Tuesday, September 25, 2018

In New Brunswick the party with more votes got fewer seats -- again.


New Brunswick voters lost in this year’s election, as the party with more votes got fewer seats, as in 2006.

With only 31.9% of the votes, the New Brunswick PCs have won 22 seats, while the Liberals with 37.8% of the votes have won only 21 seats. Since the potential Conservative ally, the People’s Alliance of New Brunswick, has three seats while the Greens also have three seats, the Conservatives claim they will form the next government.

This "plurality reversal" with a spread of 5.9% of the votes is the worst in 52 years. In the Quebec election of 1966 the Union Nationale won more seats than the Liberals despite having 6.5% fewer votes.  

Fair Province-wide result: 19 Liberals, 16 PCs, 6 Greens, 6 People’s Alliance, 2 NDP

But a fair and proportional voting system would have let every vote count. With 49 MLAs in New Brunswick, those Liberal voters deserved to elect 19 MLAs against only 16 PCs. Voters for the Greens and People’s Alliance deserved six MLAs each, while the 5% who voted NDP deserved two MLAs.

Instead of a coalition representing only 44% of voters, the new government would have been accountable to the majority of voters.

Donald Wright, a professor of political science at the University of New Brunswick, says: “Darwin was right. Ecosystems need genetic diversity … finally, we have some in the legislature.”

Worse, New Brunswick appears more divided into linguistic groups than it really is.

New Brunswick’s Commission on Legislative Democracy proposed four regions

The New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy proposed a proportional voting system in 2004 with four regions, so that voters in each region would be fairly represented in both government and opposition. Their Mixed Member Proportional model was similar to the model PEI voters chose in their plebiscite in November 2016.

In the 12 ridings of Northern New Brunswick, heavily francophone, the Liberals won all but one seat. However, those voters cast 24% of their votes for the PCs, 8.9% for the Greens and 8.5% for the NDP. They could have elected regional MLAs like PCs Danny Soucy and Jeannot Volpe, Green Charles Thériault who won 32% of the local vote and New Democrat Jean Maurice Landry who won 30%.

Conversely, in the 12 ridings of the South West, heavily English-speaking, Liberal voters elected only one MLA. They deserved two more, like incumbents John Ames and Rick Doucet. Green voters also deserved an MLA like Deputy Leader Marilyn Merritt-Gray, while People’s Alliance voters deserved two like Jim Bedford and Craig Dykeman.

In the South East someone like Acadian lawyer Joyce Richardson would have been a regional NDP MLA.  In Central New Brunswick Liberal Bill Fraser could have returned as a Regional MLA, while someone like Hanwell councillor Susan Jonah would have become a second Green MLA for the region.

I’m not talking about a closed-list system. The open-regional-list Mixed Member Proportional system means every MLA has faced the voters. That’s the system PEI voters chose last November, with a workable ballot as you can see here. That's also the way the BC NDP wants the Mixed Member system to work: voters would cast two ballots: one for a local MLA and one for a regional representative. It’s also the model on which the federal Electoral Reform Committee found consensus: a local and personalized proportional representation model. (The 2004 Commission recommended a closed-list MMP model, but Fair Vote Canada no longer recommends that version.)

You have two votes

You have two votes: one for your local MLA, and one for a regional MLA from your local region. You cast your second vote for a party’s regional candidate you prefer, which counts as a vote for that party. This is the same practical model used in Scotland, with one vital improvement: Canadian voters would like to vote for a specific regional candidate and hold them accountable.

The best of both worlds

Would proportional representation hurt small communities? Just the opposite: voters are guaranteed two things which equal better local representation:
1.         A local MLA who will champion their area.
2.         An MLA whose views best reflect their values, someone they helped elect in their local district or local region.

No longer does one person claim to speak for everyone in the district. No longer does one party claim unbridled power with only 40% support. Local districts are bigger than today, but in return you have competing MLAs: a local MLA, and about five regional MLAs from your local region.

Parties will work together

Parties will, unless one party had outright majority support, have to work together - to earn our trust where others have broken it, and to show that a new kind of governance is possible. Research clearly shows that proportionately-elected governments and cooperative decision-making produce better policy outcomes and sustainable progress on major issues over the long term.

Some fear-mongers claim proportional representation favours extremists. However, as a former conservative MLA in British Columbia, Nick Loenen, said recently “The best guarantee against abuse of government power is to share that power among the many, rather than the few."

Regional nominations

Typically, party members will nominate local candidates first, then hold a regional nomination process. Often the regional candidates will include the local candidates, plus a few regional-only candidates who will add diversity and balance to the regional slate. In order to ensure democratic nominations, it would be useful to deny taxpayer subsidy to any party not nominating democratically.  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.

2006

In 2006 New Brunswick saw a sad irony: Bernard's Lord's PCs had planned a referendum on the Commission on Legislative Democracy's recommended PR system, which Lord supported. When a resignation forced an early election, he won the most votes but the Liberals won the most seats, and shelved the Commission on Legislative Democracy's recommendation.

Note: my regional simulation, due to the breakdown between the four regions, happens to cost the People’s Alliance a seat, to the benefit of the PCs. This is because the PA cast their appeal mainly to the South West and Central regions, and got only 3% in the North and 4% in the South East, too few to elect anyone, so those 6,806 votes were ineffective. Result: 19 Liberals, 17 PCs, 6 Greens, 5 People’s Alliance, 2 NDP.


Technical note: the New Brunswick Commission on Legislative Democracy proposed four regions which mostly had 14 MLAs each, nine local and five regional. At that time New Brunswick had 55 MLAs. Today that has shrunk to 49, so most regions have 12 MLAs. I am still using five regional MLAs for each region, leaving seven or eight local MLAs. That means 40.8% of the MLAs are regional, which matches the 40% BC is looking at. A region with only four regional MLAs, only one-third, would not be enough to correct the disproportional results in New Brunswick’s disparate regions.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

What if every vote in Ontario had counted this year?


If every vote in Ontario had counted this year, what would that look like?

No one man would have a one-party government elected by only 40.5% of the votes.

On the votes cast this year, with proportional representation our Ontario legislature should have 51 PC MPPs, 42, NDP, 25 Liberals, and 6 Greens.

Rural and urban voters in every region of Ontario would have effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition. That’s a basic principle of proportional representation.

For example, let’s see what would happen using the mixed-member proportional system with open lists in ten regions. The regions would have an average of 12 MPPs each (seven local MPPs, five regional MPPs elected to top-up seats).

Did your vote count?

In 2018, 52% of Ontario votes were not effective to help elect an MPP, as the First-Past-The-Post system threw them in the trash.

And who can say what a real democratic voting system would have given Ontario? This year’s 58% turnout was the highest in five Ontario elections. But last year New Zealand, where every vote counts, saw a 79% turnout elect a new government with three-party support.

The open-list MMP system: Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities

We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 39% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose at their recent plebiscite.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

Competing MPPs:
You have a local MPP who will champion your community, and about five competing regional MPPs, normally including one whose views best reflect your values, someone you helped elect in your local district or local region

York—Durham 
Voters electing 15 MPPs from York Region and Durham Region would, instead of electing 14 PCs and only one NDP member, have elected three New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Niki Lundquist, Nerissa Carino, and Joel Usher or Melissa Williams), and three Liberal regional MPPs (maybe Steven Del Duca, Joe Dickson and Helena Jaczek), along with eight PCs.

Peel—Halton
Voters electing 15 MPPs from Peel and Halton Regions would, instead of electing only three NDP members and 12 PCs, have elected four Regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Charles Sousa, Kevin Flynn, Indira Naidoo-Harris and Dipika Damerla), one Green (maybe Eleanor Hayward), and one more New Democrat (maybe Nikki Clarke), along with six Progressive Conservatives.

City of Toronto
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Toronto—Etobicoke-York would, instead of electing only two Liberal MPPs, three NDP MPPs, and seven PCs, have elected three Liberals and four New Democrats, along with five Progressive Conservatives. Maybe Liberal Mike Colle and New Democrat Phil Trotter would have been elected as regional MPPs.

Voters electing 13 MPPs from Central Toronto-Scarborough would, instead of electing only one Liberal, have elected two Liberal regional MPPs (maybe Jess Spindler and Arthur Potts), along with six New Democrats and four PCs.

Suppose Toronto is three regions, including the eight MPPs from Downtown Toronto, where the NDP swept all eight seats. The PCs deserved to elect two regional MPPs downtown, like Andrew Kirsch and Gillian Smith.  

Central East (Kingston—Peterborough)
Voters electing nine MPPs from Central East Ontario would, instead of electing one New Democrat and eight PCs, have elected a Liberal regional MPP (maybe Jeff Leal or Sophie Kiwala), a Green regional MPP (maybe Robert Kiley, shadow cabinet critic for Citizenship and Immigration), along with another New Democrat (maybe Peterborough’s Sean Conway) and five local PC MPPs.

Eastern Ontario (Ottawa—Cornwall)
Voters electing ten MPPs from Eastern Ontario would, instead of electing only one New Democrat, have elected two regional NDP MPPs (maybe Ottawa’s Chandra Pasma and John Hansen) along with three Liberals and four PCs.

Central West (Simcoe—Bruce—Wellington)
Voters electing ten MPPs from Central West Ontario would, instead of electing no New Democrats and no Liberals, have elected three regional New Democrat MPPs (maybe Barrie’s Pekka Reinio, Bruce County's Jan Johnstone, and Orillia’s Elizabeth Van Houtte) and a Liberal (maybe Gerry Marshall), along with Green party leader Mike Schreiner and five local PC MPPs.

Central South (Hamilton—Waterloo—Niagara—Brantford)
Voters electing 16 MPPs from Central South Ontario would, instead of electing no Liberal or Green MPP, have elected two regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Jim Bradley and Kathryn McGarry) and a Green regional MPP (maybe Kitchener’s Stacey Danckert, finance critic, or David Weber) along with seven New Democrat MPPs and six PCs.

Southwest (London—Windsor)
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Southwest Ontario would, instead of electing no Liberal or Green MPP, have elected a regional Liberal MPP (maybe London’s Kate Graham) and a Green (maybe Perth—Wellington’s Lisa Olsen or London’s Carol Dyck).

Northern Ontario
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Ontario would, instead of electing only one Liberal MPP and three PCs, have elected a regional Liberal MPP (maybe Glenn Thibeault from Sudbury) and a regional PC MPP (maybe Yvan Genier from Timmins) along with six New Democrat MPPs.

A projection
This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2018. But, as Prof. Dennis Pilon says: "Now keep in mind that, when you change the voting system, you also change the incentives that affect the kinds of decisions that voters might make. For instance, we know that, when every vote counts, voters won't have to worry about splitting the vote, or casting a strategic vote. Thus, we should expect that support for different parties might change."

What sort of government would Ontario have had?
Cooperation between parties representing a majority can get a lot of good things done. This is the norm in most western democracies.

The Ontario government might have been:

1. A minority PC government with a supply-and-confidence agreement (like the Accord in Ontario in 1985) with the Liberals, ensuring a stable government for four years (giving the Liberals time to rebuild). Possible but unlikely.
2. A minority NDP government with a supply-and-confidence agreement (like the Accord in Ontario in 1985) with the Liberals, ensuring a stable government for four years (giving the Liberals time to rebuild). More likely than option 1.
3. A coalition government between the NDP and the Liberals. Less likely in today’s climate, more likely under PR when the public is more used to cooperation between parties representing a majority.
4. A coalition government between the PCs and the Liberals. Possible but less likely, even after the public is more used to cooperation between parties representing a majority.

5. A minority government with no agreement or Accord, relying on support from one or more other parties issue by issue. Possible but less stable (although Bill Davis made it work for four years from 1977 to 1981). Today, it would be very unstable because the minority government would be looking for an excuse to roll the dice and try for an accidental majority. Under PR, when an accidental false majority would not be possible, everyone might want to make it work (as happened in Scotland for four years from 2007 to 2011).

Technical Notes:
1.    Because of rounding errors when Ontario is divided into ten regions, the above projection gives the PCs a bonus of 1 and the NDP a bonus of 2, at the cost of the Liberals (2) and the Greens (1). The overall result is still close to proportionality.

2.    The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MPP region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MPPs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

3.    The purpose of the compensatory regional seats is to correct disproportional local results, not to provide a parallel system of getting elected. 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. Jenkins recommended 50%. 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. 

     (Note: this post was slightly corrected June 20.)

Saturday, March 10, 2018

What if every vote in Ontario counted this year?


If every vote in Ontario counted this year, what would that look like?

Rural and urban voters in every region of Ontario would have effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition. That’s a basic principle of proportional representation.

For example, let’s see what would happen in Ontario’s new 124-MPP legislature, using the votes cast in 2014. I am using the mixed-member proportional system with open lists in ten regions with an average of 12 MPPs each (seven local MPPs, five regional MPPs).

Ontario-wide result
For the new 124 seats, with proportional representation I get Liberals 49, PCs 37, NDP 30, Green 8.

Did your vote count?
In 2014 many votes did not count, as the First-Past-The-Post system threw them in the trash.

In Toronto, Peel Region and Halton Region the 48% of voters who voted Liberal elected 91% of their MPPs (30 of those 33 MPPs).  Result: the Official Opposition PC caucus has no representative of those 370,000 diverse PC voters.  The 304,000 who voted NDP elected only three MPPs. The 54,000 Green voters might as well have stayed home.

But take the three regions (below) of southern Ontario surrounding the big four metropolitan areas, stretching from Pembroke to Windsor. In 2014 the 37% of those voters who voted Progressive Conservative elected 62% of the MPPs from those regions, so the 30% who voted Liberal elected only 21% of them, the 25% who voted NDP elected only 17% of them, and the 7% who voted Green elected no one.

The open-list MMP system: Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities
We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 39% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose a year ago.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

Competing MPPs:
You have a local MPP who will champion your community, and about five competing regional MPPs, normally including one whose views best reflect your values, someone you helped elect in your local district or local region.

Central West (Simcoe—Bruce—Wellington)
Voters electing nine MPPs from Central West Ontario would, instead of electing only two Liberals (Barrie’s Ann Hoggarth and Guelph’s Liz Sandals) and no New Democrats, have elected four local PC MPPs and two Liberals, along with a regional Liberal MPP (maybe long-time PR supporter Fred Larsen from Orillia), a New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Simcoe County's Doris Middleton or Guelph’s James Gordon), and a Green (no doubt party leader Mike Schreiner).

Central East (Kingston—Peterborough)
Voters electing nine MPPs from Central East Ontario would, instead of electing no New Democrats, have elected four local PC MPPs and three Liberal MPPs, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Peterborough’s Sheila Wood).

Southwest (London—Windsor)
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Southwest Ontario would, instead of electing only one Liberal MPP and no Green, have elected two regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Windsor’s Teresa Piruzza and Huron school trustee Colleen Schenk) along with five New Democrat MPPs, four PCs, and a Green regional MPP (maybe London’s William Sorrell, Green shadow cabinet Labour critic).

Toronto
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Central Toronto-Scarborough would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Peter Tabuns) and no PCs, have elected seven local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Michael Prue and Rosario Marchese or Jonah Schein), two Progressive Conservatives (maybe Justine Deluce and Prof. Liang Chen), and one Green (maybe Tim Grant, Green shadow cabinet critic for Transportation).

Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Toronto—Etobicoke-York would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Cheri DiNovo) and no PCs, have elected six local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with one New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Paul Ferreira or Tom Rakocevic), three Progressive Conservatives (maybe Doug Holyday, Robin Martin and Michael Ceci), and one Green (maybe Dr. Teresa Pun, Green shadow cabinet Health critic).

Peel—Halton
Voters electing 15 MPPs from Peel and Halton Regions would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Jagmeet Singh) and no PCs, have elected eight local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Gugni Panaich and Kevin Troake), and four Progressive Conservatives (maybe Effie Triantafilopoulos, Ted Chudleigh, Jane McKenna and Jeff White).

York—Durham  
Voters electing 15 MPPs from York Region and Durham Region would, instead of electing three PCs and only one NDP member, have elected two more PCs (maybe Jane Twinney and Farid Wassef) along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Laura Bowman from East Gwillimbury and Whitby’s Ryan Kelly), three Progressive Conservatives (maybe Doug Holyday, Robin Martin and Michael Ceci), and one Green (maybe Peter Elgie or Stacey Leadbetter).

Central South (Hamilton—Waterloo—Niagara—Brantford)
Voters electing 16 MPPs from Central South Ontario would, instead of electing only three PC MPPs and no Green, have elected five MPPs from each major party and a Green regional MPP (maybe Kitchener’s Stacey Danckert, Green shadow cabinet Finance critic).

Ottawa—Cornwall
Voters electing ten MPPs from Eastern Ontario would, instead of electing no New Democrat or Green, have elected four Liberal MPPs and four PC MPPs along with a New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie) and a Green regional MPP (maybe Andrew West, Green Shadow Cabinet Attorney General critic).

Northern Ontario
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Ontario would, instead of electing only one PC MPP and no Green, have elected a regional PC MPP (maybe Timmins mayor Steve Black) along with five New Democrat MPPs, four Liberals, and a Green regional MPP (maybe North Bay’s Nicole Peltier, Green shadow cabinet critic for Consumer Services).

A projection
This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. But, as Prof. Dennis Pilon says: "Now keep in mind that, when you change the voting system, you also change the incentives that affect the kinds of decisions that voters might make. For instance, we know that, when every vote counts, voters won't have to worry about splitting the vote, or casting a strategic vote. Thus, we should expect that support for different parties might change."
Technical Notes:
1. The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

2. The purpose of the compensatory regional seats is to correct disproportional local results, not to provide a parallel system of getting elected. 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. Jenkins recommended 50%. 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.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

“Local” STV (“Local PR”)

I do not generally comment on electoral reform models for Ontario other than the Mixed Member Proportional system. Some people falsely call it the NDP model, but it has been used in Germany since 1949 (after being invented in the British Zone with the help of British political scientists). It was adopted by New Zealand in 1993, and Scotland and Wales in 1998. It was recommended for Canada by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004, just as the NDP also decided to propose it and for similar reasons.     

However, a group in Guelph has designed an STV model for Ontario with an unusual twist, that they call “Local PR” (also described here) although I would call it “Local STV.” STV is the system used in Ireland.

So here is a simulation on how it would have worked on the votes cast in the 2014 Ontario election.

(Feb. 11 note: I am about to update this blog post.)

This model groups ridings into regions of 4-7 ridings, like any STV model. But the present ridings continue as nomination districts: each party can nominate one candidate in each former riding. And the counting rules will prevent more than one candidate nominated in a nomination district (former riding) from being elected, so each nomination district will find one of its candidates elected. That’s the unique feature of this model.

All of the ballots in a region contain the same candidates, organized by riding (the columns) and party (the rows).

Regions:

I have divided Ontario into 19 regions which, on the 2014 total of 107 MPPs, each have an average of 5.63 MPPs. Although the rules call for regions of 4-7 ridings, Northwestern Ontario had only 3 ridings in 2014 although they will have four ridings in the 2018 election, so I have made it a separate region.

Province-wide outcome:

A fully proportional system would, on the votes cast in 2014, have elected 42 Liberal MPPs, 34 PCs, 26 New Democrats, and 5 Greens, rather than the actual outcome of 58 Liberal, 28 PCs and 21 New Democrats.

Because of the small regions, “Local PR” would have elected no Greens. I estimate the result would have been 47 Liberal MPPs, 33 PCs, and 27 New Democrats.

Regional MPPs or local MPPs?

In almost all of the 19 regions, voters for all three parties would have elected a representative. (No New Democrat in four-MPP Ottawa East-Cornwall, no PC in three-MPP Northwest Ontario.) Every vote counts, almost.

However, are these MPPs “regional MPPs?” Or do they claim to represent only the nomination district (riding) under whose name they were listed on the ballot?

Really, they are both at once, so they can claim to be local MPPs when it suits them, or regional MPPs when it suits them. They will need to hope “their” riding is not jealous of the time they spend across other ridings. Will they have offices in each riding? If that MPP is the only one representing his or her party in that region, they’re going to need offices across the region.

Local results and “wrong-winners”

Take the nine New Democrats who were defeated in 2014 but would have been elected in place of Liberals. In Toronto, Rosario Marchese would have been re-elected in Trinity—Spadina despite getting fewer votes in his riding than Liberal Han Dong. Critics of this model will say this is a “wrong-winner” outcome.

On the votes cast in 2014, Tom Rakocevic would have been elected in York West in place of Mario Sergio. Neethan Shan in Scarborough—Rouge River in place of Bas Balkissoon. In York Region, New Democrat Miles Krauter in Oak Ridges-Markham in place of Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek. In Brampton--Springdale, Gurpreet Dhillon in place of Status of Women Minister Harinder Malhi. In Halton, Nik Spohr in place of Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris. In Ottawa Centre, Jennifer McKenzie in place of Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. In Kingston, Mary Rita Holland in place of Sophie Kiwala. In Barrie, David Bradbury in place of Ann Hoggarth.

Those Liberal star losses would not happen so much in MMP, where a strong candidate running in another party’s stronghold can be elected to a regional top-up seat.

Three current New Democrat MPPs would have lost instead of being elected: two in Northeast Ontario and one in Hamilton.

Counting the ballots:

As usual with STV, any candidate who has reached quota is elected. I will use the example of a six-MPP region, where “quota” is 14.29% of the votes cast in the region.

On the votes as cast in 2014, no MPP – not even France Gélinas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt who got 62.7% of the vote, the highest in Ontario – would reach quota on the first count. In a real election, no doubt Kathleen Wynne, for example, when running in the six-riding North York region with enough Liberal voters to elect 3.7 MPPs, would reach quota on the first count once every voter in the region could vote for her. 

(The original counting system proposed in "Local PR" is even more complicated than described below, which I will update shortly.) 

If a candidate is elected, no other candidate nominated in that riding can be elected, so those candidates are eliminated. Next, the elected candidate will often have more votes than the quota. His or her surplus votes are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated (so that will be a candidate from a different nomination district). These transfers might put another candidate over quota, and again the surplus will be transferred. Finally, ballots for the candidates eliminated because a candidate from their nomination district has been elected will be transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated.

Once all candidates who have reached quota have been elected, the candidate in the region who has the fewest votes is eliminated, and those ballots are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated. However, if that candidate is the only one nominated in that riding who remains in the count, that candidate will be elected even without having reached the quota for election. This would happen quite often on the votes cast in 2014. This elimination process continues until six MPPs have been elected from that region.

One important point about STV is that, on the final count, there will be seven candidates, six elected and the “final count loser.”

Note on Simulation:

For the purpose of this simulation, I used the over-simplified assumption that voters are 100% loyal to their party, so their ballots will transfer to another candidate of the same party. If all candidates from that party have either been elected or eliminated, I have no data on second choice parties in 2014, so I have used 2015 federal data.

Friday, November 3, 2017

What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with Proportional Representation?

BC’s NDP government is moving to implement Proportional Representation. What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with proportional representation?

Andrea Horwath wants to make every vote count
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath told a public Town Hall event Oct. 18 “proportional representation makes a lot of sense, it has always been one of the things New Democrats have supported and believed in. It brings you a government that’s more reflective of the community at large, we see governments with that voting system have many more women elected to office, and greater diversity.”

Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities
We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 40% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose a year ago.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

The ten missing NDP MPPs.
If all NDP voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected ten more MPPs in 2014.

In Toronto NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only two MPPs, missing three more like Michael Prue and Jonah Schein and Tom Rakocevic or Rosario Marchese or Paul Ferreira.

In East Central Ontario NDP voters cast 20% of the votes but elected no one, missing two like Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Peterborough’s Sheila Wood.

In West Central Ontario (Waterloo—Bruce—Simcoe) NDP voters cast 19% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing two more like Jan Johnstone from Bruce County and Guelph’s James Gordon.

In Peel and Halton NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon or Gugni Gill Panaich.

In York and Durham Regions NDP voters cast 17% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like York Region lawyer Laura Bowman.

In the Ottawa-Cornwall region NDP voters cast 14% of the votes but elected no one, missing one like Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie or Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald.

The five missing Green MPPs
Green voters cast 8.3% of the votes in West Central Ontario, and deserved to elect their leader Mike Schreiner who got 19% of the votes in Guelph. They cast 5.5% of the votes in Ottawa—Cornwall region, and deserved to elect someone like Dave Bagler or Kevin O’Donnell. 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 3.7% of the votes in York—Durham, and deserved to elect someone like David Elgie, son of Ontario cabinet minister Bob Elgie.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

The parade of strongholds continued in 2014
Winner-take-all voting systems notoriously favour party strongholds. Voters living in them have an MPP in their party’s caucus. Others find no one at Queen’s Park to call.

Ontario’s accidental majority government, elected to stop Tim Hudak, looks dominated by the GTA. Almost two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA.
 
Invisible Liberal voters
But electing a Liberal MPP in the GTA took only 25,326 votes, while it took 45,026 outside the GTA. In the GTA 962,385 Liberal voters elected 38 MPPs, while outside the GTA, 900,522 Liberal voters elected only 20 MPPs.

Proportional representation is not a partisan issue.
Our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unheard in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta and Saskatchewan Liberals whose voices are seldom heard in Ottawa.

If all Liberal voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Terry Johnson in Chatham, Mike Radan in Middlesex, and Dr. Catherine Whiting in North Bay.

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 West Central Ontario, where only 37% of voters voted PC, they elected eight of those 13 MPPs. In East Central Ontario, where only 40% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those eight MPPs. In Southwestern Ontario, where only 32% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those 11 MPPs.

False Majorities
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, have no voice at Queen’s Park

Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters elect 42 Liberals, 33 PCs, 27 NDP and five Greens.

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?

A manufactured majority
In a truly democratic system, parties representing a true majority of voters would have to work together. As former Attorney-General John Gerretsen liked to say, “Nobody is ever 100-per-cent right and nobody is ever 100-per-cent wrong. Governing is the art of compromise. There’s nothing wrong with having the governing party take into account smaller parties.”

The 2014 election was all about rejection of Tim Hudak’s platform. In the process, voters accidentally elected a government with a manufactured majority of MPPs supported by less than 39% of voters. It has no legislative accountability to representatives of the majority of voters.

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 30% 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.”

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 calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

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.