Friday, June 13, 2014

Ontario’s winner-take-all election: the parade of strongholds continues

The parade of strongholds continues, in Ontario’s winner-take-all 2014 election.

Winner-take-all voting
Winner-take-all voting systems notoriously favour party strongholds. Voters living in them have an MPP in their party’s caucus. Others have no one at Queen’s Park to call.

Voters for parties with geographic strongholds elect governments with false majorities, thanks to the seat bonus from their strongholds. Voters for parties with no strongholds, like the Greens, elect no one.

In Ontario’s 2014 election, Toronto Liberal voters cast 49% of the Toronto votes, but elected 91% of Toronto’s MPPs, 20 of the 22.

In Peel and Halton regions Liberal voters cast 45% of those votes, but elected ten of those 12 MPPs, 83%.  In York and Durham Regions, Liberal voters cast 43% of those votes, but elected eight of those 12 MPPs, 67%.

A manufactured majority
While the PC vote share crashed from 35.4% to 31.3% between 2011 and 2014, the NDP vote share rose from 22.7% to 23.7%, the Liberal vote share rose from 37.7% to 38.6%, and the Green vote share rose from 2.9% to 4.8%.

From the voters’ point of view, this election was all about their rejection of Tim Hudak’s platform.  In the process, they elected a government supported by less than 39% of voters, with a manufactured majority of MPPs. For the next four years, it has no legislative accountability to representatives of the majority of voters.   

Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters elect 42 Liberals, 34 PCs, 26 NDP and five Greens.

Invisible Liberal voters
Ontario’s surprise majority government looks dominated by the GTA. Two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA, 38 of 58.

But to elect a Liberal MPP in the GTA took only 25,689 votes, while it took 44,332 outside the GTA. That’s because our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unrepresented in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta Liberals whose votes don’t count in Ottawa.

Southwestern Ontario Liberal voters in the 11 ridings of the London to Windsor region cast 23% of those votes, but those silenced voters elected only one MPP. If our voting system made all votes equal and effective, they would have elected the three Liberal MPPs their region deserved.

Northern Ontario Liberal voters cast 35% of Northern votes but elected only three of the ten MPPs, not the four Liberal MPPs their region deserved.

Unrepresented conservative voters
Meanwhile, the official opposition has a mirror image of the same problem. Their caucus has no representative of the 205,996 Toronto Progressive Conservative voters, and only four from the rest of the GTA. Yet, in Central and Mid-east Ontario, where only 39% of voters voted PC, they elected seven of those 11 MPPs.  In Waterloo—Bruce region, where only 35% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those nine MPPs. In Southwestern Ontario, where only 32% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those 11 MPPs.

To reject Tim Hudak’s platform, voters elected five more Liberal MPPs than in 2011.

NDP strongholds
Yet when NDP voters elected seven more MPPs than in 2011 (while also losing three), all but two of the seven gains were from their Southwestern Ontario stronghold (three), and their Hamilton—Niagara and Northern strongholds (one each). In Central and Mid-East Ontario NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected no one.  In the Ottawa-Cornwall region NDP voters cast 14% of the votes but elected no one.

In Toronto NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only two MPPs. In Waterloo--Bruce region NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only one MPP. In Peel and Halton NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected only one MPP. In York and Durham Regions NDP voters cast 17% of the votes but elected only one MPP, when Jennifer French took Oshawa from the PCs with 47% of the vote.

The MPPs missing from Queen’s Park
If all Liberal voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Teresa Piruzza in Windsor, Terry Johnson in Chatham, and Andrew Olivier in Sudbury or Dr. Catherine Whiting in North Bay.

If all NDP voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland, Peterborough’s Sheila Wood, Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie or Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald, Toronto’s Michael Prue and Jonah Schein or Rosario Marchese and Tom Rakocevic or Paul Ferreira, York Region lawyer Laura Bowman, Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon or Gugni Gill Panaich, and Jan Johnstone from Bruce County.

Green voters cast 7.6% of the votes in Waterloo—Bruce region, and deserved to elect their leader Mike Schreiner who got 19% of the votes in Guelph. They cast 6.8% of the votes in Central and Mid-East Ontario, and deserved to elect Matt Richter who got 19% of the votes in Parry Sound-Muskoka. They cast 4.5% of the votes in Peel and Halton, and deserved to elect Karren Wallace who got 17% of the votes in Dufferin-Caledon. They cast 3.9% of the votes in Toronto, and deserved to elect someone like Tim Grant or Rachel Power. They cast 5.3% of the votes in Ottawa—Cornwall region, and deserved to elect someone like Dave Bagler or Kevin O’Donnell.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. In fact, more would have voted. And some would have voted differently -- no more strategic voting. We would likely have seen different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have seen different parties. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

Mixed Member System
This simulation assumes Ontario should use the mixed member system recommended by The Law Commission of Canada. We still elect local MPs. Voters unrepresented by the local results elect regional MPs, in ten regions. This tops up the local results so the total MPs match the vote share. Fair Vote Canada says “The supporters of all candidates and political parties must be fairly represented in our legislatures in proportion to votes cast.”

Personal MMP
Back in 2007, Ontario voters did not support a proposal for the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system modelled on the one used in Germany and New Zealand, with closed lists. But this recommendation is for a Personal MMP model.

The Law Commission recommended that your second vote should let you choose either a party or one of the regional candidates nominated by parties. This is commonly called “open list” rather than “closed list.” The result is that all MPs have faced the voters, and no one is guaranteed a seat.

You have two votes
You have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today. With the other, you also help elect a few regional MPs to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal.

Competing MPs
Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.” The Law Commission model would give citizens competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in their area. Scotland uses regions of 16 MPs, Wales 12. I’m assuming a typical region would have 11 MPPs: seven local, four regional “top-up.” Generally, three of today’s ridings become two larger local ridings.

There's more. With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 35% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Fair Vote Canada says“A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”
 
Accountable MPPs
With the same 107 MPPs we have today, I’m assuming 65 MPPs would still be elected from larger local ridings, and 42 MPPs would be elected regionally. These regions are large enough that voters for every major party would be represented in every region.

Regional MPPs
Who would those regional MPPs be? First, each party would hold regional nomination meetings and/or vote online to nominate their regional candidates. These would often be the same people nominated locally, plus a few additional regional candidates. The meeting would decide what rank order each would have on the regional ballot. But then voters in the region would have the final choice.

Proportional
With top-up regions of about 11 MPPs each, the results are very close to perfect proportionality. Green Party voters elect the five MPPs they deserve.

Power to the voters
An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in the legislature, more voter choice. No one party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. One-party dominance by the Premier’s office will, at last, be out of fashion. Governments will have to listen to MPPs, and MPPs will have to really listen to the people. MPPs can act as the public servants they are supposed to be.

Ten different Commissions, Assemblies and Reports in the past eleven years in Canada have unanimously recommended proportional representation.

No central party direction
The models in Ontario and PEI which failed referendums had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs. This failure was no surprise to the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

How would regional MPs serve residents?
See how it works in Scotland.

Diversity
Clearly this would allow fair representation of Ontario’s political diversity in each region.

Would this model also help reflect in the Legislature the diversity of society, removing barriers to the nomination and election of candidates from groups now underrepresented including women, cultural minorities and Aboriginals? Polls show that 90% of Canadian voters would like to see more women elected. If they can choose from several of their party's regional candidates, they'll almost certainly elect more women. And as long as a party is nominating at least five regional candidates, you can expect them to nominate a diverse group. With four regional MPs from a region, and seven local MPs, a major party would want more than five regional candidates, since any candidates who win local seats are removed from contention for regional seats.

Technical notes

This model was described in more detail by Prof. Henry Milner at an electoral reform conference Feb. 21, 2009, where he recommended 14-MP regions. A similar "open-list" model is used in the German province of Bavaria and was proposed by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission in 2006.

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of the 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets any small region sizes.


The Law Commission recommended that the right to nominate candidates for regional top-up seats should be limited to those parties which have candidates standing for election in at least one-third of the ridings within the top-up region. This prevents a possible distortion of the system by parties pretending to split into twin decoy parties for the regional seats, the trick which Berlusconi invented to sabotage Italy’s voting system. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quebec’s 2014 election under proportional representation


More Choice

The main improvement proportional representation would make in Quebec politics is to give voters more choice.

No longer would the winner-take-all system tend to force voters into a choice between a federalist party and a sovereignist party, choosing the lesser of evils. Almost every vote would count equally to elect your first choice.

How would it work on the votes cast in 2014?

But most people ask “how would it work?” Here’s an easy way to see that. Let’s see how the votes cast in the 2014 election would have a different result, even though the real change would be to let voters vote differently.

With proportional representation, the number of Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) elected matches the share of the votes cast by supporters of each party.

Across Quebec, the total results under proportional representation would have been 54 Liberal MNAs rather than 70, 32 Parti Quebecois (PQ) MNAs rather than 30, 29 Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) rather than 22, and ten Quebec Solidaire (QS) rather than only three. That’s using the nine-region mixed compensatory system described by Quebec’s Director-General of Elections (DGE).

On April 7, it took 107,708 votes to elect a QS MNA, 44,345 votes to elect a CAQ MNA, 35,803 votes to elect a PQ MNA, and only 25,101 votes to elect a Liberal MNA.

Accountable MNAs

But can we still keep MNAs accountable to our community or region? Yes. With the mixed compensatory system described by Quebec’s Director-General of Elections (DGE), we still elect local MNAs. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MNAs, so that the total MNAs match the vote share. It’s ”compensatory.”

In each of nine regions, the majority of MNAs would still be elected in local districts (larger ones, a similar size to the federal election districts), but at least 40 percent of them would be elected as regional MNAs. Across Quebec you would see about 75 local ridings and 50 regional MNAs.

Local MNAs and Regional MNAs

On Montreal Island, instead of 28 local MNAs, voters would elect 18 local MNAs and ten regional MNAs.

On the votes cast in 2014, they would have been 17 Liberals, five PQ, three CAQ, and three QS. Let’s compare that with the actual results under the winner-take-all system: 21 Liberals, four PQ, and three QS.

In Laval, voters would have elected three Liberals, two PQ, and one CAQ, rather than all six Liberals.

The 128,116 CAQ voters in Montreal Island and Laval, silenced by winner-take-all, would be fairly represented. Also, PQ voters were slightly cheated, while the Liberals got a bonus of seven MNAs.

But in Laurentides—Lanaudière it was the PQ and CAQ that got the winner-take-all bonus: those voters deserved to elect five PQ, five CAQ, four Liberals, and one QS, rather than the actual result which elected seven PQ MNAs, seven CAQ, and one lonely Liberal in Argenteuil.

How would Montreal voters be represented?

In Montreal Island, assume those 18 larger ridings elected 13 Liberals, the PQ got three, and QS two. Then the ten regional MNAs are three CAQ, four Liberals, two PQ, and one QS. These compensate for the disproportional local results. They top up the number of MNAs from Montreal Island to make 17 Liberals, five PQ, three CAQ, and three QS, so every vote counts equally.

Who would those ten regional MNAs from Montreal Island be?

Open lists, closed lists, flexible lists

The DGE discussed the options in a report in December 2007:

1. closed lists: the top candidates as ranked in the party’s regional nominations;
2.  open lists: you vote for your party’s regional candidate you prefer; 
3.  flexible lists: you can vote for the regional slate or one name on it.

Closed lists let parties nominate a slate with whatever gender balance and minority representation their members choose. Open lists give voters maximum choice.

The DGE concluded that the objective of flexible lists is “to reach a balance between voter choice and better representation of women and minorities.” That’s also why the Law Commission of Canada recommended it.

So the three CAQ MNAs, for example, would be the top three as ranked by the regional nominations and personally re-ranked by the voters. Every MNA has faced the voters. It’s personal.

In Laval, you would have three local Liberal MNAs, two regional PQ MNAs, and one regional CAQ MNA.

In Laurentides—Lanaudière you would have four local PQ MNAs and one regional, four local CAQ and one regional, one local Liberal and three regional, and one regional QS.

Would those three regional Liberal MNAs be real MNAs, or would they just have safe seats? Not safe at all: in 2018 the Liberals might very well elect more local MNAs, and not be entitled to any regional compensatory MNAs in Laurentides—Lanaudière. So those three regional MNAs will certainly open local offices in their community, where they hope to win a local seat in 2018.


A coalition government?

Would the government be a coalition? Possibly. It is interesting that the Liberals could pass bills with the support of either the CAQ or QS or the PQ, so they might govern as a minority, or as a coalition, or as an "accord" -- common in New Zealand: a "confidence-and-supply" agreement, where the partner agrees to pass budgets and vote confidence in return for an agreed agenda, but remains free to move amendments to bills, and is not in cabinet. Ontario had an "Accord" government in 1985-87.

Regional results

Liberal voters were also under represented in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean—Côte-Nord. With proportional representation, this region elects three Liberal MNAs, three PQ, and one CAQ, rather than only two Liberals and five PQ. (That’s one local Liberal MNA and two regional, three local PQ, and one regional CAQ.)

In the other five regions described by the DGE, the results under proportional representation would be:

Montérégie: eight Liberals, six PQ, six CAQ, and two QS, so QS gains two at the cost of the PQ. (That’s five local Liberal MNAs and three regional, five local PQ MLAs and one regional, three local CAQ and three regional, and two regional QS.)

Capitale-Nationale—Mauricie: six Liberals, four PQ, five CAQ, and one QS, rather than the 13 Liberals, one PQ, and two CAQ elected April 7. (That’s six local Liberal MNAs, one local PQ and three regional, two local CAQ and three regional, and one regional QS.)

The west and north (Outaouais, Abitibi and North): five Liberals, two PQ, one CAQ, and one QS, rather than the eight Liberals and one PQ elected April 7. (That’s five local Liberal MNAs, one local PQ and one regional PQ, one regional CAQ, and one regional QS.)

Estrie-Centre-du-Québec: three Liberals, two PQ, three CAQ, and one QS, rather than five Liberals and four CAQ. (That’s three local Liberal MNAs, two local CAQ and one regional, two regional PQ, and one regional QS.)

Eastern Quebec (Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent, and Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine): five Liberals, three PQ, four CAQ, and one QS, rather than the six Liberals, four PQ, and three CAQ elected April 7. (That’s four local Liberal MNAs and one regional, two local PQ and one regional, two local CAQ and two regional, and one regional QS.)

So across Quebec, the Liberal caucus would include 41 local MNAs and 13 regional MNAs. The PQ caucus would include 19 local MNAs and 13 regional MNAs. The CAQ caucus would include 13 local MNAs and 16 regional MNAs. The Quebec Solidaire caucus would include two local MNAs and eight regional MNAs.

And these totals match province-wide proportionality almost exactly. (Due to rounding differences using nine regions, the province-wide calculation would give the CAQ one more MNA and the Liberals one fewer.)

More political diversity

Instead of the CAQ caucus holding having no representative from Montreal Island and Laval, it would have had four MNAs there: maybe Mathieu Binette, Sylvain Medza, Richard Campeau, and Domenico Cavaliere?

Instead of the 323,124 Quebec Solidaire voters electing only three MNAs, and none from outside the island of Montreal, they would have elected seven more. Maybe Manon Blanchard and Carl Lévesque in Montérégie, Vincent Lemay-Thivierge in Laurentides—Lanaudière, Marie-Ève Duchesne in Capitale-Nationale—Mauricie, Benoit Renaud in the west and north (Outaouais, Abitibi and North), Hélène Pigot in Estrie-Centre-du-Québec, and Marie-Neige Besner in the East of Quebec (Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine)?

Instead of the 130,827 Liberal voters in Laurentides—Lanaudière being almost silenced, they would have elected three regional MNAs as well as Yves St-Denis. Maybe Vicki Emard, Marie-Claude Collin, and Isabelle Leblond?

I have shown no one elected from Option Nationale or any other party, because they did not get enough votes to win even one regional seat. Furthermore, many people would prefer a threshold of 4% or 5% before a party can win a regional seat.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. In fact, more would have voted. And some would have voted differently -- no more strategic voting. We would likely have seen different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have seen different parties. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

The Mixed Compensatory system in a nutshell

Each voter has two votes.

The local vote is used to elect an MNA to represent your riding, as today.

The regional vote or party vote is used to elect several regional MNAs from your region.

The local vote can be cast by marking your ballot with an X for any candidate standing in your riding, as we do today. The candidate chosen by the largest number of voters in a riding wins the seat on a winner-take-all basis.

The regional vote can be cast by marking your ballot with an X for any regional candidate standing on the regional ballot.

If that candidate is a party candidate, this vote counts as a vote for your party. The parties' regional votes are then counted to give the level of support for each party in the region.

If a party’s voters have managed to elect only a few local MNAs in that region, or none at all, that party gets additional “top-up” seats to make their final total more in line with their vote share in the region. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal and proportional. The party’s regional candidates with the most votes win those seats.


Personalized proportional representation

Every voter has competing MPs: you can go to your local MP or one of your diverse regional MPs. Germans call this "personalized proportional representation."

Once every vote counts, voters will be free to vote for their real first choice, and more voters will find it worthwhile to vote. Turnout is 5 to 6 points higher in countries where the electoral system is proportional, says research published by Elections Canada.

With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 35% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Locally anchored MNAs

The models rejected in Ontario and PEI had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs.

This failure was no surprise to the UK’s Jenkins Commission, which recommended the same system described above. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

Will the Liberal caucus still remember why they wanted proportional representation in 2005-2006?

In 1970, René Lévesque was cheated by winner-take-all, when the PQ came second with 23% of the vote, but stood fourth in the assembly with only seven seats. In 1973, again Lévesque was cheated when the PQ vote rose to 30% but it won only six seats. So when he finally won, after losing the 1980 referendum he turned his mind to proportional representation.

But his caucus balked in 1981-4, just as Charest's caucus did in 2006. And just as Pierre Trudeau's caucus would not even let him implement his 1980 Throne Speech commitment. In 1980 Pierre Trudeau's problem with western under-representation in his government was extreme: he had only two MPs from the four western provinces, both from Manitoba. Trudeau would have had sixteen more western MPs with proportional representation. In its 1980 Speech from the Throne, Trudeau’s newly re-elected Liberal government promised to appoint a committee to study the electoral system. One of the very few promises he could not keep. (Although 70% of Canadians support PR, this seldom includes government backbenchers.)

Technical note

The rounding method used in this calculation is “highest remainder,” because it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of the 5% threshold.

Monday, March 24, 2014

How would proportional representation work for Quebec's National Assembly?

More Choice

The main improvement proportional representation would make in Quebec politics is to give voters more choice.

No longer would the winner-take-all system tend to force voters into a bi-polar choice between one federalist party and one sovereignist party. Almost every vote would count equally to elect someone.

How it would work on the votes cast in 2014.

How would it work on the votes cast in 2012?

But most people ask “how would it work?” Here’s an easy way to see that. Let’s see how the votes cast in the 2012 election would have a different result, even though the real change would be to let voters vote differently.

With proportional representation, the number of Members of the National Assembly (MNAs) elected matches the share of the votes cast by supporters of each party.

Accountable MNAs

But can we still keep MNAs accountable to our community or region? Yes. With the mixed compensatory system described by Quebec’s Director-General of Elections (DGE), we still elect local MNAs. Voters unrepresented by the local results top them up by electing regional MNAs. The total MNAs match the vote share.

Local MNAs and Regional MNAs

On Montreal Island, instead of 28 local MNAs, voters would elect 17 local MNAs (from larger ridings) and eleven regional MNAs.

On the votes cast in 2012, they would have been 13 Liberals, seven Parti Quebecois (PQ), five Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ), and three Quebec Solidaire (QS). Let’s compare that with the actual results under the winner-take-all system: 20 Liberals, six PQ, and two QS.

In Laval, voters would have elected two Liberals, two PQ, and two CAQ, rather than four Liberals, two PQ and no CAQ.

The 189,354 CAQ voters in Montreal Island and Laval, silenced by winner-take-all, would be fairly represented. Also, PQ and QS voters were slightly cheated, while the Liberals got a bonus of nine MNAs.

But outside Montreal Island and Laval, it was the PQ that got the winner-take-all bonus. Across Quebec, the total results under proportional representation would have been 41 PQ MNAs rather than 54, 40 Liberal MNAs rather than 50, 36 CAQ rather than 19, and eight QS rather than only two.

How would Montreal voters be represented? The 17 larger local ridings would be about the same size as the federal ridings. Similarly, across Quebec you would see 75 local ridings and 50 regional MNAs.

In Montreal Island, assume 12 ridings elected Liberals, the PQ got four, and QS one. Then the eleven regional MNAs are five CAQ, three PQ, two QS, and one Liberal. These compensate for the disproportional local results. They top up the number of MNAs from Montreal Island to make 13 Liberals, seven PQ, five CAQ, and three QS, so every vote counts equally. In Laval, you would have two local Liberal MNAs, two local PQ MNAs, and two regional CAQ MNAs.

Who would those eleven regional MNAs from Montreal Island be?

Open lists, closed lists, flexible lists

The DGE discussed the options in a report in December 2007:

  1. closed lists: the top candidates as ranked in the party’s regional nominations;
  2. open lists: you vote for your party’s regional candidate you prefer; 
  3. flexible lists: you can vote for the regional slate or one name on it.
Closed lists let parties nominate a slate with whatever gender balance and minority representation their members choose. Open lists give voters maximum choice.

The DGE concluded that the objective of flexible lists is “to reach a balance between voter choice and better representation of women and minorities.” That’s also why the Law Commission of Canada recommended it.

So the five CAQ MNAs, for example, would be the top five as ranked by the regional nominations and re-ranked by the voters. Every MNA has faced the voters.

Regional results

In the other seven regions described by the DGE, the results under proportional representation would be:

Montérégie: eight PQ, seven CAQ, six Liberals, and one QS, rather than 12 PQ, seven Liberals and three CAQ. (That’s seven local PQ MNAs and one regional, two local CAQ and five regional, four local Liberals and two regional, and one regional QS.)

Laurentides—Lanaudière: six PQ, six CAQ, two Liberals, and one QS, rather than the actual result which shut out 94,003 Liberal voters, electing 11 PQ MNAs and four CAQ. (That’s six local PQ, three local CAQ and three regional, two regional Liberals and one regional QS.)

The west and north (Outaouais, Abitibi and North): three Liberals, three PQ, two CAQ and one QS, rather than five Liberals and four PQ. (That’s three local Liberal MNAs, two local PQ and one regional PQ, two regional CAQ, and one regional QS.)

Estrie—Centre-du-Québec: remarkably, this region would see no change, thee MNAs from each major party.

Capitale-Nationale—Mauricie: six CAQ, five Liberals, four PQ, and one QS, close to the six CAQ, six Liberals and four PQ elected in 2012.

Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean—Côte-Nord: rather than the PQ sweeping all seven seats, silencing 47,567 Liberal voters, they would have elected two MNAs, the CAQ one, and the PQ only four. (That’s four local PQ MNAs, two regional Liberals and one regional CAQ.)

Eastern Quebec (Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine): four Liberals, four CAQ, four PQ, one QS, rather than five Liberals, five PQ, and three CAQ.

So across Quebec, the PQ caucus would include 32 local MNAs and nine regional MNAs. The Liberal caucus would include 30 local MNAs and ten regional MNAs. The CAQ caucus would include 12 local MNAs and 24 regional MNAs. The Quebec Solidaire caucus would include a local MNA and seven regional MNAs.

And these totals match province-wide proportionality almost exactly. (Due to rounding differences using nine regions, the province-wide calculation would give the Liberals one more MNA and the CAQ one fewer.)

More political diversity

Instead of the CAQ caucus holding the balance of power but having no representative from Montreal Island and Laval, it would have had seven MNAs there: maybe Dominique Anglade (CAQ Party President), Guy Boutin, Maud Cohen, Mario Bentrovato, Richard Campeau, Paola Hawa and George Manolikakis?

Instead of the 263,111 Quebec Solidaire voters electing only two MNAs, and none from outside the island of Montreal, they would have elected six more. Maybe Andrés Fontecilla or Manon Massé in Montreal, Manon Blanchard in Montérégie, Flavie Trudel in Laurentides—Lanaudière, Benoit Renaud in the west and north (Outaouais, Abitibi and North), Serge Roy in Capitale-Nationale—Mauricie, and Patricia Chartier in the East of Quebec (Chaudière-Appalaches, Bas-Saint-Laurent, Gaspésie-Îles-de-la-Madeleine).

Instead of the 94,003 Liberal voters in Laurentides—Lanaudière being shut out, they would have elected two MNAs: maybe Lise Proulx and Linda Lapointe. Instead of the 47,567 Liberal voters in Saguenay—Lac-Saint-Jean—Côte-Nord being silenced, they would have elected two MNAs: maybe Serge Simard and Lise Pelletier.

I have shown no one elected from Option Nationale or any other party, because they did not get enough votes to win even one regional seat. Furthermore, many people would prefer a threshold of 4% or 5% before a party can win a regional seat.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2012. In fact, more would have voted. And some would have voted differently -- no more strategic voting. We would likely have seen different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have seen different parties. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

The Mixed Compensatory system in a nutshell

Each voter has two votes.

The local vote is used to elect an MNA to represent your riding, as today.

The regional vote or party vote is used to elect several regional MNAs from your region.

The local vote can be cast by marking your ballot with an X for any candidate standing in your riding, as we do today. The candidate chosen by the largest number of voters in a riding wins the seat on a winner-take-all basis.

The regional vote can be cast by marking your ballot with an X for any regional candidate standing on the regional ballot.

If that candidate is a party candidate, this vote counts as a vote for your party. The parties' regional votes are then counted to give the level of support for each party in the region.

If a party’s voters have managed to elect only a few local MNAs in that region, or none at all, that party gets additional “top-up” seats to make their final total more in line with their vote share in the region. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal and proportional. The party’s regional candidates with the most votes win those seats.


Personalized proportional representation

Every voter has competing MNAs: you can go to your local MNA or one of your diverse regional MNAs. Germans call this "personalized proportional representation."

Once every vote counts, voters will be free to vote for their real first choice, and more voters will find it worthwhile to vote. Turnout is 5 to 6 points higher in countries where the electoral system is proportional, says research published by Elections Canada.

With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 35% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Locally anchored MNAs

The models rejected in Ontario and PEI had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs.

This failure was no surprise to the UK’s Jenkins Commission, which recommended the same system described above. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.” See how this works in Scotland.

PQ Bonus

One of the weirdest things about winner-take-all voting is the bonus it gives the PQ in Quebec elections.

The PQ has traditionally enjoyed a much higher vote efficiency than the Liberals, due to their lead among francophone voters. The classic example is the 1998 election, where the Liberals actually won more votes while the PQ formed a majority government.

In 1998 the PQ won 61% of the seats on 42.9% of the vote, while the Liberals won 38% of the seats on 43.6% of the vote. That’s not because the ridings the PQ won had smaller populations. It’s because the PQ had the majority of francophone votes across the majority of ridings, while the Liberals piled up wasted big majorities in federalist ridings. Result: it took 36,914 votes to elect a Liberal MNA, while it took only 22,951 votes to elect a PQ MNA, 38% fewer. That’s the PQ’s 38% bonus.

But not just in 1998.

In the 1995 referendum, sovereignists lost when they won only 49.4% of the vote. Yet, if the referendum has been on a riding-by-riding winner-take-all basis, the Yes would have won when it carried the day in 65% of the ridings.

In 1994 it took 36,972 votes to elect a Liberal MNA, while it took 22,746 votes to elect a PQ MNA: 38% fewer. Again, the PQ had a 38% bonus.

In 2003 and 2008, when the Liberals won, their false-majority bonus exceeded the underlying built-in PQ bonus. But the basic issue continued. That’s why Jean Charest tried to introduce proportional representation in 2004-5. (Sadly, his caucus diluted the model until it was no longer acceptable to the public.)

In Quebec in 2012 it took 27,219 votes to elect a Liberal MNA, while it took only 25,809 votes to elect a PQ MNA, 5.2% fewer. That’s the PQ’s 5.2% bonus.

In 1970, René Lévesque was cheated by winner-take-all, when the PQ came second with 23% of the vote, but stood fourth in the assembly with only seven seats. In 1973, again Lévesque was cheated when the PQ vote rose to 30% but it won only six seats. So when he finally won, after losing the 1980 referendum he turned his mind to proportional representation.

But his caucus balked in 1981-4, just as Charest's caucus did later. And just as Pierre Trudeau's caucus would not even let him implement his 1980 Throne Speech commitment. In 1980 Pierre Trudeau's problem with western under-representation in his government was extreme: he had only two MPs from the four western provinces, both from Manitoba. Trudeau would have had sixteen more western MPs with proportional representation. In its 1980 Speech from the Throne, Trudeau’s newly reelected Liberal government promised to appoint a committee to study the electoral system. One of the very few promises he could not keep. (Although 70% of Canadians support PR, this seldom includes government backbenchers.)

Even today, when the Liberals, the CAQ and Quebec Solidaire need proportional representation, the PQ still respects Lévesque’s legacy – but just not this year.


Technical note

The rounding method used in this calculation is “highest remainder,” because it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of the 5% threshold. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How would proportional representation work in the Ottawa area?

How would proportional representation work in the Ottawa area?

Polls show more than 70% of Canadians support proportional representation for Canadian elections. The Liberal Party of Canada has opened the door to start implementing it within one year of the 2015 election.

So this is no longer an academic discussion. This is a practical discussion: if Canada gets PR, how would it work in Ottawa?

Mixed Proportional

With the Mixed Proportional system, you have two votes. With one, you help elect a local MP as we do today. With the other, you can vote for the party you want to see in government, and for your favourite of your party’s regional candidates.

In this way, you also help elect a few regional MPs to top-up the local results so that every vote counts: it’s proportional. You can vote for the regional candidate you prefer: it’s personal. There would be no closed lists. Voters would elect all the MPs.
 
This open list method was recommended both by our Law Commission and by the Jenkins Commission in the UK. Their colourful explanation accurately predicted why closed lists would be rejected in Canada: additional members locally anchored are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”
 
Competing MPs
Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.” These models let citizens of regions across Canada elect competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in their area, likely including someone they helped elect. Every vote counts. Each province still has the same number of MPs it has today. No constitutional amendment is needed.

Two models

In 2015 the Ottawa Valley plus Cornwall will have 11 MPs, including a new riding: Rideau—Carleton.

Ottawa could be an eight-MP region, in the model discussed here: Ottawa will have eight MPs, including new Rideau—Carleton. (In this model, the eight new ridings from Belleville to Cornwall and Pembroke would also be an eight-MP region centred on Kingston.)

Or Ottawa could be in an 11-MP region, in the model discussed here.

The majority of these MPs would still be local MPs. The others would be regional MPs, topping up the results to make them match the vote shares.

So what would that look like? I’ve done simulations based on the votes cast in 2011. But when every vote counts, turnout will be at least 6% higher, and no one will have to cast a “strategic vote.” Who can say what would be the result of real democratic elections?

Ottawa

In 2011 those voters elected four Conservative MPs, and only three others (two Liberals, one New Democrat). Yet those voters cast only 42% of votes for Conservatives, 31% Liberals, 23% New Democrats, and 4% Greens. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect three MPs, Liberal voters three MPs, and New Democrat voters two MPs.

OttawaCornwallPembroke

In 2011 those voters elected seven Conservative MPs, and only three others (two Liberals, one New Democrat). Yet those voters voted only 45% Conservative, 28% Liberal, 21% New Democrat, 4% Green, and 2% others. If every vote counted equally, on those votes on the 2015 boundaries Conservative voters would elect five MPs, Liberal voters three MPs, New Democrat voters two MPs, and Green voters one. (See Technical note below.)

Regional candidates

How would party members in these regions nominate and rank a group of regional candidates? It could be done on-line, and with a live convention site in Ottawa. Likely party members would nominate the same candidates nominated in the local ridings, and some additional regional candidates.
 
But voters would have the final say, since they can vote for their party’s regional candidate they prefer.

For local MP, you can vote for the candidate you like best without hurting your party, since the party make-up of parliament is set by the party votes. In New Zealand, 35% of voters split their votes that way.

Ottawa MPs

In the first model, based on the UK’s Jenkins Commission Report, Ottawa has five local MPs and three regional MPs. Let’s suppose the five local MPs are Conservatives John Baird and Pierre Poilievre, Liberals David McGuinty and Mauril Bélanger, and New Democrat Paul Dewar. (Whether this would really happen would depend on the borders of the five new larger ridings.) In that case, voters for each party would also elect one regional MP. (In this model, the local MP is elected by a preferential ballot, but that would have made no difference in Ottawa on the 2011 votes.)

Conservative voters can vote for the regional Conservative candidate they prefer. Many would prefer Baird or Poilievre, but on election day, since they already won a local seat, the regional seat would go to the next most popular. In other words, Conservative voters whose preference was not Baird or Poilievre would elect the third Conservative MP. Maybe francophones would prefer Royal Galipeau. Lebanese and other ethnic voters might prefer Elie Salibi. Woman Conservative voters might prefer the female candidate. Oddly, in 2011 all eight Conservative candidates in Ottawa were men. (That great Ottawa Conservative Charlotte Whitton would have been astonished.) But when Ottawa Conservatives met to elect their regional candidates, after they had confirmed five men who had already won local nominations, can you imagine them failing to nominate a woman?

Liberal voters would elect a regional Liberal MP, such as Anita Vandenbeld. NDP voters would elect a regional MP, such as Trevor Haché or Marlene Rivier. 

OttawaCornwallPembroke

In the second model, based on the Law Commission of Canada Report, this region with eleven MPs would have seven local MPs and four regional MPs. Conservative voters would elect five MPs, Liberal voters three MPs, New Democrat voters two MPs, and Green voters one.

Let’s suppose the seven local MPs are Conservatives John Baird, Pierre Poilievre, Guy Lauzon, Cheryl Gallant, and Pierre Lemieux or Royal Galipeau; Liberal Mauril Bélanger; and New Democrat Paul Dewar. In that case, Liberal voters would also elect two regional MPs (David McGuinty and Anita Vandenbeld or Julie Bourgeois?), New Democrat voters one (Trevor Haché or Marlene Rivier?), and Green voters one (Jen Hunter or Caroline Rioux?).

What would regional MPs do?

How would regional MPs operate? The regional MPs would cover several ridings each. Just the way it’s done in Scotland. Many regional MPs would need several offices, just as Pierre Lemieux already has offices in Hawkesbury, Rockland, Embrun and Alexandria.

Canada-wide consequences.

If we had used province-wide totals with perfect proportionality the projected results on the 2011 votes with the extra 30 MPs would be: 140 Conservatives, 104 NDP, 64 Liberals, 19 Bloc, and 11 Green.

With these mixed models, the projected results are 141 Conservatives, 107 or 108 NDP, 65 or 67 Liberals, 15 or 17 Bloc, and 8 or 9 Greens. Close to perfect proportionality, while keeping all MPs accountable to real local and regional communities.

This is not a partisan scheme. Unrepresented Conservative voters would elect eight or nine more Quebec MPs, one more in Newfoundland, one more in PEI, and one more on Vancouver Island.

Of course, proportional representation would mean a lot for Canada. We would not likely have a one party government’s Prime Minister holding all the power. (The last Prime Minister who got more than 50% of the votes was Brian Mulroney in 1984.) Parliament would reflect the diverse voters of every province.

With this kind of power-sharing, Canada would look quite different.

If we had a Proportional Representation voting system, here are only a few of the things Canadians could have accomplished over the past twenty years:

Ø Engaged and motivated voters

Ø A reinvigorated democratic system

Ø More women MPs and a fair mix of party representation

Our electoral system is broken and people know it:

Ø Disengaged citizens are ignoring their right to vote

Ø A dysfunctional conflict-oriented political process

Ø Majority governments with minority voting results
Poll results on proportional representation

Environics asked “Some people favor bringing in a form of proportional representation. This means that the total number of seats held by each party in Parliament would be roughly equivalent to their percentage of the national popular vote. Would you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose moving towards a system of proportional representation in Canadian elections?”


Interviewing for this Environics National Telephone Survey was conducted between March 18th – 24th, 2013, among a national random sample of 1,004 adults. The margin of error for a sample of this size is +/- 3.10%, 19 times out of 20.

Result: support 70%, oppose 18%, depends 6%, don’t know 6%.

The Environics poll showed 93% of Green voters support proportional representation while 4% oppose; 82% of NDP voters support it while 11% oppose; 77% of Liberal voters support it while 15% oppose; 62% of Conservative supporters support it while 28% oppose; and 55% of voters undecided as to party support PR while 19% oppose and 27% said “don’t know” or “depends.”

This is not new. Poll results have shown this for 13 years.

Technical note

The rounding method used in the simulation is highest remainder, for the same reason the Ontario Citizens Assembly chose it: it's the simplest. Germany used to use this too, on the premise that it offset the risk to proportionality of the 5% threshold. Similarly it offsets the eight-MP region sizes.

You might wonder how Green Party voters would deserve an MP in OttawaCornwallPembroke. The numbers work out as follows: Conservatives 5.037 MPs; Liberals 3.175 MPs; New Democrats 2.373 MPs; Greens 0.414. After the first ten seats are calculated, the 11th seat goes to the “highest remainder.” So the Greens were lucky to win that seat.

Would second preferences have changed any results in 2011? Sometimes; I’ve used the EKOS poll taken April 28-30, 2011:

 
P.S. to Green Party supporters

You may think these examples show the Green Party can’t win in an eight-MP region, at least in Ottawa.

Not so. In 2011 the Green Party got a lot fewer votes than in 2008, when the Green Party got 8.6% in Ottawa. At the 2008 vote levels, Ottawa’s eight MPs would be 3 Conservatives, 3 Liberals, 1 NDP and 1 Green.