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.

You have two votes

You have two votes: one for your local MLA, and one 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 local or regional.

The best of both worlds

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.

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 decent proportional system for BC will keep the same regional balance. Thus, it is not surprising that my simulation gives the Liberals a bonus of two MLAs, one at the cost of the NDP, one at the cost of the Greens. 

Province-wide result: 38 Liberals, 35 NDP, 14 Greens

The perfectly proportional result would have been 36 Liberal MLAs, 36 NDP MLAs, and 15 Greens. Instead, for the reason above, I get 38, 35 and 14. 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—Thompson Region

Instead of electing ten Liberal MLAs and only two New Democrats, these voters would have elected two more New Democrats. That 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). Maybe Anne Marie Sam (an elected councilor with the Nak’azdli Nation) and Quesnel city councilor Scott Elliott or Prince George labour lawyer Bobby Deepak. And they would have elected a Green MLA, maybe Dan Hines from Kamloops (Green Party Spokesperson for Forestry) or Rita Giesbrecht from 100 Mile House (Party Spokesperson for Rural development).

The Interior including the Columbia—Kootenay Region

Instead of electing ten 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 Gerry Taft from Invermere or Colleen Ross from Grand Forks. And Green voters would have elected two MLAs such as former Nelson city councillor Kim Charlesworth (Party Spokesperson for Agriculture and food systems) and Keli Westgate from Vernon.

Fraser Valley-Langley Region

Instead of electing seven Liberal MLAs and only one NDP member, these voters would have elected another NDP MLA such as Langley Teachers Association leader Gail Chaddock-Costello, or Chiliwack school board employee and union leader Tracey Lorrean O'Hara, and a Green MLA like Langley’s Bill Masse (Green Party Research and Policy Chair) or Elizabeth Walker or Peter Tam.

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 only nine NDP MLAs and 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. 

Overhangs

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 two overhangs that cancel each other out. The Liberal sweep in Fraser Valley-Langley gives them an extra MLA there, but the NDP sweep in Burnaby-Tri-Cities-Maple Ridge gives them an extra MLA there.

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.    

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.  This has the advantage of letting Richmond be paired with Vancouver rather than with Surrey, a better match. So here’s that alternative. (Sadly, it elects one less Green: 38 Liberals, 36 NDP, and 13 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)

Update: I have entered the final 2017 election results on my spreadsheet. The above calculated projections are unchanged.


Friday, March 17, 2017

If PEI used MMP, how would it work out?

If PEI used the Mixed Member Proportional system they voted for, how would it work out?

Last November, PEI voters voted in favour of changing their voting system to the Mixed Member Proportional system (MMP).

You have two votes. Your first vote allows you to choose who you believe will be the best local representative, just as we do today. Your second vote allows you to choose your preferred party by voting directly for one of their candidates for Island-wide representative. This second vote counts as a vote for that candidate’s party. It helps elect Island-wide representatives for top-up seats.

PEI would still have 27 MLAs. That will now become 18 local MLAs and 9 Island-wide MLAs, to top-up the local results so the overall result will match the share of the votes cast for that party. Every vote will count.



The PEI Liberal government has refused to honour the vote. As a result, the Honour the Vote movement seems to be wielding political power where before there was seemingly little or none.

If this MMP system were used for federal elections, in the larger provinces the top-up MPs would not be province-wide representatives. They could be from regions such as 12 MPs: eight local and four regional.

PEI’s 2015 election:

Back to PEI: if this MMP system had been used in the 2015 election, how would it have worked out?

As Prof. Dennis Pilon says in this video : "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."

But let’s take the votes actually cast in 2015. Liberal voters would have elected 11 local MLAs, such as Pat Murphy, Robert Henderson, Sonny Gallant, Paula Biggar, Heath MacDonald, Bush Dumville, Kathleen Casey, Richard Brown, Doug Currie,  Wade MacLauchlan, and Allen Roach.

Progressive Conservative voters would have elected seven local MLAs such as Matthew MacKay, Jamie Fox, Brad Trivers, Sidney MacEwen, James Aylward, Darlene Compton, and Steven Myers.

By the percentage of the vote, Liberal voters deserved to elect 11 of the 28 MLAs, so they need no top-up Island-wide MLAs. The PCs deserved to elect 10 MLAs, so they elect another three MLAs as Island-wide MLAs. Who is elected? The three PC candidates on the Island-wide ballot who got the most votes (after crossing off those who already won a local seat). That might have been Colin LaVie, Rob Lantz, and Mary Ellen McInnis or Linda Clements.

Green Party voters deserved to elect 3 MLAs. Maybe they would have been Peter Bevan-Baker, Becka Viau, and Darcie Lanthier.

NDP voters deserved to elect 3 MLAs. Maybe they would have been Michael Redmond, Karalee McAskill and Susan Birt or Peter Meggs.

Who would form the government?

Who would form the government? It takes 14 votes to pass legislation. A stable government would be a coalition between the Liberals and either the Greens or the NDP. If the Liberal insisted on trying to govern alone, another option would be a coalition of the PCs plus Greens plus NDP. A third option, if coalitions were not possible, would be a minority government with an accord (a “confidence-and-supply agreement”) where the junior partner was free to move amendments and vote against government bills with the exception of budget bills and matters of confidence. If all else fails, the Liberals might form a minority government and bargain with the Greens and NDP case-by-case to get support from one or the other.   

2011 election

If this MMP system had been used in the 2015 election, how would it have worked out?

Since the Liberals got over 50%, they would have a majority government. With 51.4% of the vote they would have 14 MLAs. If they elected 14 Local MLAs as I think they would have, they would have elected no Island-wide top-up MLAs. PC voters would have elected four Local MLAs and seven Island-wide MLAs. Green and NDP voters would have elected one Island-wide MLA each, such as Green leader Sharon Labchuk and NDP leader James Rodd or top vote-getter Jacquie Robichaud. The 2007 election would have been just like 2011.

2000 election

An interesting change would have been the 2000 election when PC Premier Pat Binns won every seat but one. Under MMP he would have won 17 of the 18 local seats, but Liberal voters would have elected 8 MLAs: one local, and seven Island-wide. NDP voters would have re-elected Herb Dickieson as well as electing one other MLA like Gary Robichaud, giving the legislature a real and more diverse opposition.