Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Multiple parties are a bad thing?

On MMP: Officially Screwed opines:

an MMP system will let every small interest group form a party in an effort to garner 4% of the vote and get a representative in the assembly. The proposed system for Ontario would only require 3% making it that much more fringe party friendly. Here is a brief list of some of the party names [in Italy].

Daisy-Democracy is Freedom Party
Rose in the Fist Party
Italian Radicals
Party of Italian Communists
S.O.S. Italy Party

The good news is that these parties didn't combine their votes. I prefer a divided left to a united one.

Whether the voter votes for the Radicals or the NDP, that vote will be a left-wing vote. It might be for one party or another.

New Zealand has a strong party system in place. The first political party was founded in 1891, and its main rival was founded in 1909 — from that point until a change of electoral system in 1996, New Zealand had a two-party system in place. Today, New Zealand has a genuinely multi-party system, with eight parties currently represented in Parliament. Neither of the two largest parties have been able to govern without support from other groups since 1996, meaning that coalition government is required.

If the choice is between two parties with stable governments-- where you have no other choices-- or a less stable government with several parties, I think the latter is better.

Stability is fine and good, but what about representation? If a government doesn't truly represent the views of the voter, what good is it if it's stable? If a majority can be reached with 40% of the vote, then 60% of the people's views aren't represented. That means a stable, long-term government doesn't have to take into account those 60%, and it does whatever it wants.

That's not democracy.

With several parties, yes, maybe there are more elections, and maybe less gets done, but what does get done actually has some relationship to what the population wants.

With more elections-- the population gets to get more say in how events unfold-- that's not a bad thing. There are elections in the US every two years-- I don't hear of too many Americans complaining about that.

During the Liberal Regime at the federal level, the Liberal Party was definitively stable, passed a good deal of legislation (some of which was opposed by the majority of the people) yet it only got 40% of the vote.

Right now, the Conservative government-- a minority-- may not be getting a lot done, but the silver lining is that he is careful to make sure that his laws have enough approval for them to be passed. The same would hold true under a Liberal one. Under MMP, a government would be that careful in its approach. That is not a bad thing. In fact, it would encourage a conservative approach to governing. Radical socialists couldn't just decide to implement every cockamamie plan that passed through their head-- they'd have to make sure the more conservative elements of their coalition would not balk.

It seems to me this is a far better check on government power than FPTP.

The current system may not always get your favourite party in power, but whomever is in power will be able to run the show without having to make a bunch of back room deals for support.

"Back room deals" are how voters get their input on forming governments and their policy. I prefer a government made with "backroom deals" that represent 50%+ of the population, than a government that has no backroom deals, only represents 40% of the voters and essentially turns the legislature into a one-party state for four years.

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