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On how the List MPP’s should be picked by the parties in an MMP system.

A critical component to the proposed MMP electoral reform system for Ontario are the List MPP’s. There has been much gnashing of teeth over whether these are “democratically accountable” MPP’s or not. I will not re-visit that argument today, but what I will be touching on today is what might be the best method (from a democratic viewpoint) that parties should endeavour to use when picking people for their various lists, because that was not set in stone by the Citizens Assembly. It was left to the parties to come up with their own method, with the provision being they had to submit their lists to Elections Ontario to a) show who they picked and what order they’re in and I believe b) how they picked them.

I again talked with Greg Morrow of DemocraticSPACE.com. I chatted with him a couple of days ago about this, and he discussed with me what his preferred method would be. He has a very detailed explanation that he goes into below, so without any further ado….

Greg believed there are many good options out there to choose from, The best way, in his opinion, is to hold REGIONAL NOMINATION MEETINGS. The key is for those regions to be big enough that enough women and minorities are nominated (according to Greg, a minimum of 5 list spots would be a good number), but small enough that the candidates/regions represent a genuine community of interest.

In Greg’s setup, Party members at regional nomination meetings can decide whether they want to include candidates nominated locally on their list or not (in some cases, where it is clear a candidate will win locally, it is a waste to dual-list him/her; in other cases, it might be desirable to dual-list a candidate who faces a tough local battle; the party could set some basic parameters — for example, at least 1-2 list candidates per region must be not dual-listed, to ensure there are enough list members in case all local members are elected, or 40% of list candidates must be women, or that there be a representative number of minority candidates — i.e. roughly equal to their share of the regional population, etc).

In Greg’s opinion, allowing locally-nominated candidates to be eligible for list spots is important to generate competition within the parties (as people say: bad for politicians, good for voters), which increases the accountability of local MPPs. But, if the list is entirely made up of local candidates, you close off opportunities for women, minorities, or just candidates who bring some special skills to the table, but who are don’t have the money to run a local campaign. According to Greg, the key is to put the selection of list candidates in the hands of the regions, rather than the central party executive. If so, it’s not dissimilar from local nominations today.

However, Greg believes this process also gives the party some flexibility in deciding how order its list candidates — the regions nominate the list candidates, but the party can then decide whether to “zipper” its list — i.e. alternate man-woman-man-woman-etc, or whether to put candidates from regions where it thinks it will not be as successful locally (so as the ensure a caucus that is regionally balanced), or to ensure that enough of its top spots are minorities. It’s the best of both worlds — candidates are nominated regionally (thus accountable to the membership in a given region) but the party can be strategic in how it orders those nominated candidates.

Greg says there are different ways that you can think of the regions — you can have fewer larger regions or more smaller regions. It’s a trade-off — the smaller the regions, the better they represent regional interests, but the worse it is for women and minorities (since there aren’t enough list spots — the literature generally recognizes you need at least 5 list spots in order for women/minorities to get a fair shot). On the other hand, fewer regions means that they can all have at least 5 list spots.

Greg then sent me some very detailed options of how you could do the regional list nominations – he included 3 possible examples:

A) 6 larger regions — best for women/minorities (since all regions have 5+ list spots)
B) 9 medium-sized regions — a balance of list spots and geography
C) 11 smaller regions — better regional representation, but at expense of women/minorities (since small # of list spots)

Below is what each example might look like in Greg’s scenario:
***

Option A: 6 larger regions

1. NORTHERN ONTARIO
(Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Cochrane, Algoma, Manitoulin, Sudbury, Greater Sudbury, Timiskaming, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Muskoka)
estimated 9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

2. EASTERN ONTARIO
(Prince Edwards, Hastings, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac, Renfrew, Lanark, Leeds-Grenville, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell, Ottawa)
estimated 13 local ridings
nominate 6 list candidates

3. CENTRAL ONTARIO
(Simcoe, York, Durham, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland)
estimated 16 local ridings
nominate 7 list candidates

4. SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO
(Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth, Wellington, Waterloo, Huron, Bruce, Grey, Dufferin)
estimated 16 local ridings
nominate 7 list candidates

5. HORSESHOE
(Hamilton, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant, Niagara, Peel, Halton)
estimated 18 local ridings
nominate 8 list candidates

6. TORONTO
(Toronto)
estimated 18 local ridings
nominate 8 list candidates

***

Option B: 9 medium-sized regions

1. NORTHERN ONTARIO
(Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay, Cochrane, Algoma, Manitoulin, Sudbury, Greater Sudbury, Timiskaming, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Muskoka)
estimated 9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

2. OTTAWA-EAST
(Renfrew, Lanark, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell, Ottawa)
estimated 8 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

3. QUINTE-LIMESTONE-KAWARTHA
(Prince Edwards, Hastings, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac, Leeds-Grenville, Northumberland, Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes)
estimated 6 local ridings
nominate 3 list candidates

4. SIMCOE-UPPER GRAND-HURON
(Perth, Wellington, Waterloo, Huron, Bruce, Grey, Dufferin, Simcoe)
estimated 10 local ridings
nominate 5 list candidates

5. SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO
(Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford)
estimated 9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

6. HAMILTON-NIAGARA
(Hamilton, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant, Niagara)
estimated 8-9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

7. YORK-DURHAM
(York, Durham)
estimated 9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

8. PEEL-HALTON
(Peel, Halton)
estimated 10 local ridings
nominate 5 list candidates

9. TORONTO
(Toronto)
estimated 18 local ridings
nominate 8 list candidates

***

Option C: 11 smaller regions

1. NORTHWEST ONTARIO
(Kenora, Rainy River, Thunder Bay)
estimated 2-3 local ridings
nominate 1-2 list candidates

2. NORTHEAST ONTARIO
(Cochrane, Algoma, Manitoulin, Sudbury, Greater Sudbury, Timiskaming, Nipissing, Parry Sound, Muskoka)
estimated 6-7 local ridings
nominate 2-3 list candidates

3. OTTAWA
(Ottawa)
estimated 6 local ridings
nominate 3 list candidates

4. EASTERN ONTARIO
(Prince Edwards, Hastings, Lennox & Addington, Frontenac, Renfrew, Lanark, Leeds-Grenville, Stormont-Dundas-Glengarry, Prescott-Russell)
estimated 7 local ridings
nominate 3 list candidates

5. CENTRAL ONTARIO
(Simcoe, Haliburton, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough, Northumberland)
estimated 7 local ridings
nominate 3 list candidates

6. HAMILTON-NIAGARA
(Hamilton, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant, Niagara)
estimated 8-9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

7. UPPER GRAND
(Wellington, Waterloo, Dufferin)
estimated 6 local ridings
nominate 3 list candidates

8. SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO
(Essex, Chatham-Kent, Lambton, Elgin, Middlesex, Oxford, Perth, Huron, Bruce, Grey)
estimated 10-11 local ridings
nominate 5 list candidates

9. YORK-DURHAM
(York, Durham)
estimated 9 local ridings
nominate 4 list candidates

10. PEEL-HALTON
(Peel, Halton)
estimated 10 local ridings
nominate 5 list candidates

11. TORONTO
(Toronto)
estimated 18 local ridings
nominate 8 list candidates

——

There’s a lot there, but its important to show that there are models out there that can be used to ensure the candidates for the lists are picked in a democratic manner similar to what we have now in our different parties nomination meetings. One other thing Greg mentioned is this: The Labour Party in New Zealand (which Greg would argue is the Liberal Party equivalent) creates its list in exactly the manner as he described above — list candidates are nominated democratically at regional conventions and the party then orders the nominees in order to meet its goals (for example, to compensate for weakness locally in certain areas, they put candidates from areas where they are traditionally weak near the top of their list). But this is done fairly — balancing men, women, and minorities (Maori) and across all regions.

As Greg says and as I’ve said before as well, there is no need to reinvent the wheel here. Being able to demonstrate exactly how it works in the same MMP system that we’re considering is the best bet of getting buy-in from the voters of Ontario. I also think that if this system was pushed for by the Party grassroots, the ongoing fear of the central executive manipulating these lists would be relieved by the implementation of this system.

Some will argue there’s no guarantee the various parties will pick this. Well, its up to the various party activists and grassroots to push for this in their respective parties. I again will argue that if a party is seen by voters to be manipulating the lists as opposed to others who are using the above or similar methods to pick their list, the offending party will almost certainly get hammered on the hustings over it, and will probably pay a pretty heavy electoral price. Between that, and with other examples out there of democratic ways to pick these list MPP’s, I think the pressure to do so here as well would be pretty intense. I dont think the various parties would have any choice but to do so. The Party Executives may try to argue that they need to retain power of appointment in certain ridings (as they do already), but again, a determined Party membership will either limit that power or prevent it from happenning.

This “fear” is the least of the arguments against MMP, in my view.

29 comments to On how the List MPP’s should be picked by the parties in an MMP system.

  • Wilf Day

    Would it make sense to nominate more than 39 list candidates? No doubt.

    In German provinces with a similar model to ours, they would generally choose to nominate about 90. In the other hand, in New Zealand the two largest parties nominated only 65 each although they have 69 local seats and another 51 list seats. But Ontario parties could nominate 129 if they were silly enough to.

    One advantage of nominating 90 is that, if the party chooses to defer some local nominations until after the regional conventions, candidates who had won a nomination at the regional conventions — where women and minorities will get a fair shake — would have an advantage in winning the local nomination.

    Of course, I like Scott's (and Greg's) Option C for the 11 regions (except I might put Perth, Huron, Bruce, Grey with Waterloo.) With 11 regions, nominating a larger number would be more feasible. A convention normally has to nominate each list position one at a time, since the ranking is vital. It could take a long time to nominate too many.
    The Ontario PC Party operates with nine regions, but I can't find their definition of them.

  • Great post, Scott and Greg.   The regions suggested under A or B would make a whole lot of sense.

    Two points.   One:  On the issue of whether there would be exactly 39 seats, it would make sense to nominate more than just 39.   This is because of "overhang," which tends to happen frequently in MMP states — such as Germany which currently has 614 seats in the Bundestag, the lower house of the Reichstag — actually 16 more than the normal maximum of 598.   This is due to the balancing that has to take place if a party wins more local seats than their percentage vote would dictate (i.e. you can't ask a local candidate to give up their seat, after all; but the other parties have to be grossed up to ensure the percentage of the popular vote is respected).

    But is that such a bad thing?   I don't think so.   It was, in retrospect, a mistake to cut the number of provincial districts a decade ago because the workload of the legislators increased overnight by 25%.    As I understand the Citizen's Assembly proposal, the overhang seats would be taken away from the other parties to ensure a maximum of 129 seats — but still, the point is, it's MMP and not FPTP.

    Second:  If we do go to a regional model (presuming MMP is adopted by the voters), would the list seats be allocated by region or province-wide?   I'd think it should be based on region to prevent "parachute" or "carpetbagger" syndrome.   As some have pointed out above, I don't think a Northerner who voted for one party would be all too happy if all the seatfillers came from "Down South" — or vice versa.   If on the other hand, there was at least a chance to have at least someone from his or her party of choice from their region, they might feel their regional interests were better represented.   As it is right now, that just doesn't happen with FPTP anyway — especially up North, where some districts are the size of entire countries.

  • Wilf Day

    "when you do get around to compiling your list, who is more important: the native guy from the Sault or the Chinese woman from Markham?"

    That is a decision for members or delegates in each party, depending how the party members nominate list candidates.

    In the system of the New Zealand Labour Party which I expect one or two parties in Ontario would use, the party's Northern Ontario convention would decide what list position to give to the native guy from the Sault, and the appropriate regional convention would decide what list position to give the Chinese woman from Markham. Then the lists would be folded together pro-rata so that about every 10th name is from the North, and so on.Since aboriginal communities in southern Ontaro are scattered, would the provincial party be able to insert a southern Ontario aboriginal candidate into the list if none won a nomination at the regional convention? A fair question, and perhaps some parties would provide for this under exceptional circumstances. I expect they will be at pains to show that their list candidates were democratically nominated, not appointed.

  • This scenario does nothing to ensure minority representation.  Unless, of course you prescribe to the regions what minorities they have to include.  Would Toronto have to appoint more minority candidates than the North?  And when you do get around to compiling your list, who is more important: the native guy from the Sault or the Chinese woman from Markham?  Regional proportionality was rejected by the CA, in spite of Mr. Morrow's thorough proposal.  One of the reasons is that minority populations are scattered across the province (unlike highly localized minority populations in other countries).  Parties are as likely to choose this option as a a dart board at head office.

  • Wilf Day

    The 103 Citizens were well aware of the option you suggest, which is basically Scotland. 

    Scotland of course has 44% list MPPs, and even that isn't enough in four of their eight regions, because when you split up a province into regions you get regional sweeps: twice, in their first two elections, Labour got a "winner's bonus" in four of the eight regions. In Ontario, the Liberals would have gotten one in Toronto, the Southwest, and the North on the 2003 votes and on the 2004 federal votes also, a persistent pattern.
     
    If you watched the Citizens make their decision, they started with the premise that they wanted as many local ridings as possible and as much proportionality as possible. That required province-wide proportionality. They could have done that with provincial lists in a Swedish-style model of jurisdiction-wide allocation followed by assignment to regions, just as the Quebec Citizens' Committee proposed. But that was not simple, and no working model exists anywhere to show that it's practical.

    The simple and practical model was New Zealand: despite the South Island having only 25% of the population, MMP has never resulted in South Islanders complaining of being shortchanged in the lists, because it has never been in any party's interest to do that. ("The South Island has a culture of defeat" is not part of their political language.) New Zealand parties make it work with their regional conventions, and the Citizens' were confident Ontario parties would do that too.

    By the way, why should a party with 2% of the vote get a seat if it's a regional party, but not if it isn't? Why do you want to reward regional parties? Isn't that one of the worst things about FPTP?

    If the threshold was 5%, I could see your point. In Scotland's first election, the Greens got only 3.6%, but their vote in the Edinburgh region ("Lothians") was high enough for one seat, their "foot in the door." But Ontario's MMP model would have given them five of Scotland's 129 seats. Isn't that good enough? Do you really want a 2% threshold like Israel?

    Incidentally, just because an MMP system uses regional lists like Scotland doesn't mean it won't have still a province-wide threshold. Scotland doesn't, but the London Assembly does, 5%, the same as the three German provinces that have regional lists.

  • Wilf…. the fact is that the GTA is a growing area, while rural and Northern areas are loosing their population at a faster rate than the GTA is grow. When you throw the system open to a province wide vote total, that does not take regional balance into account.

    Now if the MMP seats were attached directly to and given out to regions in legislation, not at the whim of parties (ie. 4 seats for Northern, 5 seats South western, 7 GTA, etc…) and that only the votes cast in those areas determined the MMP seats in that area , I think that you would have a winning proposal. Plus, under that set up, many of those smaller parties would not have their vote percentages watered down by really poor results in other regions (example: the Greens tend to do better in the GTA, and would have no problem getting to the 3% in the GTA, but when you add the rest of the province, that gets harder. This would also make it easier to get those regionally based parties into Queen's Park. Again the example of the Northern Ontario Party idea. With only 5% of the total provincial vote, they'd need to win 60% of that 5% to get an MMP seat. But if you attached those MMP seats to regions, that party would not need to get 60% of the vote in those few Northern ridings because now the fact that they are not running in 80 or so other ridings does not hurt them. So, they would only have to get 3% in those ridings (or whatever threshold if it needed to be adjusted to account for regions) to get an MMP seat.)

    Geography is something that defines a lot of our province and country, and to ignore that is to ignore the political realities that we have.

  • Wilf Day

    "70% of the province's population live in an area that makes up less that 25% of the area of the province . . . So you are going to have competiting interests."

    On the other hand, those who want raise regional fears in Toronto complain that 58% of the population of Ontario lives outside the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area  — 55% if you add the Oshawa CMA to Toronto, making the conventional GTA — so the "smart party" will appeal to the majority, and run on an anti-Toronto platform.
     
    All these fears ignore two points:

    1.  Parties aim at the marginal voters — the ones they can pick up or might lose. They are the ones that determine the outcome. Today they aim at them in swing ridings only. Under MMP they will aim at them everywhere: Toronto, other urban, rural, northern. If the majority of their support last time came from men, will they ignore women? Nonsense — if anything they will pitch their message to the women voters they need. Same with geographic communities, youth, seniors, you name it.

    2.  Looking at Ontario's large size, the 103 Citizens decided the German 50% list members was not appropriate, nor the 40%-plus found in New Zealand and Scotland. They didn't even settle in the range of 35% to 40% recommended by some political scientists. They cut the list members down to 30%, so that 70% of the legislature would still be directly accountable to geographic communities. If they had made it 40% or 50% with regional lists, would a northern list have been satisfactory? Not to the Northwest, who might still be left out. Would an Eastern Ontario list have been satisfactory? Perhaps not to Kingston and rural areas, and not to the francophone minority. We have minorities everywhere. So every geographic area still elects at least one local MPP.

  • Wilf "Concentration is no longer relevant." Of course Concentration is relevant in this situation because of the huge size of our province and the vastly un-even distribution of population. The fact is that 70% of the provinces population live in an area that makes up less that 25% of the area of the province, while the last 30% of the population lives in the other 75% of that area. The concerns and issues in that other 75% of the province is very vast and different from that area of 25%. So you are going to have competiting interests, and the smart party will play to the larger portion of the voters to win those votes.

    Concentration is more relevant in this case because  with popular vote being king, that means that you are going to court the voters where the majority of that popular vote exists. If Ontario was evenly distributed population-wise, than this wouldn't be anywhere near as much of a problem, but that's not the case. You look at New Zealand and Scotland as answers for this problem, but they are extremely small when compared to the size of Ontario. You don't have that problem in those places because, very simply, they're much smaller.

  • mushroom

    Greg,

    Where will the cabinet ministers be derived from for the brokerage parties – can they be derived from list-only candidates?

  • To be clear — I think it's important that there be both dual-listed candidates and list-only candidates on the list. The former are necessary to encourage the kind of competition that Wilf will remind us is central to MMP. But the proposal to which Scott (and I) were responding was one in which the list was created entirely from people already nominated locally. Of course, we don't know whether the local nominations or the list will be created first. In some ways, I would hope that the lists gets created first — which I suspect would give women and minorities a better chance of winning a local nomination. So, we need both dual-listed and list-only candidates on the lists.

  • Wilf Day

    Will any party decide to have no list-only candidates?

    In New Zealand, the conservative National Party has primarily local candidates on the list, with a limit of five list-only candidates to correct for under-represented groups. In Scotland the Conservative Party doesn't care about under-represented groups and puts no one on their list but local candidates.  They could still choose to get more women elected by putting locally-nominated women in every third spot on the list until they run out, making sure that those elected (in the top positions) will be more representative — but they don't.  It's a big debate in Scotland. The Liberal Democrats' convention defeated an executive recommendation for 50/50 "zippered" lists. The perils of success — in Scotland's first parliament in 1999 they elected so many women that some people started to say "where's the problem?"

    What will Ontario PCs do? I don't know.

    I expect that Liberals and New Democrats will make sure their lists allow more diverse candidates more reflective of our society to get elected — not just run — (ie more women, visible minorities, disabled, First Nations etc. in good list positions), and likely the PCs too, one way or another. The more interesting question is whether parties will postpone some local nominations until after the regional convention. That might be the best thing for women in the Liberal Party, since they may elect only a handful of list MPPs. But this is all pretty speculative at this early date. 

    "the smart party is going to focus on where the largest concentration of that vote exists." You're still thinking like a FPTP strategist. Concentration is no longer relevant. The popular vote province-wide is king. Today, you have to focus on winnable ridings where you are strong, and write off weak areas. Under MMP that is no longer the case. If you are already strong in one area, you need to make a bigger effort in the area where your party was weaker in the past and therefore has more potential voters. As Grant Robertson already explained above.

  • By the way Wilf, I know the proposal quite well, and I in fact attended the same Citizen's Assembly meeting that you did in Peterborough back in December. When you repeat the proposal, it comes off like you are assuming that I am just ignorant to the proposal itself (i'm not accusing, but that's just the feeling I got from reading it so I thought I should address it). I am concerned because I do know the proposal, and the fact is that all these things that you say "will" happen are far from being certainties because that is not the way the proposal is put together.

  • Wilf:

    I avoided discussing this because the essay was long enough as it was, but both Greg and I disagree with anything that says the list candidates be also mandated to run in the local election seats. In fact, we both outright object to it.

    If the current system is broken in that it doesn't allow more diverse candidates more reflective of our society to run (ie more women, visible minorities, disabled, First Nations etc) then any attempt to make the local and list MPP's run simultaneously does NOTHING to address that. We are merely using the same broken system of FPTP nominations  without fixing one of the major complaints of the current system.

    If any major party calls to put THAT as their way of nominating list candidates, it a) totally cuts the feet out of the argument many of us have been using to say it will give better representation to these communities, and b) You will find MMP advocates like myself and Greg dissenting from that rather horrid proposal.

  • "The CA Report says: "with the boundary lines for the 2007 Ontario election, about 10% of the districts are in the North (11 out of 107). Therefore, under the Assembly’s MMP system, the North would retain about 10% of the local districts (9 out of 90)" …. Wilf, that maybe 10% of the riding seats, but there will be 129 seats in total, giving Northern Ontario only 6% of the guaranteed seats.

    "The only top up that will happen will more than likely go towards where the power already exists, giving them more. Why would a party want to do that? How will that attract more voters?"… Wilf, once again, the fact is that Ontario's population is far from being evenly spread out. Every vote does count, but the fact remains that Southern Urban Ontario and the GTA hold the vast majority of those votes. So unless you are a party trying to win 100% of the vote, you are going to pick and choose some positions that will win you votes with some but cost you vote with others. So who are you going to try to get the votes from??? The area with about 70% of the provinces population and similar concerns, or the other 30% that is very spread out and have pretty different concerns??? The only thing that forces parties to pay attention to regional needs right now is that the seats are directly tied to areas. For example, Hamilton has been getting a lot of pre-election funding because there are many seats in play for the Liberals, and they are trying to gain/hold those seats. The fact that those seats are directly attached to that city, that city gets more attention. Under MMP, you're going to have 39 seats that are determined province wide, so the smart party is going to focus on where the largest concentration of that vote exists (why run around the province chasing a small amounts of votes in the North with funding when you can go to the GTA, spend a large amount and reach a much larger amount of voters???) and play to those voters. That is just smart politics.

  • Wilf Day

    "The only top up that will happen will more than likely go towards where the power already exists, giving them more."

    Why would a party want to do that? How will that attract more voters?

    The CA Report says: "with the boundary lines for the 2007 Ontario election, about 10% of the districts are in the North (11 out of 107). Therefore, under the Assembly’s MMP system, the North would retain about 10% of the local districts (9 out of 90)."

    Now, why would a party likely make the top 20 on its list be two from each region that has 10% of the seats, and so on? Two very practical reasons:

    1.  Every vote counts. To quote Grant Robertson of the National Farmers Union "one of the biggest contributors to the causes of the growing political irrelevance of rural and small town Ontario was Mike Harris' Fewer Politicians Act.

    It was an easy thing to suggest; who wouldn't be in favour of a few less? The problem was that it was in primarily rural areas that ridings were joined together. It used to be you had to have a coherent platform on rural/small town issues to win enough of those seats to become government. Now you can safely ignore those areas and focus on urban Ontario.

    The Ontario Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform, average citizens all, has learned more about how we vote and create government than most of us will ever want to know.

    They have recommended a new system called mixed member proportional that we will vote on in a referendum during the October provincial election. It provides a solution to the reduced interest by political parties in rural/small town Ontario.

    Under this system we will get to vote in our own ridings for our local member, but also vote for a party as well (they need not be the same). Parties will provide a list of prospective candidates and any discrepancy between the number of seats won in local ridings and the total number of votes will be made up by individuals from these lists.

    Parties that are serious about wanting to win government will provide a list that is far more representative of the province than our current MPPs are.

    Parties will have to make sure that candidates with a strong understanding of rural/small town issues are high up on the list. Whereas now parties can ignore those voters, in the proposed system they will lose seats to parties that can capture votes in these areas. It is the best way to ensure that the issues of farmers and their neighbours finally make it back onto the political agenda."
     
    2.  The List MPPs will have to serve the ridings that elected no local MPP of that party. Their voters will demand it. Now, if the Greens elect 8 MPPs they'll each have to manage to look after about 11 ridings, as happens in Germany, but major party politicians will not be that ambitious. They'll expect a manageable case load. If a party elects 45 MPPs, that's one for every pair of ridings. If the list is unbalanced, and the party wins no local seats in the North, and two List MPPs end up having to look after the entire North, each serving four or five ridings, they're going to say "who screwed up the list?"  

  • mushroom

    " Permitting dual candidacy recognizes that there can be only one winner in local ridings under a Single Member Plurality system. Candidates who have strong public support can lose local races. For example, in the 2003 Ontario election, the winning candidate in one district received 35.87% of the vote. In another district, a losing candidate received 45.16% of the vote. As this example shows, candidates who lose can actually have more support than other candidates who win."

    Wilf – Percentages are deceiving.  The losing candidate receiving 32 per cent in one riding may get a greater number of votes if he/she runs in an urban centre.  Likewise a losing candidate receiving 45 per cent of a vote may be running in a two party race in a rural region.  

    Who deserves to get in?  I say both.  How does MMP guarantee that both will be selected?  

  • Wilf… "A party that, for example, elects no local Northern MPPs will have more Northern List candidates left on the list and elected as List MPPs."  This might be possible Wilf, but where will they be on these lists??? How many candidates from other parts of the province will be ahead of them???

    The fact is that there are no guarantees for regional representation with the MMP MPP's, and it leaves it up to the parties to decide how they will use their MMP seats. The fact is that there is nothing in this proposal that guarantees that these list seats will automatically compensate any disproportionality in geography, gender, etc. The only top up that will happen will more than likely go towards where the power already exists, giving them more.

  • Wilf Day

    It's worth noting that the Citizens did not ignore this question. Their "Description of MMP" Report says:
     
    "In MMP jurisdictions, parties nominate candidates to their lists in a variety of ways. In New Zealand, there is no legal requirement for the creation of lists. The Labour Party and the National Party determine their lists at regional conventions. The lists are then assembled by a special national committee of each party."

    "The more common practice in MMP systems is for list candidates to run locally as well. In the 2002 German election, over 90% of the elected list members also ran locally. In the 2002 New Zealand election, 84% of list members ran locally. This gives these candidates more visibility and strong connections to particular areas or regions. 

    " Permitting dual candidacy recognizes that there can be only one winner in local ridings under a Single Member Plurality system. Candidates who have strong public support can lose local races. For example, in the 2003 Ontario election, the winning candidate in one district received 35.87% of the vote. In another district, a losing candidate received 45.16% of the vote. As this example shows, candidates who lose can actually have more support than other candidates who win."

    The NDP already divides Ontario into six regions (one of which is the North) for internal elections, but regional list nominations might need even more regions. New Zealand Labour has six regions, but only one-third as many people as Ontario.

    Note that if most list candidates also run locally, the list candidates elected are those in the top part of the list who missed out on local seats. A party that, for example, elects no local Northern MPPs will have more Northern List candidates left on the list and elected as List MPPs. Similarly, a party with a good balance of men and women on their list that sees more men elected locally will also see more women left on the list and elected to list seats.

    The List seats are described as compensatory, to top up the representatives of under-represented voters, but dual candidacy means the list seats also compensate automatically for any disproportionality in geography, gender, etc.

  • mushroom

    "Greg believed there are many good options out there to choose from, The best way, in his opinion, is to hold REGIONAL NOMINATION MEETINGS."
     
    I will jump in and express my skepticism to Greg's model.  This is a party decision and it depends whether the Liberals will follow through with it.  With regards to Mark's remarks, smaller parties may seek to concentrate on using a province wide list and duck out of certain local races due to pre-election coalition agreements (see May-Dion).  Note that we are dealing with 39 MPPs and the prospects of defeated constituency candidates being appointed from the list will be a point of contention of major brokerage parties given the 2/3, 1/3 split.   At the same time, there have been calls among electoral reform proponents particularly in Wales to use national or province wide lists.
    One should note also that star candidates will probably be asked to run in local constituencies as a means to enhance their legitimacy among voters.       

  • Mark… "Let's say party doesn't have prominent Northerners on their list (which I think is highly unlikely as the process outlined above will likely be adopted by all Ontario parties when MMP wins) – do you think Northerners are going to vote for them?" Okay… lets take this example and explore it. What if the party that I most agree with does not have a Northern Candidate, and I am left to choose between two or three other parties that have Northern Candidates, but platforms that I completely disagree with??? My only choices are a party that I support that doesn't support my region, or parties that I don't agree with, but will have candidates from my area that I don't agree with. That's not giving me anything to vote for either.

    I agree that FPTP is not great for  this problem, but at least with FPTP I am guaranteed a  certain level of regional representation. Under this MMP proposal, I'm not. I loose that guaranteed representation under this proposal. Read my reply to Matt above here with how I think that could be fixed.

  • Matt… "Why would a party nominate a list of province-wide candidates that ignored or gave little representation to Northern Ontario, or Southwestern Ontario, etc.?  They'd be alienating voters they are trying to attract. " This has been the past practice in this province and country, and that was with knowing that they were writing off X number of seats in the process.  How is that going to get any better when the parties don't stand to loose any seats as a result of it??? Basically all this would do it take away the risk from ignoring certain groups and regions.  Parties realize that they cannot and will not win 100% of the vote, so they make calculated choices as to whose votes they are going for, and whose they are not. That extends to regions. So if you have a region like Northern Ontario, with 5% of the vote provincially, why would come out with policies to cater to that 5% when it risks that other 95% of the vote??? The Tories are a great example of this. In the late 1990's, the ended the Spring Bear hunt in Northern Ontario, against the wishes of Northerners, but at the urging of many environmentalists and animal rights group. Harris chose to give up that 5% (knowing that he had very little support there to begin with) to go after a larger section of urban voters in Southern Ontario.  Under FPTP, there is punishment for ignoring regions, and that is not getting seats in those ridings. Under MMP, you will have an easier time winning without certain regions because there would be those 39 seats that come from province wide vote. If you're a party and really want to play to a certain region (say the GTA) and you're really popular for it, under MMP, those voters get two votes to reward you. That's more incentive to do this, not less.

    What I was getting at is that it doesn't matter how the lists are formed when it comes to regional representation because the seats are not handed out regionally. I would rather see the MMP seats get divided up by regions, and then each party would have their lists in those regions, therefore there would be no province wide party lists because those MMP seats would be attatched to a region. Therefore, Toronto votes would count towards electing Toronto based MMP candidates, Northern votes only count towards electing Northern MMP seats, etc… I think that is the best way to balance this all out. Also, I think that this would bode better for many smaller parties because those MMP votes would be attatched to specific regions and would not be watered down by a lack of support in other regions (ie. The Greens numbers are stronger in the GTA than in Northern Ontario, so by having those MMP seats attached regionally, the percentage of Green votes in that Toronto region would be higher (when compared to the province wide vote), giving them a better chance to winning an MMP seat. That would give a much better representation of the wishes of the voters, and it would take care of this whole issue of these MMP MPP's not being directly elected, because they could point to that specific geographic region that elected them).

  • Cam,
    I don't get it. From reading your posts and comments on the issue of electoral reform, it appears that you think that there has been a historical trend of "ignoring certain regions". So clearly, there's something with first-past-the-post that doesn't work for regions of the province.

    But I don't get why MMP would be any worse? I just can't see why giving Northerners a vote that counts every time is going to hurt their legislative representation. Let's say party doesn't have prominent Northerners on their list (which I think is highly unlikely as the process outlined above will likely be adopted by all Ontario parties when MMP wins) – do you think Northerners are going to vote for them?

  • Cam, I disagree that legislation is necessary to ensure that lists have regional balance.  By leaving it up to parties to decide how to nominate their province-wide candidates, a healthy competition is created forcing all parties to develop the best possible lists.  Competition is a great incentive to do something.  Thus if one party nominates a list with good gender, regional and ethnic balance, it will have an advantage over other parties that don't.   No parties during elections want to alienate any voters if they can easily avoid doing so.  Why would a party nominate a list of province-wide candidates that ignored or gave little representation to Northern Ontario, or Southwestern Ontario, etc.?  They'd be alienating voters they are trying to attract.   I simply don't buy the argument that parties will alienate voters when they can easily avoid doing so.  Parties are vote-winning machines, not vote-losing machines.  I think the punishments for ignoring certain regions on the list would be very real, whereas there are virtually no punishments for parties that ignore certain regions now under First-Past-The-Post.   If they win without that region, they can keep on winning without them.

  • While this answer is quite thorough, there is still a flaw with the regional representation here. That is simply it is left up to the parties to decide if regions get those MMP seats, it's not legislated that those seats are given to specific regions. So the representation of smaller, lower-populated regions is left up to the whim and largese of the parties. Under that set up, the historical trend of ignoring certain regions would be more likely to continue because there would be less of a punishment for doing it.

    If these MMP seats were formally attatched to these regions, regardless of the set-up, I would more than likely be able to get behind it. But sadly, this proposal is not set up that way.

  • ALW

    There's no incentive for a party to adopt a system that gives more power to local members.  If you are going to say "but voters can punish them", then ask yourself whether they punish parties which, oh I dunno, currently appoint candidates over the wishes of the local party members.  Of course they don't.  And trying to set up a system which mimics the local nomination process isn't the answer anyway, since that system is largely a farce, where ethnic communities or church groups or other special interests with instant memberships often stack out meetings much to the chagrin of loyal, activist party members.  True, you could argue that at least this is a change to the currently-broken system.  But my point is that if it just replicates the same problem that makes the existing system broken, I don't count that as much of an improvement.

    (Oh, and I naturally object to the "women and minorities" comment as I object to all forms of arbitrary idenitity politics.  Nothing burns me more than the notion that only people of a certain gender or race can represent the views of their "class".)

  • I don't get too many compliments from Aaron on my posts; I'm goign to write the date and time down for posterity reasons… it probably wont happen too often 🙂

  • Indeed, I should have said, Scott, that the above # of nominations are the minimums. As Mark says, parties will most likely want to nominate more.  For example, in the 2005 New Zealand election (which has 69 local and 51 list seats = 120 total, though they allow overhangs which sometimes adds 1 or 2 more), Labour nominated 74 list candidates,  National had 65, ACT had 59, Greens had 57, Maori had 51, NZ First had 40, and so on. So parties that expect to win many local seats (in our case, the Liberals and PCs, to a lesser extent the NDP) will want longer lists to ensure that if most of their local members get elected, they still have people left to fill any list seats (but of course, if they win most of the local seats, they wouldn't win list seats, so practically speaking, you only need a list that is slightly more than the number of list seats available.). You certainly don't need more than 50% more, so in Ontario, we're probably talking about lists that have 50-55 people. So each region might nominate a couple extras.

  • Great post Scott!

    One small quibble though. There's no reason parties would have to limit the length of their lists to 39 candidates. In fact, doing so could very well mean that parties run out of list candidates should their high-ranked candidates do well in local races (which is not unreasonable, after all they would likely be the most popular candidates inside their respective parties).

    For example, New Zealand only has 52 list seats, but both Labour and National make a candidate list much longer than 52 names.

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