Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

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Should British Columbia adopt Proportional Representation? (round three)

Yes
6
60%
No
2
20%
Who cares?
2
20%
 
Total votes: 10

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Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 07:45pm

Kind of surprised this hasn't popped yet; I was expecting someone in B.C. to post this for awhile now.

Behold, proof that some people in Toronto do in fact pay attention to what's going on beyond the edge of the known universe our municipal boundary:
First province past first-past-the-post? B.C. votes on electoral reform

British Columbia is asking its citizens if it should become the first province in Canada to move away from first-past-the-post voting.
The voting period for the province’s electoral reform referendum began Monday and runs until Nov. 30.
Voters are being asked two questions, including whether they would prefer to continue with a first-past-the-post electoral system or switch to some form of proportional representation. They can also rank three different forms of proportional representation in order of preference.

Under a first-past-the-post system, whichever candidate receives more votes than each of his or her opponents is declared the winner of the election.
Critics argue that this allows for major parties to be over-represented in legislatures based on their share of the vote, while smaller parties can be shut out entirely even if they receive a significant percentage of all votes.
People in favour of first-past-the-post often argue that proportional representation systems are too complex and do not provide as direct of a link between voters and their elected representatives.
A referendum on switching to proportional representation failed in Ontario in 2007. Voters in Prince Edward Island were in favour of making the switch when asked during a referendum in 2016, and will vote on the issue again next year.
More information on B.C.’s referendum is available on the province’s dedicated website.
https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/first-pro ... -1.4143799


As the thread title says, this will be the third time that B.C. has had a referendum in the last couple of decades. In 2005 the majority voted for PR but that did not met the supermajority (60%) threshold set by the government. In 2008 the majority voted against PR, so that was that.


Here are the rules this time around:
What Are We Voting On?

Voters in the referendum will be asked what voting system B.C. should use for provincial elections.
From October 22 to November 30 a referendum is being held to decide what voting system we should use for provincial elections.
Voters will be asked two questions on the referendum ballot.
The first question asks if we should keep the current First Past the Post voting system or move to a system of proportional representation.
The second question asks voters to rank three proportional systems: Dual Member Proportional (DMP), Mixed Member Proportional (MMP), and Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP).
Learn about the voting systems on the ballot:
First Past the Post (FPTP)
Dual Member Proportional (DMP)
Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)
Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

What happens after the referendum?

The referendum will decide if British Columbia keeps the current First Past the Post voting system or adopts a proportional representation voting system.
If more than half the votes support First Past the Post on the first question, the voting system will stay the same.
If more than half the votes support proportional representation on the first question, the proportional system with the most support on the second question will be adopted.
If a proportional voting system is adopted it must be in place for provincial elections called on or after July 1, 2021. A provincial election called before this date would use First Past the Post.
If a proportional representation voting system is adopted, government has said that after the referendum:
a legislative committee will determine how some aspects of the new system will work
an independent electoral boundaries commission will determine the number and boundaries of the electoral districts and regions represented in the legislature
the total number of MLAs in the legislature will be between 87 and 95 (currently there are 87)
no region in the province will have fewer MLAs than it does now
another referendum will be held after two general elections to see if B.C. wants to keep the new voting system or go back to using First Past the Post
https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/abou ... voting-on/
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-10-22 07:54pm

I'm in BC, but I've been more focused on US stuff in my posting here, and truth be told, I haven't made up my mind how I'm going to vote on this one.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 07:58pm

I assume everyone knows how First-Past-the-Post (aka whoever has the most votes wins) works, so here are the three forms of PR under consideration:
What is the Dual Member Proportional voting system?

In Dual Member Proportional (DMP), most electoral districts are combined with a neighbouring district and represented by two Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). The largest rural districts continue to have one MLA elected by getting the most votes.

In two-MLA districts, parties can have one or two candidates on the ballot. Parties decide which of their candidates is listed first on the ballot and which is listed second, shown on the example ballot below as “primary candidate” and “secondary candidate”. Voters vote for a candidate or pair of candidates by marking the ballot once.

The first seat in a district is won by the candidate with the most votes. For parties that run two candidates, this seat is filled by the candidate the party listed first on the ballot.
Second seats go to parties so that each party’s share of seats in the legislature roughly matches its share of the province-wide popular vote. A party’s second seats are filled in districts where its candidates did particularly well. Parties need at least five percent of the vote to get any second seats.

DMP was recently developed in Canada and is not currently in use.


Characteristics of Dual Member Proportional (DMP)

Voting
Parties nominate up to two candidates per district
Parties specify their first and second candidates on the ballot
Voters vote for one option on the ballot – a party’s candidate, candidates, or an independent candidate

Counting
Urban and Semi-Urban Districts

The first candidate of the party with the most votes in the district wins the first seat
The second seat is won by a party based on its share of the popular vote province-wide and their performance in each district
Independent candidates win a seat if they place first or second in the district
A party must get at least 5 percent of the vote province-wide to get any second seats

Large Rural Districts
The candidate with the most votes wins

Results
Results are proportional at the provincial level
The candidate in second place may not win the second seat, because second seats are allocated to parties to get a proportional outcome
Representation
Between 87 and 95 MLAs
British Columbians in urban and semi-urban areas have two MLAs representing their district. These districts are likely to be represented by MLAs from different political parties.
British Columbians in large rural districts have one MLA representing their district

Electoral districts
Urban and semi-urban districts are combined with a neighbouring district
Boundaries of the largest rural districts stay the same
If DMP is adopted, an independent electoral boundaries commission will decide after the referendum which districts will stay the same and which will be combined

https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/voti ... ional-dmp/



What is the Mixed Member Proportional voting system?

In Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) there are two types of MLAs. District MLAs represent electoral districts and are elected using First Past the Post. Regional MLAs represent groups of electoral districts called regions. They are elected from a party list so that each party’s share of seats in the legislature roughly matches its share of the province-wide popular vote.

Regional seats are allocated to parties within defined regions, not the province as a whole. District seats and regional seats – added together – roughly match the party’s share of the vote. A party must get at least five percent of the vote to get any regional seats.
In some forms of MMP, voters have two separate votes: one for a district candidate and one for a party. In other forms, voters cast one vote for a candidate that also counts for the candidate’s party. If MMP is adopted, a legislative committee will decide after the referendum if voters have one vote or two.

MMP is used in a number of countries at the national or sub-national level, including Germany, New Zealand and Scotland.

Characteristics of Mixed Member Proportional (MMP)

Voting
There are two possibilities:

Voters have two votes – one for a candidate and one for a party
Voters have one vote and vote for a candidate. This vote counts for the candidate and the candidate’s party.

In both cases, the regional member is elected from a list of candidates prepared by the party. There are three possible types of party list:

Closed list – voters vote for a party’s list of candidates
Open list – voters vote for an individual candidate on the party’s list
Open list with party option – voters vote for a candidate or endorse a party’s list of candidates

If MMP is adopted, a legislative committee will decide whether voters have one vote or two and what type of party list is used

Counting

The total number of seats a party gets is based on its share of the popular vote province-wide
The candidate with the most votes in the district wins the district seat
District seats are “topped-up” by regional seats so that the total number of seats a party gets roughly matches its share of the popular vote province-wide
A party must get at least five percent of the vote to get any regional seats.

Results

Results are largely proportional at the provincial level
Regional seats are allocated within defined regions

Representation
Between 87 and 95 MLAs
British Columbians have one MLA representing their electoral district and several MLAs representing their region
If MMP is adopted, at least 60 percent of MLAs would be district MLAs, but the exact ratio of district MLAs to regional MLAs would be decided by a legislative committee after the referendum

Electoral districts

Districts would be larger than they are now and there would be fewer of them
If MMP is adopted, a legislative committee will determine the number of MLAs in each region after the referendum
If MMP is adopted, an independent electoral boundaries commission will determine district and regional boundaries
https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/voti ... ional-mmp/


What is the Rural-Urban Proportional voting system?

Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP) combines two different proportional voting systems: Single Transferable Vote (STV) and Mixed Member Proportional (MMP).
Voters in urban and semi-urban districts use STV to elect multiple MLAs for their larger electoral district.

STV districts are larger and have more than one MLA

Parties can run multiple candidates in a district and voters rank their preferred candidates on the ballot (1, 2, 3, etc.). Voters can rank as many candidates as they wish.

In rural districts voters use MMP to elect district and regional MLAs (see MMP).
Provincial results are likely to be generally proportional.
RUP is not used anywhere as a single system, though MMP and STV are used in several countries at the national or sub-national level. MMP is used in Germany, New Zealand, and Scotland. STV is used in Ireland, Australia and Malta.

Characteristics of Rural-Urban Proportional (RUP)

Voting
Urban and Semi-Urban Districts (STV)

Voters rank candidates in order of preference (1, 2, 3…)
Voters can rank as many candidates as they wish
Parties can run multiple candidates in a district (up to the number of seats in the district)

Rural Districts
See MMP

Counting

Urban and Semi-Urban Districts (STV)

Several rounds of counting are usually required
Each district has a minimum number of votes needed to win one seat in the district. This number is called the quota and varies in each district depending on how many votes and how many seats there are.
Any candidate who reaches the quota is elected
If an elected candidate has more votes than the quota, their extra votes are transferred to other candidates using the voter’s next choice
Candidates with the fewest votes are dropped and their votes are transferred to other candidates using the voter’s next choice
Counting continues in this way until all seats in the district are filled

Rural Districts

See MMP

Results
Overall provincial results are likely to be generally proportional

Representation
Between 87 and 95 MLAs
British Columbians in urban and semi-urban areas have multiple MLAs representing their larger electoral district
British Columbians in rural areas have one MLA representing their electoral district and other MLAs representing their region

Electoral districts
Electoral districts would be larger than they are now and there would be fewer of them
If RUP is adopted, an independent electoral boundaries commission will determine the MMP districts, the MMP regions, and the STV districts
https://elections.bc.ca/referendum/voti ... ional-rup/
Last edited by Tribble on 2018-10-22 07:59pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 07:58pm

Thoughts?
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Elheru Aran » 2018-10-22 07:59pm

First Past the Post is the thing when one candidate gets enough votes, they win regardless of how the vote count turns out, right? I've always thought that was kinda bullshit. Elections should wait until all the votes are counted, at least, to declare a winner.

(not that I have a dog in this particular fight, but you know. two cents and all)
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 08:10pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-10-22 07:59pm
First Past the Post is the thing when one candidate gets enough votes, they win regardless of how the vote count turns out, right? I've always thought that was kinda bullshit. Elections should wait until all the votes are counted, at least, to declare a winner.

(not that I have a dog in this particular fight, but you know. two cents and all)
Under first past the post, whoever gets the most votes in a riding wins. As Canada usually has 3-4 major political parties at the provincial / federal level, this often means that the winning candidate does not win via a majority vote. Example:

Candidate A --> 40%
Candidate B --> 35%
Candidate C --> 25%


Candiadate A wins this one, even though technically speaking s/he did not receive a majority of the votes.

In Canada majority governments usually form ~38%-40% range. IIRC there have been occasions (in PEI in particular) where one party took virtually all of the seats with *correction* just over a majority of votes.

In municipal politics it can get absurd, especially when political parties are not allowed. In Toronto there was a councillor who won with just 17% of the vote - yes, 83% did not vote for form (and he was an incumbent so you could argue that effectively 83% voted against him) yet there he was in office for another 4 years.

You can see why some (though obviously not all) view FPTP as being flawed and unfair.
Last edited by Tribble on 2018-10-22 08:17pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Zaune » 2018-10-22 08:15pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 07:54pm
I'm in BC, but I've been more focused on US stuff in my posting here, and truth be told, I haven't made up my mind how I'm going to vote on this one.
Huh. For some reason I had an idea you were an Ontarian.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2018-10-22 08:18pm

Zaune wrote:
2018-10-22 08:15pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 07:54pm
I'm in BC, but I've been more focused on US stuff in my posting here, and truth be told, I haven't made up my mind how I'm going to vote on this one.
Huh. For some reason I had an idea you were an Ontarian.
Well... sort of? I was actually born in Toronto, and I spent three years there in university, but I'm a BC resident at the moment.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 08:19pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 08:18pm
Zaune wrote:
2018-10-22 08:15pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 07:54pm
I'm in BC, but I've been more focused on US stuff in my posting here, and truth be told, I haven't made up my mind how I'm going to vote on this one.
Huh. For some reason I had an idea you were an Ontarian.
Well... sort of? I was actually born in Toronto, and I spent three years there in university, but I'm a BC resident at the moment.
Congrats on surviving HogTown for 3 years, not everyone can :P
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Zaune » 2018-10-22 08:23pm

The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 08:18pm
Well... sort of? I was actually born in Toronto, and I spent three years there in university, but I'm a BC resident at the moment.
Oh, I see. For my part, other than a week and a half in Niagara the part of Canada I know best is Windsor ON. I have fond memories of the place, which probably tells you a lot about where I grew up.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-22 08:26pm

Zaune wrote:
2018-10-22 08:23pm
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2018-10-22 08:18pm
Well... sort of? I was actually born in Toronto, and I spent three years there in university, but I'm a BC resident at the moment.
Oh, I see. For my part, other than a week and a half in Niagara the part of Canada I know best is Windsor ON. I have fond memories of the place, which probably tells you a lot about where I grew up.
...Detroit? :P
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Zaune » 2018-10-22 08:35pm

Wrong continent.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Jub » 2018-10-22 09:23pm

Literally, anything is better than first past the post in terms of fair representation. It's telling that the strongest (only?) argument against it is complexity. The Rural-Urban Proportional seems like the fairest system and once people get used to picking multiple people on one ballot any added voter side complexity will soon be forgotten.

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-10-23 02:09pm

Jub wrote:
2018-10-22 09:23pm
Literally, anything is better than first past the post in terms of fair representation. It's telling that the strongest (only?) argument against it is complexity. The Rural-Urban Proportional seems like the fairest system and once people get used to picking multiple people on one ballot any added voter side complexity will soon be forgotten.
Well, the other arguements against PR are:

PR allows extremist parties to gain traction more easily so long as they meet the cutoff threshold and

Since minority governments are the norm in PR and major parties rarely want to compromise with each other, the government of the day may have to turn to extremist parties for support.

IMO while both of these arguments have some truth to them, FPTP does not prevent the rise of extremism either. IMO FPTP may be worse in this regard. While PR can lead to extreme parties taking seats, IMO they are more likely to be contained if the general population still sticks to major parties. However in FPTP what can happen is an extreme wing of a major party can effectively seize control of it, and thus have a lot more power than it would if it were a seperate party. That's basically what happened to the GOP via the tea party and Trump movements.

YYMV of course.
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Jub » 2018-10-23 02:35pm

Tribble wrote:
2018-10-23 02:09pm
Jub wrote:
2018-10-22 09:23pm
Literally, anything is better than first past the post in terms of fair representation. It's telling that the strongest (only?) argument against it is complexity. The Rural-Urban Proportional seems like the fairest system and once people get used to picking multiple people on one ballot any added voter side complexity will soon be forgotten.
Well, the other arguements against PR are:

PR allows extremist parties to gain traction more easily so long as they meet the cutoff threshold and

Since minority governments are the norm in PR and major parties rarely want to compromise with each other, the government of the day may have to turn to extremist parties for support.

IMO while both of these arguments have some truth to them, FPTP does not prevent the rise of extremism either. IMO FPTP may be worse in this regard. While PR can lead to extreme parties taking seats, IMO they are more likely to be contained if the general population still sticks to major parties. However in FPTP what can happen is an extreme wing of a major party can effectively seize control of it, and thus have a lot more power than it would if it were a seperate party. That's basically what happened to the GOP via the tea party and Trump movements.

YYMV of course.
Canada already forms coalition governments at both the provincial and federal level so a lot of this is less likely to be new here if this passes. In BC we're likely to see the greens hold a few extra seats and maybe a slightly more even split between major parties due to how votes get counted.

There could be issues if the theoretical crazy party holds a couple seats and forms part of a coalition, but coalitions usually lead to short election cycles where little gets done.

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-10-23 04:29pm

Jub wrote:
2018-10-22 09:23pm
Literally, anything is better than first past the post in terms of fair representation. It's telling that the strongest (only?) argument against it is complexity. The Rural-Urban Proportional seems like the fairest system and once people get used to picking multiple people on one ballot any added voter side complexity will soon be forgotten.
I don't like RUP because it treats rural and urban districts differently. Too much room for politicians to play with the definition of urban/rural to redefine borders. In rural areas, it works like MMP. In Urban areas, it places too much emphasis on district elections, which only works for parties with concentrated support. A party with 10% support over all of BC, but spread evenly, would get 0 seats from urban voters. A system where a party can have 10% of urban voters giving it their first choice, but getting 0 seats from them, doesn't seem fair to me.

DMP is just asking for undemocratic results. Lets imagine an election with three parties. The Unfairness party gets about 40% of the vote in each district. The other two parties have the vote split between them, neither of those parties ever having more votes in a district than the Unfairness party. By the rules of DMP, the Unfairness party gets the first seat in every district. So they get half of all seats even when more than half the voters voted for one of the other two parties.

I live in New Zealand, where we have had MMP for years. I think MMP is the fairest system because it has an explicit party vote and the proportion of the party vote approximately the proportion of MPs each party gets. Though there are some results I'd consider undemocratic:
- There are times when a party wins more electorate seats than the number of seats the party vote would give them.
- Since the threshold is a percentage of the party vote, or one electorate win, getting one electorate can lead to a party getting several seats. Even when a party with more party vote gets 0 because it didn't meet the threshold. For example, ACT and NZ First parties in 2008. Fixable by lowering the party vote threshold.

Both of which can affect which coalition wins. So it has led to some major parties not running an electorate MP in some electorates to allow an allied patry to win the electorate and get into parliament.

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Jub » 2018-10-23 04:51pm

Okay, thanks for the input. Looks like my ballot will be marked MMP.

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-10-23 07:13pm

Jub wrote:
2018-10-22 09:23pm
It's telling that the strongest (only?) argument against it is complexity.
Even that argument smells of bullshit. None of those systems have anything more complex than the issue of drawing district borders. How do you draw borders in a way that avoids accidental gerrymandering ?

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Tribble » 2018-11-07 09:56pm

In Non-Trump related news...

Now that mail-in referendum is now well underway, has anyone here voted?

And on related note, I completely missed Quebec's new government supposedly trying to move to Proportional Representation without a referendum, and despite having a majority:
CAQ government could soon change the way Quebec votes

The new Coalition Avenir Québec government has promised to change the way Quebecers vote in provincial elections, and two opposition parties — the Parti Québecois (PQ) and Québec Solidaire (QS) — support adopting the same electoral system used in Germany and New Zealand.

When the CAQ won the election at the beginning of this month, it set a Canadian record: the party won nearly 60 per cent of available seats with only 37 per cent of the popular vote — the lowest popular support ever for a majority government.

This begs the question: is Quebec’s first-past-the-post voting system really democratic?
However, despite his large majority, Premier François Legault has promised to reform the system to make sure that every vote counts.
The proposed system, called mixed-member proportional representation, is commonly referred to as MMP. Here’s how it works:
Out of the 125 seats at the National Assembly, 75 MNAs would be elected in geographical ridings similar to the way they are now. The other 50 seats would be distributed to the parties based on the popular vote.
Under an MMP system, the CAQ would have won closer to 50 seats during this year’s Oct. 1 election, rather than the 74 it actually won. The party would have formed a minority government, while the PQ and QS would have each won about 20.

It’s a system that is more representative of how Quebecers actually vote, but Massicotte said Quebec’s anglophone minority would certainly be impacted because ridings would become larger, pointing to the island of Montreal as an example.
If that were the case, representation of English-speaking Quebecers would be diluted. However, Massicotte also suggested there is another way minorities could be heard.
“It would increase the likelihood that anglophones create their own party, instead of supporting the Liberals,” he said.
This could potentially allow them to hold the balance of power in the case of minority governments.
Massicotte pointed out that minority governments become the norm under MMP. The professor was a technical adviser for the Jean Charest government when it proposed electoral reform in 2003. Quebec’s Liberals abandoned the idea two years later, just like governments in other Canadian provinces.
“An MMP model was presented to Ontario voters and Prince Edward Island voters and was rejected in both cases,” Massicotte said.
Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government also backed down on its 2015 election promise to bring in proportional representation at the federal level. British Columbia is holding a referendum on the issue to be determined at the end of November.

One of the reasons is that it makes it harder to form a majority government. Massicotte said Legault will likely face resistance from his own caucus when his 74 MNAs start to reflect more deeply on the idea.
“And they realize that lots of them will lose their seats,” he added.
It will be interesting to see if this goes through. Parties which advocate switching electoral systems have the habit of ditching the idea once they win big under FPTP (Justin Trudeau, I'm looking at you!)
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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by bilateralrope » 2018-11-07 10:19pm

Tribble wrote:
2018-11-07 09:56pm
It will be interesting to see if this goes through. Parties which advocate switching electoral systems have the habit of ditching the idea once they win big under FPTP (Justin Trudeau, I'm looking at you!)
That's pretty much how it went in New Zealand. National was winning the government under FPTP despite losing the popular vote. Labour, the other big party, made a lot of noise about how they would fix it. Then Labour got into government and tried to back down, only to have National go after them for not keeping their promise. Which is what pushed MMP through.

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Re: Third time's the charm? B.C. is having a referendum on Proportional Representation... again.

Post by Rogue 9 » 2018-11-08 10:57pm

Elheru Aran wrote:
2018-10-22 07:59pm
First Past the Post is the thing when one candidate gets enough votes, they win regardless of how the vote count turns out, right? I've always thought that was kinda bullshit. Elections should wait until all the votes are counted, at least, to declare a winner.

(not that I have a dog in this particular fight, but you know. two cents and all)
First past the post has a bunch of problems, but what you describe isn't one of them. This is a nice, succinct summation.



This video, on the other hand, summarizes mixed-member proportional representation, similar to what's being voted on in BC.



Both are part of a whole series on different election systems, found in this playlist.
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