Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Quickie: Labour Split and Official Opposition

The media has been putting forward some question as to who becomes the Official Opposition should Labour split.

Lets take an extreme example. Lets say, first off, that a Labour MP resigns. That makes the math a bit easier.

Next, lets say the party split. Not in half, but three ways. One faction has 77 members, one has 76, and one has 75.

Who is the official opposition?

Very simple.
The one with 77 seats.

The UK uses the same westminster system we do. The largest party that is not the government is the official opposition. If you have one more seat than the official opposition, and your party is not the government; congratulations, you are the new official opposition.

It does not matter if you contested the last election or how many people voted for you. All that matters is how many seats you currently have.

It really is just that simple.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Quickie: European Union Languages

There are some reports that the EU plans to drop English as an official language when the UK leaves, on the grounds that once that happens, no country in the EU will speak English. A short time later, they added that Ireland, a country in the EU that speaks English, will have the ability to veto this.

People are saying this is petty and "mean spirited". I wanted to look at the math to see if that is true. As such, I've developed 4 different numbers that we can use to look at language in europe.
Note that people can speak multiple languages, as such, this will add to over 100%.

Language name
Population that speaks the language in the current EU
Population that speaks the language without the UK, or Ireland
Share of the above
Share of population that speaks the language outside of the main language nations*

*This means any country that speaks, for example, German as a native tongue is disincluded. As such only countries where other 'smaller' languages are the main language are included in this number.








Given the scale of the use of English across the EU, even outside the British Isles, it is clear that any such a move would indeed be petty and mean spirited.

Quickie: Australian Election Prediction

At this time my current prediction for Australia is as follows:

75 - LNP
67 - LAB
3 - NXT
2 - IND
2 - GRN
1 - KAP

32 - LNP
27 - LAB
8 - GRN
3 - NXT
2 - LAM
1 - LD
1 - KAT
1 - NAT
1 - FFP

Monday, June 27, 2016

Spanish Election Results

137 - PP - 33.03% (conservative) [+14, +4.32%]
85 - PSOE - 22.66% (social democrat) [-5, +0.66%]
71 - UP - 21.10% (hard left) [+-0, -3.39%]
32 - Cs - 13.05% (centrist) [-8, -0.89%]

Boosting PP is the fact that they won an outright majority in the Senate.

News is that the UP accepts PP is in the drivers seat. In addition, PSOE has agreed either to outright support, or at least abstain, in a vote to allow PP to form a government. PSOE, however, has said they want to remain in opposition. PP meanwhile, has said they are going to approach PSOE to talk about forming a coalition.

In short, it looks like we will see a government lead by PP that will last for a least a year, if not more. While I have my doubts that they can work out a grand coalition, there does seem to be a willingness to allow PP to govern, and not repeat the need for an election. As such, things are likely somewhat settled in Spain until 2017 at least, by which time the polls may have changed enough to allow for a government that can command a majority.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Spanish Election Update

Results are still coming in, but with over two thirds of the vote counted, we have the following results:

135 - PP
89 - PSOE
72 - UP
29 - Cs

This election was called because a majority could not be cobbled together. No 3 party coalition was workable.

PP Cs tried to form a coalition but failed.
PSOE and UP also suggested a coalition could  be formed.

PP and PSOE tried as well, but this caused PSOE to nearly tear itself apart.

Sadly, this is what we have

176 needed for majority
164 = PP + Cs (up from 163)
161 = PSOE + UP (down from 163)

As such, we end up right back where we started.

The good news is this sort of thing has happened before, and it resulted in a grand coalition being formed. I can't recall where off the top of my head, but will post this to get the numbers out, and edit in the links later.

Quickie: EU and crises

I made a list of EU countries in some kind of "Crisis". I've been very liberal with the definition of crisis however, as well as very liberal with how long a crisis can last.

Germany - Refugee
UK - Brexit
France - Political
Italy - Economic
Spain - Political and Economic
Poland - Political
Netherlands - Possible Nexit
Belgium - Political (old, but core problems still exist)
Greece - Refugee, Possible Grexit, and Economic
Portugal - Economic (old, but core problems still exist)
Hungary - Political
Sweden - Political (old, but core problems still exist)
Austria - Refugee
Denmark - Possible Dexit
Finland - Economic
Ireland - Economic (old, but core problems still exist)
Lithuania - Russia
Latvia - Russia
Estonia - Russia
Cyprus - Turkey
Luxembourg - Corruption (old, but core problems still exist)

And EU countries not currently in Crisis:

Czechia (click here for name)

I've added links to each crisis.

Spanish Election

Not much analysis, but here are some basic numbers from a prediction:

120 PP -3
90 UP +19
80 PSOE -10
40 Cs +-0
9 ERC +3
6 CDC -2
5 PNV -1
0 Oth -6

UP, PSOE, and ERC would be able to form a majority, if these numbers hold. UP is the successor the Podemos movement, the new far-left party.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Brexit, the day after.

Northern Ireland
Projection +12
Result +12

Projection +8
Result +23

Projection +4
Result -5

England (without london)
Projection -14
Result -11*

Projection +20
Result +20

*4 results left to count

Turnout did not play out as expected, and Wales turned. Scotland also was stronger Remain than I expected, but this was offset by turnout in England outside London.

In the end I feel it was the turning of Wales that made most of the difference. Even if Wales had not turned, leave would still have won, but if Leave had won only in England outside London, I feel that it would have made it a much less legitimate win.

I'm finding it difficult to find words to explain everything, so I'll simply outline where I feel things will go from here.

Cameron has only two roads. One is to resign and allow Boris Johnson to become PM. The other is to try to negotiate a new deal and hold another referendum. The problem is the EU has made it clear the latter is a no no. They do not want the nations playing referendum games to negotiate better deals. Cameron, as such, will be gone within a few days, and Johnson will become PM.

The margin in Scotland was different enough, and the end result close enough, that Scotland will have another referendum, and I don't see how they remain in the UK. As such, Scotland will become an Independent country.

With Scotland leaving, and the UK leaving the EU, and the chances of border controls, I could see problems in Northern Ireland. Worst case scenario is this ends in violence. Hopefully some kind of deal will be worked out, but, for now, I'm skipping predictions on the future of Northern Ireland.

The latest for all this to begin is after the German elections in the fall of 2017. This would set in motion the 2 years of chapter 50, meaning the UK would withdraw prior to January 1st 2020.

I'd like to address January 1st 2020

On that date we will see a very different Northern Ireland. It may be part of Ireland, it may be part of Scotland even; it may simply remain under the crown, or, it may be ruled in some kind of condominium deal between London and Dublin.

On that date we see an independent Scotland. It is part of the European Union. It uses the Euro as it's currency, though not happily, but this was part of the deal. It essentially takes over part of the UK's old position. I could see some physical offices remaining in their physical location, but with Scottish flags not British flags out front.

And lastly, the biggest new addition is the "Kingdom of England and Wales". Possibly with Northern Ireland tacked on, but I have my doubts. "England and Wales" will become a 'thing' and people will need to get used to saying it. Start now.
England and Wales will basically take over the UK's position on world bodies like the UK and the all important Veto. England and Wales will basically take over the UK's position on prestiged. I could even see a new perhaps unfortunate .ew added to the internet.

This is the future as I see it.

The world has changed.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Live brexit update 6

FINAL Projection Update. I've been avoiding this as long as I can, but I understand the numbers too well, and can no longer honestly justify putting this off to myself any longer. REMAIN 49% /// 51% LEAVE.
Scotland will remain in the EU as an Independent country, and a very high chance of Northern Ireland either joining Ireland outright, or becoming some kind of condominium ruled jointly by the Republic of Ireland and the Kingdom of England & Wales. Unfortunately, significant terrorism becomes a real possibility in the area.
There will be no more updates on this tonight. I hope I am wrong, but with the numbers I am seeing, I can't justify continuing to project a Remain victory. I am not here to lie to you about the numbers. The pound has dropped from $1.50 US down to $1.34. Oil is down from $50.0 to $47.5. The FTSE is projected to lose between 5% and 10% tomorrow, and the Dow is expected to drop at least 3%. With the fires in Alberta, and these problems, it's safe to say Canada will enter a recession as well.
Lastly, we will now be looking at a split in the western world between English speakers and non-English speakers, with the latter being in Europe and the former, not.

Live brexit update 5

Updated Projection: Remain 50.1% // 49.9% Leave.
Scottish independence referendum if leave wins, which would result in an independent scotland, which would stay in the EU. If leave wins. Leave still projected to lose, by about 60K votes.

Live brexit update 4

Updated Projection: Remain 50.5% // 49.5% Leave

Live brexit update 3

Things are going very poorly for remain. The overwhelming majority of results have them a few points behind where they need to be. Things are not going well for remain at all right now.

Updated Projection: Remain 51.0% /// 49.0% Leave

Live brexit update 2

With nearly 10% of the regions in

Updated Projection: Remain 52% /// 48% Leave

Live brexit update 1

We've seen 4 data points (results) 3 of which are stronger for leave than expected. Additionally, Northern Ireland turnout is low, and I had presumed it would not be. As such I'm updating my projection for the final result.

Projection: Remain 53% /// 47% Leave

Brexit Referendum Day


London +20
NornIre +12
Scotland +8
Wales +4
England -14 (without london)

Overall, I'm still looking at a 54-46 lead for Remain, and expect Remain to thus 'easily' win.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016


At this time, I am projecting a 54%-46% victory for Remain.

When the referendum started in earnest, about 2-3 months ago, I had my peg at 54-46. That started inching towards 53-47 on May 22nd. On June 18th, I updated to 52-48. However, since then, the polls have swung back, causing me to update to 53-47 on the 19th, and now back to 54-46.

London and Scotland will both vote Remain by healthy margins. Wales and Northern Ireland will vote to remain by smaller margins. Some parts of England will vote to Remain, parts of the southeast, as well as some cities; but many rural areas in England will be swinging towards the Leave side. As a result, many more seats will be pro-Leave then pro-Remain.

Should things go the other way and Remain win, Scotland will likely not quit the UK over it. Scotland is too divided. We can expect something like a 60-40, or even 65-35 split. We'd need at least a 70-30 split before Scotland would consider leaving over it. Remember too that polls show a third of more of SNP voters are Leave voters. We'd need that figure closer to 85% to cause Scotland to leave.

Otherwise it's just a matter of waiting to see what happens next.

Just a quick note on the murder of MP Cox. I do not believe this will have a massive impact on the result. The largest numbers impact from my perspective is that I'm upping to 54 today and not tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

A US Parliament

I recently came across this graphic

And it got me thinking what a US Parliament might actually look like.

First off, it would not look like the graphic above. Sanders, for example, was able to get support from those opposed to Clinton taking the nomination, as well as more traditionally pro-labour and social democrat forces. Trump is also doing well among all brands of conservatism who want to see an end to the Obama era.

So I decided to eliminate the job of President and create the job of Prime Minister. I also abolished the Senate just to keep things nice and simple. This leave us with our 435 member House of Representatives, which will be elected based on pure proportional representation, in a single nationwide electoral district. There is a 5% threshold, meaning you won't see parties with under 22 seats.

I also decided that while I'll keep all the US government decisions roughly the same (IE no retconning WW2) that I will consider that the US has had a Parliament since it's founding, with elections in each year a real Presidential election took place.

So I'll jump right to the results of this coming 2016 election, and explain what the heck is happening in it.

The two largest parties are the Liberals and Conservatives. These are the old Democratic and Republican parties, with new colours, to better match how political parties are coloured in Europe. They were first elected to a coalition in 1944, when the existing Liberal-Progressive coalition, lost their majority. Since then, the two parties have always had a majority, and have always chosen to use that majority in coalition. Conservatives are, in some ways, closer to the Liberals than they are to either the Christians or the American Party (nationalists). This is also known as the "post war consensus"

Consider that in reality, the Conservatives, Libertarians (as shown here), Christians, and Nationalists are all within the Republican Party. Also consider that the number of non-Conservatives within that party is huge, and you can see why the party decided to break with the post war consensus in 1994. Our real Republican Party has fewer Conservatives in it, due to the influence of the "Tea Party", which, leads me to some history.

You can easily trace back the Progressives to the early socialist and pro-labour movements. That party is over 100 years old. The Liberals meanwhile, are about 200 years old, give or take, and can be traced back all the way to the Whig Party, and to the populist ideals of Andrew Jackson. The Conservatives have been around for 300 years, prior to the US even becoming a country. The newer parties include the Nationalists, who rose to prominence  in the 1800s before fading away, and failing to pass the threshold for a number of elections. They returned during WW2 with the rise in patriotism, later strengthened by the campaign of it's leader, George Wallace, in 1968, and have been a presence ever since. The two newest parties are the Christians, who first passed the threshold in 1960 as a response to catholic JFK's attempt to become elected Prime Minister. The newest party is the Libertarians, who passed the mark in 1976, out of a feeling that Nixon was too liberal, and that Liberal Leader Jimmy Carter would only make things worse.

One thing we do not see in this Parliament is the famous US Tea Party. Why not? Well in reality our version of the Tea Party is a combo of two movements, the libertarian movement within the Republican Party, and the christian right. In this Parliament these two parties are separate, and as such, there is limited room for famous Tea Party candidates like Bachmann or Cruz, who both sit on the line between the two parties.

On the flip side we see the problem with Obama, who sits on the line between the Liberals and the Progressives. Again, in US politics as we have come to know them, this is a key to success, as you can tap into both movements, but in this new Parliament, it's quite likely that such people would find it hard to become party leader in the first place.

As a result, for the past 30 years, each election has seen the total won by the governing coalition shrink and shrink, as more and more American are dis-satisfied with government itself. The largest third party is the Progressives, and they are also the fastest growing, but the Conservatives are the fastest shrinking party as more and more of their voters leave to support parties further on the right. These people want a Nationalist security policy, Libertarian taxes, and a Christian society.

Such is the situation of this US Parliament. Given the divides in the Conservative Party, the end result is that Hillary Clinton is elected as Prime Minister.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Australia: first prediction

A quick update on Australia where I've dug a bit into the polls and have a projection for the lower house. It is as follows:

LNP - 71
LAB - 71
NXT - 3
IND - 2
GRN - 2
KAP - 1

LAB gains:
La Trobe

NXT gains:

GRN Gains:

I am working on an upper house projection, but this is much more difficult. Canadians are spoiled when it comes to political polls, it's very easy to find province by province breakdowns for any federal poll, while I've had a hell of a time finding similar data from just about any country. If I can find a proper Australian poll, I'll produce a prediction for the Senate as well.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Quickie: electoral reform and Conservatives vs conservatives.

In 1974, the PC Party took 35% of the vote.
In 1979, this jumped to 36%
In 1980, this fell to 32%
1984 saw a spike to 50%

After this, we saw the rise of the Reform Party. As such, for the next few elections, I am going to compare the combined vote total.

In 1988 the two parties took 45% of the vote, combined. Down 5% from the 1984 PC numbers.
1993, when the Liberals won government, saw this drop to a combined 35%
1997 saw this rise to 38%
2000 saw this hold at 38%

Meanwhile the two parties merged

2004 saw the number dip to 30%, it's lowest share we've yet looked at.
2006 saw it bump to 36%, more traditional levels, but below the average from 1988-2002
2008 saw this rise to 38%
2011 saw a strong showing of 40%
and finally, in 2015, we saw a dip down to 32%

My point?
If you adopt an electoral system that eliminates splitting the vote, things can be very good for small-c conservative parties. Two parties can, and I argue would, likely form a government. 

Electoral reform is not bad for conservatives.
It's bad for the Conservative Party.
And I don't reforms being bad for any particular party a reason to avoid it. 

The future under electoral reform

In 1978, New Zealand went to the polls. Changes were made to the way voters were registered and enrolled. The winning National Party took 51 seats on 39.8% of the vote, while Labour, who only took 40 seats, took 40.4% of the vote. Social Credit, the traditional third party, took 1 seat on 16% of the vote.

In 1981, National won 47 seats on 38.8% of the vote, while Labour won 43 seats on 39.0%. Social Credit managed 2 seats on 20.7% of the vote.

In 1984, a new party, the NZ Party, was formed. They were seen as libertarian and many saw them as splitting the National vote. Labour won that election with 56 seats on 43% of the vote, while National took 37 on 36% and the NZ Party took 12%. Social Credit, kept their 2 seats, but fell to 8% of the vote.

The 1987 election saw Labour win again, 57 seats on 48% of the vote, while National took 40 seats on 44% of the vote. Social Credit, now called the Democratic Party, lost all their seats and took only 6% of the vote.
Labour promised to hold a referendum on electoral reform, but, never did. National attacked the government, saying that it would do real electoral reform if elected.

1990 saw National win big. 67 seats on 48% of the vote, compared to Labour's 29 seats on 35%. The Greens came to the fore, and despite not winning any seats, took 7% of the vote. NewLabour, founded by a renegade Labour MP, took 1 seat, on 5% of the vote.
National carried out it's commitment to electoral reform, and a referendum was held in 1993.

The 1993 election saw National win 50 seats on 35.1% of the vote, while Labour won 45 seats on 34.7% of the vote. The Alliance, a left-wing party founded by NewLabour, took 2 seats, on 18.2% of the vote, while NZ First, founded by a renegade National MP, took 2 seats on 8.4% of the vote. A Labour MP served as Speaker, allowing National to carry a majority.
The 1993 Referendum meanwhile, was a three-stage process. First, in 1992, a vote was held on weather to retain the existing FPTP system, or to change it. 85% of voters decided they wanted to change it. Second, later in 1992, the four other options outlined in my previous post were put to the voters. 8% of voters decided to spoil their ballots in this round, which is interpreted as support for FPTP. 6% chose Parallel, while 7% chose a Ranked Ballot. 17% wanted STV, while the overwhelming majority chose fill-up MMP Proportional Representation system. Due to the high number of spoiled ballots, there was pressure to hold another vote, and alongside the 1993 election, a referendum was held. MMP vs FPTP. The result was much closer, with MMP defeating FPTP by a vote of 54% to 46%. As a result, the next election would be proportional.

What is interesting is not what happened in the following election, in 1996, but what happened between 1993 and 1996. MPs jumped ship from the major parties. 9 MPs left National and 4 left Labour, leaving both parties with 41 seats by the time of the 1996 election. 4 of the National MPs and 3 of the Labour MPs joined forces to create the United Party. Two National MPs and a Labour MP joined New Zealand First. Two National MPs created and joined a new Conservative Party, while one of them later quit to become an Independent, and lastly, a National MP founded the Christian Democrats.

As a result, the number of Parties in Parliament rose from 4 to 7.

Voting patterns also changed. In the 1996 election itself, the results were as follows. Note that NZ went from 99 to 120 MPs during the transition.

44 - 33.9% - National
37 - 28.2% - Labour
17 - 13.4% - NZ First
12 - 10.1% - Alliance
8 - 6.1% - ACT
1 - 0.88% - United

Neither the Conservative nor Christian parties won seats, and ACT, a new libertarian-leaning party, managed 8 seats.

Changing the voting system changed the way people consider voting. No longer did you have to vote for one of the two major parties to stop the other, but you could vote for a party you actually wanted. As a result, not only did voters, but MPs themselves changed their political behavior.

This has consequences for Canada depending on what system we choose.

First Past The Post
Sticking with the current system will, of course, see the least impact. Our parties stay right where they are, and nothing much happens.

Ranked Ballots
There is one major change that I see happening quite easily under this system. Australia has been using Ranked Ballots for quite some time, and it's two major parties are, in fact, three. The right-wing Liberal Party of Australia has been in permanent coalition with the smaller and further-right National Party. This coalition is standard in the states of New South Wales and Victoria, and remains even at times of opposition, or when the Liberals win a majority on their own. In Queensland, the two parties merged outright. In Tasmania, the Nationals never had a branch, and in the Northern Territory, the Liberals had always been seen as stepping back to allow the Nationals to be the only power in the area. While South Australia and Western Australia do see cracks in the traditional coalition, the idea of two right-wing parties working together while remaining separate is not seen as insanity.

As a result, with the Conservative Party moving towards are more socially moderate view, I can easily see a move to Ranked Ballots causing a few MPs to break off from the Tories (especially if someone like Michael Chong wins the leadership) and form a new socially conservative right-wing party. It's likely this party could win seats in parts of Canada, and even if they do not, they could still exert pressure on the Conservatives by demanding policy concessions in exchange for endorsing the party as the #2 choice on ballot papers.

I don't see any other parties popping up as a result of this.

Single Transferable Vote
Like above, we could see a new right-wing party spring up. What is more interesting is that depending on riding sizes, we could see more options. With ridings that have about 7 MPs each, a party only needs roughly 15% of the vote to elect a member. This could lead, for example, to both right-wing and left-wing sovereigntist parties in Quebec, as they can share preferences with one another in areas where one is weak. As well we could see the rise of "Big Independents" - Candidates who are strong enough to get elected on their name as non-partisans, who have 'big' personalities; an example from Ireland would be Jackie Healy-Rae, who was later joined (and replaced by) his son, who, in the last election, took enough vote to elect three Healy-Rae members to the Parliament (only two ran). This could also give birth to small parties based around a single person like Nick Xenophon in Australia. I personally predict that if we move to this system, folks like Giorgio Mammoliti would run federally.

In terms of actual parties, we are still unlikely to see much more beyond a socially conservative party pop up. The biggest difference is that such a party would be guaranteed seats in socially conservative areas of Canada.

The biggest change we'd likely see, beyond the new party, is that the vote share for the old major parties will decrease. Voters will be far more likely to experiment with other parties as their first choice, and as a result, we will see parties like the Greens, doubling if not tripling their vote totals.

Parallel Proportional Representation
The key here is what system is used to elect the MPs still in ridings. If it's FPTP, we may not see as much change as we would otherwise, but if we decide that riding MPs will now be elected by Ranked Ballot, this will encourage the birth of a socially conservative party. Also important is just how many Proportional MPs are elected. Will they make up 10% of the new assembly or 50%?

Assuming a fairly restrictive system, say FPTP and a third of MPs, it's still possible we could see the rise of a socially conservative alternative, but in reality, we are probably looking at our current parties remaining, and the biggest change being a doubling of the vote for the Green Party, but only on the proportional ballot.

Proportional Representation
This system opens the floodgates and is almost certain to cause changes to our political parties. Not only is a socially conservative party almost guaranteed, but a libertarian party as well. It's quite possible that existing parties can play that role, as we have a Christian Heritage, and a Libertarian party in this country. Depending on the path the NDP takes, we could even see a new left-wing party rise. The Liberals, right now, are doing a good job at balancing their own politics, but this is unlikely to last forever. Over the long-term we could well see a blue-liberal party pop up, as well as a party trying to position itself between the Liberals and NDP.

PR means much more fluidity in party support. While we have had parties come from nowhere only to vanish quickly, this has been rare. PR means that this will happen more often, and a number of "single-election" parties could come into being and disappear.

Any change to the way we vote has the real potential to change our parties themselves. At the biggest risk is the Conservatives, who are vulnerable to a "de-merger" should a system be created that ensures splitting the vote is no longer an issue. On the flip side, we also open ourselves up to options not considered. Take for example a Bloc Quebecois on the rise again under STV. Vote transfers may not be enough to stop them, and we might see a new Federalist party rise in Quebec, forming a coalition with whomever happens to win English Canada. Take for example a Parallel system where a new party decides not to run in any ridings, and rather, only run for the parallel seats, thus making vote splitting impossible.

The possible changes are quite massive, and we likely won't realize all the different ways that things can play out for at least two decades after we take the leap.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Electoral Reform - the 5 major proposals

There are 5 major proposals for electoral reform in Canada, as I see it, and I will detail them, below.

First Past The Post
The default and status quo option is to keep out current system. For those not in the know, FPTP works as follows:

The country is divided into smaller chunks known as "ridings" that are roughly equal in population. Each riding elects one member. The election method is that every voter gets one ballot, and marks an X beside the candidate they most want to win. When the ballots are counted, whatever candidate has the most votes, wins the riding, and becomes the MP.

This is perhaps the simplest election method, which is why it is so widespread in history. The problem comes when you have more than two candidates running as someone can win with under 50% of the vote. Imagine if you will a riding where 65% of voters want someone named Jean to be their MP. There are three candidates, Jean Smith, Jean Beliveau, and Bob Menendez. Smith gets 32% of the vote, while Beliveau gets 33%. Menendez however gets 35% of the vote. Despite the fact that 65% of the riding want a Jean as MP, they get a Bob instead.

The Tories and to a degree the Bloc support this system. Both pretty much for the same reason, there are far more federalist or progressive parties out there than there are either conservative or sovereigntist parties. FPTP is the best system to maximise CPC and BQ seats.

This system is used in the USA and UK.

Ranked Ballot
Also known as Single-Member STV, the Alternative Vote, Instant Runoff Voting, and the Preferential Ballot. The general thinking is the Liberals want this method.

In this method, you divide the country into ridings like you do in FPTP, but the voting and counting is different. Rather than simply marking an X beside the candidate you want to win, you rank the candidates you want to win 1, 2, 3, and so on. When counting the ballots, you only find a winner when someone has 50%+1 of the vote. To get there, you remove the least popular candidate and redistribute his votes based on additional preferences.

This is usually one of the go-to systems for those looking for something more fair. The problem comes with the fact that you end up with a result where you do not pick a winner based on who everyone wants, but based on who everyone does not want. People will rank candidates lower if they want to stop them from being elected, meaning that moderate candidates who are inoffensive have a higher chance of winning, even if few really want them elected.

Such a system would generally benefit the Liberals, especially early on. After a few elections with this system it's quite possible we would eventually see Tories and New Democrats preferencing one another to stop the Liberals from winning. Regardless, if any party is to see a boost from a changed voting system, this is the system expected to best boost the Liberals.

This system is used for house elections in Australia, and has been used in various provinces at various times (Manitoba from 1927-1953 for example)

Single Transferable Vote
This is the Multi-Member variant of STV, and is traditionally what is meant when people say STV. This system is also known as "BC-STV"

In this method, you divide the country into chunks that we will still call "ridings". Each riding need not be equal in population. When it comes time to vote, every voter still gets one ballot like in the Ranked Ballot, and they rank them 1, 2, 3, and so on, however, when it comes time to count, things are done differently. Each riding elects multiple members. The method to get there is a bit complex so I'll skip it for now, but be aware the results are 'a bit proportional' with some caveats. Generally each riding in a STV system will elect between 3 and 9 members.

These systems tend to balance the desire for local representation - something that many voters in countries moving away from FPTP are afraid of losing - with the desire for proportional representation - since nearly every riding in this system will have MPs from multiple parties. The major problem with this system is that it does neither of these as well as other systems, and the fact that you can secretly gerrymander the system by adjusting the number of MPs elected per riding to best advantage your own party.

From what I can calculate, this is actually the best system for the NDP, because it allows for Liberal and Green votes to transfer. On the math, it's likely that an STV would cause the largest number of NDP MPs to be elected based on any given popular vote share. Despite this, the NDP does not currently back this as their prefered system.

This system is used in Ireland, and for Senate elections in Australia.

Parallel Proportional Representation
This is sort of a "hold over" system I've included to represent various adjustments that can be done to PR to make it more possible to achieve majority governments. This entry is intended to represent all such adjustments, of which, Parallel is just one.

In this method, you do not need any ridings for the proportional seats, though, many countries will use various electoral districts (such as states or provinces) to help keep things at least minimally local. Other places do still create ridings, very large ridings (with 10 or more members) to achieve this purpose. This is a mixed-member system, meaning that you still have single-member ridings electing MPs, but you also add the MPs elected proportionally to that total to help create a more proportional result. The proportional MPs are elected based on the proportion of votes each party gets.

This is the weakest version of real proportional representation that can be adopted and is often looked at by countries where there is a desire to fix the problems with FPTP, but where there is a strong aversion to creating an endless string of minority governments. The major problem with this system is that it is not fully proportional, and as such, is unlikely to be the "first choice" of a voting system by many voters. The main 'benefit' of this system is that it is a compromise, which is also its greatest drawback. It's difficult to look at this system positively for that reason.

No one party stands to gain the most from this system, but all parties do stand to gain in one particular way; no longer will there be swaths of the country without MPs from major parties. If such a system had been in place historically, we'd have seen Quebec NDP MPs for decades, and the Reform Party would have had a small number of MPs from the Atlantic in 1993.

This system is used in Japan and Mexico.

Proportional Representation
When used in the context of current electoral discussions here in Canada, PR generally refers to one system, FUMMPPR, or Fill Up Mixed Multi Member Proportional.

Like the above PR system, you still use ridings, and add proportional members to that. Unlike the above, the proportional MPs are not assigned based on vote totals alone, but based on vote totals minus the number of seats already won in the ridings. While this sounds complex (and can be complex) the simple way to explain it is that if a party takes 40% of the vote, it's final end total will see it win 40% of the seats in Parliament. Everything else in the system is just math to ensure that this will ring true at the end of the day.

The reason to move to such a system is simple, to ensure that parliament looks similar to the vote totals as cast by the voters in the last election. The biggest drawback is that this will almost always mean that no one party can obtain a majority; which has time and time again been shown to be the biggest concern of Canadians when it comes to electoral reform.

The Green Party likely has the most to gain from this system, and the party supports it. Additionally, the NDP is currently pushing for this. Recently, after the Liberals changed the makeup of the committee that will look at electoral reform, there has been some thought among some that the Liberal Party may be willing to look at this system as well.

This system is used in Germany and New Zealand.

Our next election will all but certainly be held using one of these systems. Parallel systems, as noted, are adopted to allow for majorities, and, in fact, Japan has had a healthy string of majorities since it's adoption of a parallel system in the 90's. There are other 'variants' that one can add to PR to make it more friendly to majorities. Italy for example simply gives the winning party 55% of the seats, even if that party does not take 50%+1 of the nation-wide vote. Greece awards number of free seats to the winning party, meaning that about 40% of the vote will result in a majority. It's quite possible that such a variant may be looked at here as well.

In my next post I will look at what may happen if we move to the systems outlined above.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Quickie: Would Trump be a disaster?


That's the simple answer. No.

Trump would be like Rob Ford. Trump would be able to do some things, but would be reigned in from doing the more crazy things. Trump would have some support in Congress (and if he wins the election, it's likely the GOP will have control over both houses) but that support will not stick with him if he tries to do some of the more radical proposals on his agenda.

Most importantly, however, and what differentiates Trump from Rob Ford, is that Trump says whatever the heck he feels like. I have no doubt that Trump's "Muslim Ban" will end up looking a lot more like "A ban of muslims from entering the country if they've spent X amount of time in any of Y countries" and that his "Wall" with mexico will amount to "An upgrade to the existing fencing along the Mexican border"

Put simply; you can't base what a Trump presidency will be based on what he says he will do. You can only base it on what he's actually done, and been willing to do, and based on that, he will not stand out as 'the only crazy' in the list of Presidents should be win.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Quickie: Risks to the major parties

Reading this article has spurred a thought in my mind that I wish to share.

Each major party has a risk right now that could hurt that party's chance of future success.

The NDP's biggest risk is being irrelevant and useless. What good, after all, is a "progressive party" when we already have one of those? What is the use of a party that can win in Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver, when a party that can do the same already forms government?

The NDP needs some fresh ideas, and by that, I mean controversial ideas. Look at the backlash against the current healthcare system when the NDP introduced it in Saskatchewan. Consider as well the role the NDP had in securing pension indexing, a costly but currently popular program.

If the NDP is unwilling to say something unpopular the party may well vanish into the mists of time, being replaced as the left-wing protest party by the Greens.

The Tories risk is being seen as out of date and out of touch. The old PC Party suffered from this from time to time and it always hurt the party electorally.

Fortunately, unlike the NDP, the party has already taken real concrete steps towards ensuring this does not happen, voting, at convention, to support same sex marriage, and even decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana.

Failing to continue in this direction can easily lead to a long stint on the opposition benches.

The Liberals problem is that of leadership. Last long-lasting Liberal governments have tended to fall apart over the same issue, poor leadership. Consider Paul Martin, John Turner, or the Pipeline Debate of the St. Laurent era. Trudeau risks heading in this direction if he can not rein things in.

2011 showed us that the polls can be wrong because people are unaware of their own subconscious. Consider all the polls showing the NDP did 'okay' in the french debate, and all the polls, in the days after, showing the NDP rising, fast, to first place in Quebec. A switch had been hit in the heads of Canadians and they were not even aware of it.

While polls show 'Elbowgate' has not impacted Canadians, there is a massive risk. Trudeau, after all, is the one who yelled "shit" in the house, is the one who beat up a Senator in a charity boxing match. As a "young man" who is "fit" he could easily play into the stereotype of someone "violent". At the same time, by giving concessions, he can come across as unable to make a quality decision. Trudeau can't continue to backtrack on issues, and if he wants to change things, needs to ensure that the first step is the right step.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Quickie: Electoral Reform - is it dead?

News came today that the Liberals have decided to bias their own electoral reform committee in favour of a system that does not yet exist, by distributing seats as though Canada has a Proportional Representation system.

What this means is we will have a committee where 4 members want FPTP, 3 want PR, and 5 want a ranked ballot. As such it becomes quite likely that the committee will deadlock itself and we will have another election in 2019 under the current system because we could not agree on what to change it to.

Regardless, I am still working on a new video that examines all the possible systems in one go.