Monday, October 1, 2007

In defence of the MMP

This is an article on the MMP from democraticspace.

Two-tier democracy: Under FPTP, some 75,000 “super-voters” to decide Oct. 10 outcome

Millions of other Ontario votes relegated to secondary importance

TORONTO | September 26, 2007: Under Ontario’s outdated voting system, the outcome of next month’s election will once again be decided by about 75,000 “super-voters”, whose lucky location and vote-changeability mean their votes count for a whole lot more than the other millions of Ontario voters, says election expert Greg Morrow of democraticSPACE.

“One would think that in a democratic system, the votes of all Ontario voters should count equally,” says Morrow, who also works with Ipsos Reid on election seat projections. “But in reality, under Ontario’s unrepresentative first-past-the-post voting system, only a small fraction of votes end up deciding the outcome one way or another.”

Based on past elections, an estimated 4.7 million Ontarians will vote on Oct 10. In a recently-published online report, Morrow estimated that only about 1.5% of voters will determine the outcome of the election. Under today’s FPTP system, “since the government is decided by a series of one-on-one riding battles, it will be determined by 5% of voters in the closest 30% of the ridings.”

“The new MMP system recommended by Ontario’s Citizens Assembly reverses this profoundly undemocratic imbalance between a handful of ’super voters’ and all the rest of us,” said Rick Anderson, campaign chair of Vote For MMP ( “Instead of today’s FPTP system wherein provincial election outcomes come down to a handful of voters in a handful of ridings, MMP’s new two-vote ballot system would mean every single vote counts equally towards determining the crucial province-wide question of who forms government.”

Morrow’s analysis is another convincing illustration of how badly the current voting system warps the way we do politics. “Rather than court all voters in all parts of the province, the undemocratic first-past-the-post system encourages parties to focus on a tiny minority of strategically-targeted voters,” said Anderson. “A proportional voting system such as MMP gives equal weight to all voters, meaning that parties need to compete for votes in all parts of the province. Whether a vote is cast in Timmins or Toronto, for party A or party B, in a swing riding or a safe one - they will carry the same weight and value under MMP.”

“This deeply changes the way parties compete for votes - and how they govern when in power,” said Anderson. “Under first-past-the-post, parties know they can win overwhelming control of the legislature and governing agenda with as little as 40 per cent of the votes. When parties focus on swing ridings, other voters, other ridings, and entire regions become a less-than-equal part of the picture when the cold hard calculus of policy-making is applied.”

“It’s time to replace the two-tier democracy and ’super voters’ of our winner-take-all system, and modernize our democracy by adopting MMP on October 10.”

About Vote for MMP: Vote for MMP is a multi-partisan citizens’ campaign supporting the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) voting system presented to Ontarians for adoption in the referendum on electoral reform referendum on October 10. MMP was proposed by the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform, an independent body of 103 randomly chosen Ontario voters. Assembly members were asked by the Ontario Legislature to (a) determine whether Ontario needs a new voting system, and (b) if so to recommend an improved system. The Assembly studied proportional electoral systems used in 81 democracies around the world, and selected MMP as the approach best-suited for Ontario. Vote for MMP is funded by donations from citizens and organizations who agree with the Citizens’ Assembly recommendations, and believe it is time to strengthen democracy and modernize Ontario’s voting system that gives voters more choice, fairer results and stronger representation.

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