I can't imagine the majority of the population even caring enough to educate themselves on what is an extremely complex question. However, several people have asked me to respond to Andrew Coyne's Op-ed in Saturday's National Post (Why Conservatives should support proportional representation), so I will attempt to fulfill that request now. I've also made a few comments at Christian Conservative and Diogenes Borealis.
If I am interpreting it correctly, Coynes' basic argument is that the present system ("First Past the Post" - FPTP), encourages a dull middle ground of policy or McGuintoryism as he refers to it. (Why not TorMcGuintyism?)
Anyway, that is a moot point. At first Tory's ideas seemed very close to McGuinty's, but lately he's been throwing out new ideas at such a rapid rate that the Liberal attack dogs can hardly keep up.
In a nutshell, Coyne is saying that MMP is preferable "because the 'winner take all' dynamic would have been broken -- parties get roughly the share of the seats their proportion of the vote would suggest, rather than the highly leveraged payoffs under FPTP -- all parties would have less fear of taking risks".
I'm not sure that 'taking risks' is going to sell MMP for me.
The supposed advantage of forming coalitions doesn't really do much for me either. As Paul Wilson wisely notes in his letter to the editor in today's Post (Coyne is wrong about MMP):
...So the issue is not stable government but responsible government, which depends on our collective ability, as electors, to toss a government out. In choosing between the existing system or the new proposal, Ontario voters should not think about instant gratification ('The Greens have seats at last!"), or about which end of the political spectrum gets the advantage, but about the long-term consequences of being governed by successions of coalitions over which we, the electors, no longer hold the power of life or death.
Now one of my regular readers, Kingston, made an interesting proposal in the previous thread:
Joanne, I think I have come to a reasonable conclusion concerning MMP and if it was implemented as follows I could live with it, say after all the math is done, the Libs end up with 8 extra seats the PC 5, the NDP 4 and the Greens 2 just for example, instead of the parties leaders picking off a list of cronies they have to fill these seats with those members who lost but had the highest voter support. i.e. the Libs 8 highest percentage vote winners that never actually won are appointed, kind of like the wild card position in Major League Baseball, at least that way the members are partial accountable to the voters and have actually stood for election.
This sounds very close to the STV (Single Transferable Vote) system that has been proposed in B.C., would certainly help make the process a bit more democratic, but it still doesn't seem to address the coalition concerns that the Post reader had noted.
I'm sure this debate will rage on between those who are passionately interested in change, and those who are concerned about the ramifications. Lots of good points were made by both sides in a previous post here.
But what will the folks who can hardly be bothered to vote do? Assuming they can even drag themselves out to the ballot box, will they just close their eyes and pick?
I do agree with Coyne's last line: "...start changing minds today".
But do it for the side you truly believe in. Change just for the sake of change is not necessarily a good thing.
In today's Record Geoffrey Stevens reminds us that "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".
I'm not sure I totally agree with him. The system may be 'broken' inasmuch as there is a lot of voter apathy out there, which is antithetical to a health democracy.
I'm just not convinced that MMP is the panacea.