK House of Commons, with Marr noting that the play was in some ways an attack on the British parliamentary tradition, that of two sides against each other, and that underneath, there was a dream of a better way of doing things, a call for politics to be more consensual. Glenister noted that UK […]

Artificial preferences

There continues to be interest among many Canadians in the Alternative Vote (AV). Most recently the Liberal Party of Canada adopted a resolution calling for the implementation of a preferential ballot for national elections. This blog attempted to redo the May 2011 election using AV, and other bloggers have produced similar posts. This blog continues to get queries from individuals about that AV projection post. It is fair enough to say that AV is not the preferred option of most who favour electoral reform for one very important reason: it is not at all proportional and will do little to rectify the main failing of First-Past-the-Post (FPTP), namely, the election of a legislature where the number of seats won by the […]