Saturday, January 25, 2020

Electoral Reform - Quebec

So, I was made aware of the Electoral Reform proposal by the CAQ in Quebec, and, decide to post it today.

In the proposed Electoral Reform, the CAQ takes a standard MMP-PR electoral formula, which is V/(S+1) and changes it to V/((S/2)+1)

This may not look like a massive difference, but I want to walk you though some of the impacts.

Lets say, for examples sake, that a party takes 70% of the seats an a particular area, on 40% of the vote. In a standard MMP-PR system, they would end up with a large number of overhang seats, and not elect and "List MPs". However, under the Quebec system, ridings are counted at half-weight (hence the "/2") and, therefore, if they win 40% of the vote and 70% of the seats, they can still win PR list seats.

In fact, this will end up working unless you take two times as many seats - as a share of the total seats - as you've taken votes - as the share of the total votes.

This means that is you've won 40% of the vote, that, so long as you win 80% or less of the seats, you can still elect List MPs.

I've looked at electoral reform before, and these three posts in particular, examine it. But even I have to admit when I've been beat; the CAQ election reform achieves what I'm trying to achieve, but in a better way.

In short, this allows for Majority Governments (precisely because it weights FPTP seats at half-weight) while allowing for opposition parties to be better represented.

It discards my potentially confusing "maximum list" rule, where a party can only run as many candidates as there are FPTP seats, and instead, simply weights things at half-weight, to allow the winning-party to still potentially win FPTP seats.

In effect, it does what I try to do, but better.

As such, I have no choice but to offer it my full endorsement as an Electoral Reform package that can win across Canada...

...except, I have one problem with it.

The CAQ plans to use the 17 Regions of Quebec. Most expect this would see them use the 78 Federal ridings, plus 2 additional ridings for both the Magedlin Islands and Northern Quebec. However; Montreal, federally, has 18 ridings, while the plans that I've seen, have Montreal as a 16 riding area.

Montreal, however, is not the problem. It's all those tiny areas.

Imagine an alternate history where the CAQ, PLQ, and QS, tie at 33% of the vote each. Now imagine that their vote distributions and patterns remain realistic. This means that QS does not win a single seat in many areas, areas where there are only 3 seats total (2 ridings and 1 PR seat). Meanwhile Montreal, where the CAQ will heavily struggle, can easily pick up PR seats given the massive 8 seat lists.

A 17 region province will trend towards electing right-wing and rural parties over left-wing and urban parties. In fact, I suspect these 17 regions were chosen, in large part, because the CAQ's support base is both right-wing and rural. Regions like Abiti, Nord-du-Quebec, Cote-Nord Vas-Saint-Laurent, and Gaspesie-Ile-de-la-Madeline, have 3 seats (combined ridings and PR seats) or less. This means, roughly, a party needs 33% of the vote or more to win a list seat. This obfuscates the proportionality of the system. Compare this with Montreal, with a grand total of 24 seats (16 ridings and 8 list) where one would only need 4% of the vote to win a seat.

Given that it is right-wing and rural votes that have the most to lose in any PR scheme, it may be, that such a scheme is simply the best way to introduce Canadians to voting in Proportional Elections.

Regardless, these plans would hurt the chances of left-wing parties winning government, while, simultaneously, as I outlined in posts considering my proposed system - help those same parties win seats while in Opposition.

I've not yet been able to calculate the impact such a system would have had on the last Quebec election; but it would have been close as to weather or not the CAQ won a Majority or Minority, nad based on current polling, the CAQ would easily win a majority.

If this were applied federally, on a Province=Region basis, we'd still see CPC MP's elected on the list from places like Alberta.

In the end, this does what I want, but in a far better way than I've ever thought of.

Canadians have said, time and time again, in referendum after referendum  that PR scares them. They do not want minority government after minority government, and that they are comfortable in Majorities, even if they be so-called "False" Majorities. Canadians want a system that gives them the option between putting in a Majority and a Minority, and not one that ignores the voting history (IE the fact that very few parties win 50%+1 of the vote)

As such,  I'm willing to give the CAQ proposed electoral reform my "Stamp of Approval, with Reservations" in the hope that they abandon their 17 region approach in favour of another approach that ensures each region, so far as possible, as a minimum of 7 seats.

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