Sunday, February 4, 2018

“Local” STV (“Local PR”)

I do not generally comment on electoral reform models for Ontario other than the Mixed Member Proportional system. Some people falsely call it the NDP model, but it has been used in Germany since 1949 (after being invented in the British Zone with the help of British political scientists). It was adopted by New Zealand in 1993, and Scotland and Wales in 1998. It was recommended for Canada by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004, just as the NDP also decided to propose it and for similar reasons.     

However, a group in Guelph has designed an STV model for Ontario with an unusual twist, that they call “Local PR” (also described here) although I would call it “Local STV.” STV is the system used in Ireland.

So here is a simulation on how it would have worked on the votes cast in the 2014 Ontario election.

(Feb. 11 note: I am about to update this blog post.)

This model groups ridings into regions of 4-7 ridings, like any STV model. But the present ridings continue as nomination districts: each party can nominate one candidate in each former riding. And the counting rules will prevent more than one candidate nominated in a nomination district (former riding) from being elected, so each nomination district will find one of its candidates elected. That’s the unique feature of this model.

All of the ballots in a region contain the same candidates, organized by riding (the columns) and party (the rows).


I have divided Ontario into 19 regions which, on the 2014 total of 107 MPPs, each have an average of 5.63 MPPs. Although the rules call for regions of 4-7 ridings, Northwestern Ontario had only 3 ridings in 2014 although they will have four ridings in the 2018 election, so I have made it a separate region.

Province-wide outcome:

A fully proportional system would, on the votes cast in 2014, have elected 42 Liberal MPPs, 34 PCs, 26 New Democrats, and 5 Greens, rather than the actual outcome of 58 Liberal, 28 PCs and 21 New Democrats.

Because of the small regions, “Local PR” would have elected no Greens. I estimate the result would have been 47 Liberal MPPs, 33 PCs, and 27 New Democrats.

Regional MPPs or local MPPs?

In almost all of the 19 regions, voters for all three parties would have elected a representative. (No New Democrat in four-MPP Ottawa East-Cornwall, no PC in three-MPP Northwest Ontario.) Every vote counts, almost.

However, are these MPPs “regional MPPs?” Or do they claim to represent only the nomination district (riding) under whose name they were listed on the ballot?

Really, they are both at once, so they can claim to be local MPPs when it suits them, or regional MPPs when it suits them. They will need to hope “their” riding is not jealous of the time they spend across other ridings. Will they have offices in each riding? If that MPP is the only one representing his or her party in that region, they’re going to need offices across the region.

Local results and “wrong-winners”

Take the nine New Democrats who were defeated in 2014 but would have been elected in place of Liberals. In Toronto, Rosario Marchese would have been re-elected in Trinity—Spadina despite getting fewer votes in his riding than Liberal Han Dong. Critics of this model will say this is a “wrong-winner” outcome.

On the votes cast in 2014, Tom Rakocevic would have been elected in York West in place of Mario Sergio. Neethan Shan in Scarborough—Rouge River in place of Bas Balkissoon. In York Region, New Democrat Miles Krauter in Oak Ridges-Markham in place of Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek. In Brampton--Springdale, Gurpreet Dhillon in place of Status of Women Minister Harinder Malhi. In Halton, Nik Spohr in place of Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris. In Ottawa Centre, Jennifer McKenzie in place of Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. In Kingston, Mary Rita Holland in place of Sophie Kiwala. In Barrie, David Bradbury in place of Ann Hoggarth.

Those Liberal star losses would not happen so much in MMP, where a strong candidate running in another party’s stronghold can be elected to a regional top-up seat.

Three current New Democrat MPPs would have lost instead of being elected: two in Northeast Ontario and one in Hamilton.

Counting the ballots:

As usual with STV, any candidate who has reached quota is elected. I will use the example of a six-MPP region, where “quota” is 14.29% of the votes cast in the region.

On the votes as cast in 2014, no MPP – not even France GĂ©linas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt who got 62.7% of the vote, the highest in Ontario – would reach quota on the first count. In a real election, no doubt Kathleen Wynne, for example, when running in the six-riding North York region with enough Liberal voters to elect 3.7 MPPs, would reach quota on the first count once every voter in the region could vote for her. 

(The original counting system proposed in "Local PR" is even more complicated than described below, which I will update shortly.) 

If a candidate is elected, no other candidate nominated in that riding can be elected, so those candidates are eliminated. Next, the elected candidate will often have more votes than the quota. His or her surplus votes are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated (so that will be a candidate from a different nomination district). These transfers might put another candidate over quota, and again the surplus will be transferred. Finally, ballots for the candidates eliminated because a candidate from their nomination district has been elected will be transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated.

Once all candidates who have reached quota have been elected, the candidate in the region who has the fewest votes is eliminated, and those ballots are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated. However, if that candidate is the only one nominated in that riding who remains in the count, that candidate will be elected even without having reached the quota for election. This would happen quite often on the votes cast in 2014. This elimination process continues until six MPPs have been elected from that region.

One important point about STV is that, on the final count, there will be seven candidates, six elected and the “final count loser.”

Note on Simulation:

For the purpose of this simulation, I used the over-simplified assumption that voters are 100% loyal to their party, so their ballots will transfer to another candidate of the same party. If all candidates from that party have either been elected or eliminated, I have no data on second choice parties in 2014, so I have used 2015 federal data.

Friday, November 3, 2017

What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with Proportional Representation?

BC’s NDP government is moving to implement Proportional Representation. What would Ontario’s 2014 election results have been with proportional representation?

Andrea Horwath wants to make every vote count
Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath told a public Town Hall event Oct. 18 “proportional representation makes a lot of sense, it has always been one of the things New Democrats have supported and believed in. It brings you a government that’s more reflective of the community at large, we see governments with that voting system have many more women elected to office, and greater diversity.”

Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities
We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 40% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPs, topping-up the numbers of MPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose a year ago.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

The ten missing NDP MPPs.
If all NDP voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected ten more MPPs in 2014.

In Toronto NDP voters cast 22% of the votes but elected only two MPPs, missing three more like Michael Prue and Jonah Schein and Tom Rakocevic or Rosario Marchese or Paul Ferreira.

In East Central Ontario NDP voters cast 20% of the votes but elected no one, missing two like Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Peterborough’s Sheila Wood.

In West Central Ontario (Waterloo—Bruce—Simcoe) NDP voters cast 19% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing two more like Jan Johnstone from Bruce County and Guelph’s James Gordon.

In Peel and Halton NDP voters cast 18% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like Brampton’s Gurpreet Dhillon or Gugni Gill Panaich.

In York and Durham Regions NDP voters cast 17% of the votes but elected only one MPP, missing one more like York Region lawyer Laura Bowman.

In the Ottawa-Cornwall region NDP voters cast 14% of the votes but elected no one, missing one like Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie or Cornwall’s Elaine MacDonald.

The five missing Green MPPs
Green voters cast 8.3% of the votes in West Central Ontario, and deserved to elect their leader Mike Schreiner who got 19% of the votes in Guelph. They cast 5.5% of the votes in Ottawa—Cornwall region, and deserved to elect someone like Dave Bagler or Kevin O’Donnell. They cast 4.5% of the votes in Peel and Halton, and deserved to elect Karren Wallace who got 17% of the votes in Dufferin-Caledon. They cast 3.9% of the votes in Toronto, and deserved to elect someone like Tim Grant or Rachel Power. They cast 3.7% of the votes in York—Durham, and deserved to elect someone like David Elgie, son of Ontario cabinet minister Bob Elgie.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

The parade of strongholds continued in 2014
Winner-take-all voting systems notoriously favour party strongholds. Voters living in them have an MPP in their party’s caucus. Others find no one at Queen’s Park to call.

Ontario’s accidental majority government, elected to stop Tim Hudak, looks dominated by the GTA. Almost two-thirds of Liberal MPPs are from the GTA.
Invisible Liberal voters
But electing a Liberal MPP in the GTA took only 25,326 votes, while it took 45,026 outside the GTA. In the GTA 962,385 Liberal voters elected 38 MPPs, while outside the GTA, 900,522 Liberal voters elected only 20 MPPs.

Proportional representation is not a partisan issue.
Our winner-take-all system left many invisible Liberal voters outside the GTA unheard in the government caucus. Like all those Alberta and Saskatchewan Liberals whose voices are seldom heard in Ottawa.

If all Liberal voters had equal and effective votes, they would have elected MPPs like Terry Johnson in Chatham, Mike Radan in Middlesex, and Dr. Catherine Whiting in North Bay.

Unrepresented conservative voters
Meanwhile, the official opposition has a mirror image of the same problem. Their caucus has no representative of the 205,996 Toronto Progressive Conservative voters, and only four from the rest of the GTA. Yet, in West Central Ontario, where only 37% of voters voted PC, they elected eight of those 13 MPPs. In East Central Ontario, where only 40% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those eight MPPs. In Southwestern Ontario, where only 32% of voters voted PC, they elected five of those 11 MPPs.

False Majorities
Voters for parties with geographic strongholds elect governments with false majorities, thanks to the seat bonus from their strongholds. Voters for parties with no strongholds, like the Greens, have no voice at Queen’s Park

Overall, a fair voting system would have let voters elect 42 Liberals, 33 PCs, 27 NDP and five Greens.

This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. In fact, more would have voted. And some would have voted differently -- no more strategic voting. We would likely have seen different candidates -- more women, and more diversity of all kinds. We could have seen different parties. Who knows who might have won real democratic elections?

A manufactured majority
In a truly democratic system, parties representing a true majority of voters would have to work together. As former Attorney-General John Gerretsen liked to say, “Nobody is ever 100-per-cent right and nobody is ever 100-per-cent wrong. Governing is the art of compromise. There’s nothing wrong with having the governing party take into account smaller parties.”

The 2014 election was all about rejection of Tim Hudak’s platform. In the process, voters accidentally elected a government with a manufactured majority of MPPs supported by less than 39% of voters. It has no legislative accountability to representatives of the majority of voters.

Competing MPs
Fair Vote Canada says “We must give rural and urban voters in every province, territory and regional community effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition.” The Law Commission model would give citizens competing MPs: a local MP, and a few regional MPs from a “top-up region” based in their area. Scotland uses regions of 16 MPs, Wales 12. I’m assuming a typical region would have 11 MPPs: seven local, four regional “top-up.” Generally, three of today’s ridings become two larger local ridings.

There's more. With two votes, you can vote for the party you want in government. And you can also vote for the local candidate you like best regardless of party, without hurting your party, since it's the second ballot that determines the party make-up of the legislature. About 30% of voters split their ballots this way in New Zealand with a similar system.

Fair Vote Canada says “A democratic voting system must encourage citizens to exercise positive choice by voting for the candidate or party they prefer.”

Accountable MPPs
With the same 107 MPPs we have today, I’m assuming 65 MPPs would still be elected from larger local ridings, and 42 MPPs would be elected regionally. These regions are large enough that voters for every major party would be represented in every region.

Regional MPPs
Who would those regional MPPs be? First, each party would hold regional nomination meetings and/or vote online to nominate their regional candidates. These would often be the same people nominated locally, plus a few additional regional candidates. The meeting would decide what rank order each would have on the regional ballot. But then voters in the region would have the final choice.

With top-up regions of about 11 MPPs each, the results are very close to perfect proportionality. Green Party voters elect the five MPPs they deserve.

Power to the voters
An exciting prospect: voters have new power to elect who they like. New voices from new forces in the legislature, more voter choice. No one party rolls the dice and wins an artificial majority. Cooperation will have a higher value than vitriolic rhetoric. One-party dominance by the Premier’s office will, at last, be out of fashion. Governments will have to listen to MPPs, and MPPs will have to really listen to the people. MPPs can act as the public servants they are supposed to be.

Ten different Commissions, Assemblies and Reports in the past eleven years in Canada have unanimously recommended proportional representation.

No central party direction
The models in Ontario and PEI which failed referendums had closed province-wide lists for the additional “top-up” MPPs. This failure was no surprise to the Jenkins Commission. Jenkins said top-up MPs locally anchored to small areas are “more easily assimilable into the political culture and indeed the Parliamentary system than would be a flock of unattached birds clouding the sky and wheeling under central party directions.”

Clearly this would allow fair representation of Ontario’s political diversity in each region.
Would this model also help reflect in the Legislature the diversity of society, removing barriers to the nomination and election of candidates from groups now underrepresented including women, cultural minorities and Aboriginals? Polls show that 90% of Canadian voters would like to see more women elected. If they can choose from several of their party's regional candidates, they'll almost certainly elect more women. And as long as a party is nominating at least five regional candidates, you can expect them to nominate a diverse group. With four regional MPs from a region, and seven local MPs, a major party would want more than five regional candidates, since any candidates who win local seats are removed from contention for regional seats.

Technical notes
This model was described in more detail by Prof. Henry Milner at an electoral reform conference Feb. 21, 2009, where he recommended 14-MP regions. A similar "open-list" model is used in the German province of Bavaria and was proposed by Scotland's Arbuthnott Commission in 2006.

The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

The Law Commission recommended that the right to nominate candidates for regional top-up seats should be limited to those parties which have candidates standing for election in at least one-third of the ridings within the top-up region. This prevents a possible distortion of the system by parties pretending to split into twin decoy parties for the regional seats, the trick which Berlusconi invented to sabotage Italy’s voting system.


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Does the Mixed Member Proportional system elect two kinds of MPs?

One of the persistent anti-PR myths is that the Mixed Member Proportional system elects two kinds of MPs. Critics usually are referring to several different ideas:

1   1. Democratically nominated MPs versus candidates appointed by the party leader?

This is a common fallacy. In Scotland, New Zealand and Germany all candidates are nominated democratically. In fact, as part of the German de-nazification process, the lucky Germans have laws requiring all nominations to be democratic. Fair Vote Canada recommends that party election campaigns not be eligible for public subsidy unless all their candidates, whether local or regional, have been nominated democratically.

2    2. Candidates elected personally versus candidates elected because of their position on a list?

Fair Vote Canada has said for years that all MPs must face the voters. MMP with open lists is used in Bavaria. The Law Commission of Canada recommended in 2004 that “allowing voters to choose a candidate from the list provides voters with the ability to select a specific individual and hold them accountable for their actions should they be elected.” It is true that the 2009 Ontario model for its referendum proposed 30% of MPPs should come from closed province-wide lists. No one proposes this model today, but the enemies of PR keep using arguments recycled from 2009.

3.    3. MPs who serve constituents versus MPs who do not serve constituents?

Some critics assume that regional MPs will not have local offices and will not serve constituents. In fact, they do, in Scotland, New Zealand, and even in party-centric Germany. The definitive study on “two classes of MPs” in Germany was led by Prof. Louis Massicotte in 2004:

He concluded, in Chapter 8: “They will substantially do the same work. . . . Voters do not usually know whether a Bundestag member was directly or indirectly elected. . . . List members receive as much mail from their constituents as do constituency members. . . .”  After an exhaustive study of the roles of the two types of MPs, he concludes: “The above data strongly support the prevailing consensus in the literature: the existence of two types of parliamentary mandates within the same parliament does not produce two unequal castes.”

4   4. Will regional MPs represent “Real Communities?”

If regional MPs plan to run again at the next election, they will want to run locally as well; if their party wins enough local seats their regional seat will evaporate. Even in Germany “since most list candidates have contested constituencies — and perhaps hope to do so again — they, too, will ‘nurse’ constituencies and undertake engagements there.” Even regional MPs from a smaller party will be locally anchored to small regions of perhaps 10 or 12 MPs, sometimes as few as seven.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

What would BC’s 2017 election results have been, with proportional representation?

What would BC’s 2017 election results have been, with a proportional representation system where every vote counts?

Of course, I’m not talking about the kind of province-wide system used in the Netherlands, with no local ridings, no threshold, and 13 parties in their Parliament.

I’m talking about the open-regional-list Mixed Member Proportional system, where every MLA has faced the voters. That’s the system PEI voters chose last November, with a workable ballot as you can see here. It’s also the model on which the federal Electoral Reform Committee found consensus: like other models, it is a local proportional representation model.

Its best feature, compared with other PR models for BC, is that the number of seats per region can be consistent across the different regions of BC, giving all voters equally proportional election outcomes. No Urban/Rural divide.

(Note: this blogpost has been revised on Jan. 14, 2017.) 

Do you want your vote to count?

You have two votes

You have two votes: one for your local MLA, and for a regional MLA from your local region. You cast your second vote for a party’s regional candidate you prefer, which counts as a vote for that party. This is the same practical model used in Scotland, with one vital improvement: Canadian voters would like to vote for a specific regional candidate and hold them accountable. 

I’m assuming 52 local MLAs and 35 regional MLAs, so 60% of MLAs are elected in local districts as we do today. The other 35 are elected from seven regions.  The regions have an average of 12 MLAs each: seven local, five regional.

Every voter for any of the three parties in all seven regions has an MLA they helped elect, either from their local district or from their local region.

The best of both worlds

Would proportional representation hurt small communities? Just the opposite: voters are guaranteed two things which equal better local representation:
1.         A local MLA who will champion their area.
2.         An MLA whose views best reflect their values, someone they helped elect in their local district or local region.

No longer does one person claim to speak for everyone in the district. No longer does one party claim unbridled power with only 40% support. Local districts are bigger than today, but in return you have competing MLAs: a local MLA, and about five regional MLAs from your local region.

Parties will work together

Parties will, unless one party had outright majority support, have to work together - to earn our trust where others have broken it, and to show that a new kind of governance is possible. Research clearly shows that proportionately-elected governments and cooperative decision-making produce better policy outcomes and sustainable progress on major issues over the long term.

BC’s rural/urban divide

One factor I have left alone is the all-party consensus to protect the 17 electoral districts in the North Region, the Cariboo-Thompson Region, and the Columbia-Kootenay Region, largely rural and small-urban. These elected 13 Liberals and four New Democrats in 2017. Any likely proportional system for BC will keep the same regional balance. Thus, it is not surprising that my simulation gives the Liberals a bonus of one MLA, at the cost of the NDP. 

Province-wide result: 37 Liberals, 35 NDP, 15 Greens

The perfectly proportional result would have been 36 Liberal MLAs, 36 NDP MLAs, and 15 Greens. Instead, for the reason above, I get 37, 35 and 15. This does not change the election outcome, since the parties will form the coalitions they choose to form, regardless which party has a few more seats than the other.

Regional nominations

Typically, party members will nominate local candidates first, then hold a regional nomination process. Often the regional candidates will include the local candidates, plus a few regional-only candidates who will add diversity and balance to the regional slate. In order to ensure democratic nominations, it would be useful to deny taxpayer subsidy to any party not nominating democratically.  The meeting would decide what rank order each would have on the regional ballot. But then voters in the region would have the final choice.

A simulation

What follows is only a simulation from the votes cast in 2017. In any election, as Prof. Dennis Pilon says"Now keep in mind that, when you change the voting system, you also change the incentives that affect the kinds of decisions that voters might make. For instance, we know that, when every vote counts, voters won't have to worry about splitting the vote, or casting a strategic vote. Thus, we should expect that support for different parties might change."
The North and the Cariboo Region

Instead of electing eight Liberal MLAs and only two New Democrats, these voters would have elected another New Democrat. That would be the candidate who got the most votes across the region (after crossing off the regional list those who were elected as Local MLAs). Maybe Anne Marie Sam (an elected councilor with the Nak’azdli Nation) or Quesnel city councilor Scott Elliott or Prince George labour lawyer Bobby Deepak. And they would have elected a Green MLA, maybe Rita Giesbrecht from 100 Mile House (Party Spokesperson for Rural development) or Nan Kendy from Prince George.

The Interior including the Columbia—Kootenay Region and Kamloops

Instead of electing 12 Liberal MLAs and two New Democrats, these voters would have elected two more New Democrats as well as Michelle Mungall and Katrine Conroy. Maybe Harry Lali from Merritt and Barb Nederpel from Kamloops or Barry Dorval from Vernon or Colleen Ross from Grand Forks or Gerry Taft from Invermere. And Green voters would have elected three MLAs such as former Nelson city councillor Kim Charlesworth (Party Spokesperson for Agriculture and food systems), Dan Hines from Kamloops (Green Party Spokesperson for Forestry), and Keli Westgate from Vernon.

Fraser Valley-Langley Region

Instead of electing Liberal MLAs in all seven districts, these voters would have elected two NDP MLAs such as Langley Teachers Association leader Gail Chaddock-Costello and Chiliwack shelter director Patti MacAhonic, and a Green MLA like Langley’s Bill Masse (Green Party Research and Policy Chair) or Elizabeth Walker.

Vancouver—North Shore Region

Instead of electing only ten NDP MLAs and six Liberal MLAs, these voters would have elected three Green Party MLAs. Maybe Dana Taylor (he was a North Vancouver city councilor), Kim Darwin from the Sunshine Coast (she was President of the Sechelt Chamber of Commerce) and David Wong (architect and author of ‘Escape to Gold Mountain’) or Prof. Michael Markwick (Party Spokesperson for Democratic Security and Human Rights) or Jerry Kroll (Party Spokesperson on Transportation).

Burnaby—Tri-Cities—Maple Ridge Region

Instead of electing ten NDP MLAs and only one Liberal, these voters would have elected a Green MLA (likely Jonina Campbell, New Westminster School Board chair and Party Spokesperson for Education), as well as two Liberal incumbents like Linda Reimer and Richard Lee.

Surrey-Delta-Richmond Region

Instead of electing only eight Liberals and seven New Democrats, these voters would also have elected two Green MLAs, such as Roy Sakata (retired school administrator of Richmond School District) and Surrey’s Rita Fromholt or Delta’s Jacquie Miller or White Rock’s Bill Marshall.
Vancouver Island

These voters would have elected another Green MLA like Lia Versaevel from North Cowichan, Victoria’s Kalen Harris, or Mark Neufeld (party spokesperson on Youth and intergenerational equity), and three more Liberal MLAs like Jim Benninger from Comox, indigenous leader Dallas Smith from North Island, and Nanaimo’s Paris Gaudet.

How will regional MPs operate? 

Most regional MPs will each cover several ridings. This is just the way it’s done in Scotland, where each regional MP normally covers about three local ridings, and holds office hours rotating across them. 


With a regional MMP model, we risk local sweeps being so extreme that they create “overhangs.” Those are results too disproportional for the regional compensatory (“top-up”) MLAs to correct, when they are only 40% of the total. That’s the trade-off in the system design, to keep local ridings from being almost double their present size. In this simulation we find one overhang. The NDP near-sweep in Burnaby-Tri-Cities-Maple Ridge gives them an extra MLA there, offsetting the NDP’s rural shortfall.

Technical note

The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

A Simpler Alternative: the Personalized No-List Proportional System (Best Runners-up, One-vote)

To keep voting simple, with no party lists, you can use the “best runner-up” model.

You cast only one vote, for your local MLA, which also counts as a vote for that candidate’s party (if he or she has one). You have a local MLA, and regional MLAs in top-up seats, just like the normal MMP model. But the candidates elected to those regional seats are the local candidates who, while not elected locally, got the highest vote percent of that party’s candidates in that region.

The party outcome is identical to the normal MMP model, but the regional MLAs are simply the best runners-up in the region of the party whose voters are under-represented in that region. The simple ballot is just like today’s ballot.

Who invented this model? No one, it is in actual use in the German province of Baden-Wurttemberg. They’ve used it since 1952. They call it the Personalized No-List Proportional System.

It’s a very local model: the best runners-up are ranked only by how well their local voters liked them.


True, with no regional nomination process, a party’s members have no opportunity to nominate additional regional candidates from minority groups, or women. Voters across the region have no second vote, no opportunity to vote region-wide for the regional candidate they prefer. And voters are not free to vote for a local candidate of a different party than they want in government. 

Still, every MLA has faced the local voters, with one tiny exception: you still need a regional nomination process to nominate a few alternate candidates. Suppose voters for a party cast 67% of the votes in a 12-MLA region, and elect MLAs in all seven local seats. They are entitled to elect an eighth MLA, a regional MLA to top-up the regional results, but the party has no best-runners up in the region. So it will have to be the top candidate on the party’s regional list. Yes, ranked by the party’s nomination process, not by the voters, but this will happen very rarely, if ever.

The government, after the public consultations, may decide to put more than one PR model on the ballot. This one would be a simple and practical alternative.    

Other design questions:

Legal threshold: the effective threshold with 12-MLA regions is about 7% or 8%. But a party with a regional stronghold might win one seat there, while getting only 2% across BC. Starting to sound like the Netherlands or Israel. Would a legal threshold of 5% reassure anyone worried about fringe parties?

What qualification is required for election of regional candidates? The purpose of the top-up seats is to correct disproportional local results, not to provide a parallel system of getting elected. The Law Commission of Canada recommended a party be eligible for top-up regional seats only if it presents local candidates in at least 33 percent of the ridings in the region; Jenkins recommended 50%. These rules prevent the Berlusconi trick of running twin parties, one party with local candidates, the other with regional candidates. 

Eight region model:

Some people feel the North Shore has a unique character, despite having only five MLAs (including Powell River-Sunshine Coast), and should be its own region. I don't recommend this, but it does have the minor advantage of letting Richmond be paired with Vancouver rather than with Surrey, a better match. So, for interest, here’s that alternative. (Sadly, it elects one less Green: 38 Liberals, 36 NDP, and 14 Greens):

Vancouver—Richmond Region

Instead of electing only eight NDP MLAs and seven Liberal MLAs, these voters would also have elected two Green Party MLAs. Maybe David Wong (architect and author of ‘Escape to Gold Mountain’) and elected school trustee Janet Fraser, or Jerry Kroll (Party Spokesperson on Transportation) or Bradley Shende (Party Spokesperson for income security).

Surrey-Delta Region

Instead of electing only four Liberals and seven New Democrats, these voters would also have elected a Green MLA, such as White Rock’s Bill Marshall or Surrey’s Aleksandra Muniak, or Delta’s Jacquie Miller or Surrey’s Rita Fromholt.

North Shore Region

Instead of electing only two NDP MLAs and three Liberal MLAs, these voters would also have elected a Green Party MLA. Maybe Dana Taylor (he was a North Vancouver city councilor), or Kim Darwin from the Sunshine Coast (she was President of the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce), or Prof. Michael Markwick (Party Spokesperson for Democratic Security and Human Rights)

Fast Boundaries version:

Suppose, as a matter of possible (but unlikely) interest, the new government wanted to implement MMP without an entire Boundaries Hearing process for the new electoral districts? They could use the existing 42 federal electoral districts. The government would only have to choose the regions. Then, each region would also have enough regional MLAs that the present numbers of MLAs from each district would be unchanged.  BC would still have 87 MLAs: 42 local, 45 regional.

The North and the Cariboo Region

It would have only three local MLAs, but would have seven regional MLAs. The result would be the same as outlined above: six Liberals, three New Democrats and a Green. The local result in Skeena—Bulkley Valley would have been very close, but even if the Liberals won all three local seats, the NDP would have three regional MLAs, the Greens one, and the Liberals three. Again, the regional MLAs would be those candidates who got the most votes across the region (after crossing off the regional list those who were elected as Local MLAs).

The Interior including the Columbia—Kootenay Region and Kamloops

Because the federal electoral district of Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon runs up to Lillooet and Cache Creek, it includes 33.1% of the population of Fraser-Nicola, and Chilliwack—Hope includes another 20.1%. Therefore, I have to count Fraser-Nicola as part of the Fraser Valley-Langley Region, so this Interior region has only 13 MLAs today. They will now have six local MLAs and seven regional MLAs: five local Liberals and one local NDP, plus three regional NDP MLAs, two regional Liberal MLAs, and two regional Green MLAs.

Fraser Valley-Langley Region

Adding Fraser-Nicola, this region now has nine MLAs, and will continue to: four local MLAs (all Liberals) and five regional: three NDP, one Green and one more Liberal.


The province-wide result is 38 Liberals, 35 NDP, and 14 Green. Again, this does not change the election outcome, since the parties will form the coalitions they choose to form, regardless which party has a few more seats than the other.