Monday, October 08, 2007

A Question On MMP?

I was thinking about voting on Wednesday, and how my ballot is essentially meaningless, since I live in a solid PC, rural riding. I'm sure I'm not alone in seeing the contrast of civic duty and meaningless exercise. Which leads me to a question- in countries where MMP has been enacted, has it lead to increased voter turnout?

I vote regardless, but for the casual person, how does the futility affect their participation. On the surface it would seem MMP would increase turnout, because no matter your geographic circumstance, you have a motivation, knowing that your vote transfers somehow. Anyone know?


Oxford County Liberals said...

There is incomplete data on that. Some say it doesn't.. one study I saw says it does.

The fact is however that voter turnout rates are higher in countries with MMP or some other type of PR system then those with FPTP like Canada.

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I wrote about that back here (saying that the data is inconclusive, so reformers shouldn't make the argument that it does increase turnout). However, I was corrected in comments by none other than Matthew Soberg Shugart, a professor of political science at the University of California at San Diego and one of the U.S.'s foremost electoral systems scholars. I'm a well-read amateur on the subject, but Shugart is a professional--and so I'm in the decidedly weird position of advising you to side with him and not me on this one. *grin*

Idiot/Savant said...

It hasn't in New Zealand, though our turnout is much higher than Canada's (what seems to drive it here is the political mood, a sense of whether an election really matters and whether we want to throw out a government or stop a particular opposition leader).

OTOH, it might give people in your position a solid reason to vote - because their vote really will matter again.

Anonymous said...

I was going to vote No and then today all the Cons sending letter to everyone to vote no I guess this means I will vote YES ...i really cant stand they are trying to take away McGuintys' vote by saying he said he already won...they really piss me off...

Lord Kitchener's Own said...

There's also a long-term/short term issue. Almost everywhere where a change like this has been made there's an increase in voter turnout (including NZ) but whether that change is SUSTAINED is another question entirely (NZ has gone back to basically their pre-1993 turnout levels I think).

Often, an increase in turnout is temporary to some degree (which is why adopting MMP isn't the ONLY reform we need to make to our politics!!!).

Personally, turnout is somewhat less important to me as an issue. People are going to turnout in the numbers they're going to turnout in. My bigger concern is that their votes are reflected in the legislature! What a refreshing change THAT would be! That said, I do know literally dozens of people who don't vote because they know before an election is even called which party is going to win their riding (as I knew long, long ago that my Toronto riding is going to go Liberal... it just is) so at least with MMP there's added INCENTIVE for these people to vote, since the fact that their local riding is virtually guaranteed to go to one particular party doesn't mean their vote on election day is (essentially) meaningless. Whether people will actually VOTE when given a greater incentive is another question entirely, but the INCENTIVE will be greater.

David Graham - said...

In Germany, MMP was adopted following the second world war, so it is difficult to measure seeing as they came out of a system of pure PR that led to a fascist government which didn't make elections its highest priority.

Scotland adopted MMP from no elections whatsoever.

New Zealand adopted MMP in 1993 and while its turnout went up in the first election, it dropped to lower than pre-MMP numbers following the election and in 2002, less than a decade after they adopted MMP, it had fallent to the lowest in the country's history. Under FPTP, New Zealand had turnout in the high 80%s. Under
MMP it has sunk to the low 70%s.

Algeria is the only country I know of where turnout went up after adopting MMP -- to 120%. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

The electoral system I don't think has any bearing on the voter turnout. The main influence is in public involvement in the process. MMP does nothing to shift the involvement to the public and away from the party memberships and so there is no reason to believe MMP will help voter cynicism or apathy, or improve turnout.

I grew up in a Bloc/PQ riding and for all the frustration of that, I don't believe the addition of party lists to the political structure would make up for it in any way.

Oxford County Liberals said...

Well, David.. I disagree.. I think it helps you in exactly that scenario. You might not still have any hope in heck of electing the candidate you like in your riding, but your vote for the party of your choice will go in the overall formula to help with the proportional side of the vote.

When people realize that, I believe they will come out to vote, knowing its not altogether a wasted vote.

David Graham - said...


I would be truly shocked if you agreed with me. That would require being open minded. :)

The notion that someone appointed from a party list based on my proportional list represents me is, to me, completely absurd. The proportional side says yes, I think this party should have seats, but the party can choose whoever it wants for those seats, and I don't see that as an improvement. Those people do represent the party that I will have voted for, but they do not represent me.

It is the responsibility of the supporter of someone other than the incumbent to convince their peers that their representative is not representing them. The Green party's current advances in Bruce Grey Owen Sound, where they are in shooting distance of ousting the Tory incumbent, and a similar scenario in Guelph are evidence that an attitude that you can change the status quo instead of a defeatism that says you need to create a back door to get in the house is the way to accomplish change.

Bailey said...

Here's a link to a study by Stats Canada on who votes and why people vote:

Anonymous said...

So the party gets more seats, that will vote at the leaders behest, and cost us more salaries.

Why not just give those extra votes directly to the leader and let him decide how to use them.

Same result, less cost.

Steve V said...

Thanks for the feedback. It would seem MMP and increased turnout isn't a given, which I actually find surprising.