Sunday, November 20, 2005
I'm now wondering why the Yes to MMPR people are being such dicks.
Today, as I entered the Charlottetown Farmer's Market I was accosted by a couple of evangelical "YES" to MMPR folks. Evangelical is actually a tame word to describe the aggressive, argumentative behaviour of this distasteful duo. After about 2 minutes of out and out arguing with me about why I was undecided and still had questions about the MMPR proposal we will be voting on November 28th, I decided to walk away. I know these two birds, and they are both involved and caring citizens (one happens to be a commissioner on the Commission on PEI's Electoral Future which I find a tad inappropriate, but maybe that's cool with the Commission, don't know).I also get the impression from the 'yes' people that being sceptical about this proposed system (a very specific and flawed implementation of PR.) means that you are either against change, part of or a beneficiary of the old-style 'corrupt, back-room' pollitical system. (who will turn around and tell you that political parties are a fact of life so no sense fretting about independent's losing a voice. or that you're too dimwitted to understand why this system of handing out seats to losing parties is so wonderful.
The 'no' side (as in, no to this system but not necessarily no to reform.) doesn't have nearly the same nasty habit of talking down to people and treating questions as confrontation.
Still haven't completely made up my mind, but the 'yes' people aren't doing their side any favours.
On your first vote, you are asked to choose the district candidate you feel best represents your views and can best represent your local district's concerns in goverment. On your second vote, you are choosing the party you feel best represents your views in the legislature. Under MMP, the standings in the legislature will reflect the way Islanders voted on their second ballots as closely as possible. Practically, this does mean that parties that win disproportionately high numbers of district seats will receive less list seats. But theyb will win no more or less seats than Islanders voted for them on the second ballot! Some might say that this is awarding seats to "losing parties", I call it fair voting and ensuring that every vote counts.
To respond to your specific concerns about independents, as I said at the debate last week, MMP does not eliminate the possibility of independent candidates taking a seat in Province House (although it should be noted no independent candidate has stood for election in 30 years!). They will be able to run for the 17 district seats and - depending on how our current MLAs rewrite the Elections Act to prepare for MMP - could still conveivably run as an independent for the list seats, as say the Alex Party.
Finally, I would direct your attention to the blog entry by Rob MacLean on our website - www.peivotesyes.com - which addresses the issue of parties and PR quite well.
As Gordon suggested, you can Vote No in the hopes of getting a better system, but I doubt Islanders will be any more likely to buy another PR system, whether list PR or STV. As you asked me at the debate I'll lend my support to such a campaign somehow, but I think it will be much tougher road to hoe than this campaign and I wouldn't want the job of running it.
To me, voting yes, which I will be doing, is about opening the dialogue for electoral reform. I certainly respect that many people have concerns about the particular proposal, and I don't believe in the "your either with us or against us" mentality. However, I don't think that a "No" vote will be seen by the government, as "No, I don't like this particular model, but I am for looking at electoral change." Perhaps, I'm merely being skeptical, but I think a "No" vote will be seen as "I'm happy just the way things are." (I would, of course, LOVE to be proven wrong about this.) As well, should over 60% of voters say "yes", I don't actually believe that the gov't will immediately overhaul the electoral system, there could be a wee bit of fidling with this model first. This is why to me, if one is not happy with the current FPTP system, and sees at least some value in MMP and electoral reform, a yes vote makes sense.
Some campaigners for the "Yes" side may be zealous, but I would venture that perhaps this comes out of a defensive feeling of trying to reach an unfair threshold of 60%, while the "No" side can be a little more relaxed, as it's goal is a cool 40%.