BC-STV Produce Coalitions?
support for BC-STV take a hit from the backlash against the
sheet 13" published by the Citizens' Assembly, STV
is more likely to produce coalition governments. The question
and answer section on the Assembly's
website said: "The Assembly believes that minority
and coalition governments can in practice be a strength, because
they encourage MLAs to work together."
Ipsos-Reid poll showed only 29% support for the coalition
to replace the Harper government. Some objected to not having
the coalition on the ballot on October 14th, but in countries
where they are common, parties rarely campaign as a coalition.
Coalitions are usually formed after an election, although
there is an argument that in Harper's case he received a confidence
vote on the Throne Speech. It will be interesting to see if
proponents of STV continue to promote coalition or minority
government as an "advantage" that flows from adopting
of the assertions made by proponents of BC-STV cannot be verified,
including the claim that STV is more likely to produce coalition
governments because it is more likely to elect MLAs from more
than two parties. Actual experience with STV, apart from municipal
elections, is confined to Ireland, Malta, the Australian Senate
and Tasmania. Only two parties have ever had their candidates
elected to Malta's parliament, although other parties continually
try. By contrast, with
our existing first-past-the-post (FPTP) electoral system,
British Columbians elected MLAs from four different political
parties (NDP, Social Credit, Reform and Liberal) as recently
as 1991 and from three different parties in 1996.
registered political parties in BC. They don't all run
candidates in all of the ridings, but most of them run candidates
in one or more ridings. It is hard to support any claim that
FPTP limits the choice offered voters or the ability of small
parties to elect MLAs in BC; witness the Reform Party in 1991
or Gordon Wilson's Progressive Democratic Alliance in 1996.
The issue for STV enthusiasts is not electing an MLA or two
from small parties as much as it is about holding the balance
of power in a coalition government.
no apparent reason, STV proponents are fond of claiming that
the voting system would be the same, and yield similar results,
in BC as it is in Ireland where coalition governments are
common. There are big differences between Ireland and BC:
1) BC is less homogeneous (Ireland is predominately white
and Catholic), 2) Ireland has 166 Members of Parliament for
roughly the same population for which BC would have only 85
MLAs, 3) Ireland is 70,280 sq km while the Northwest, just
one of BC's 20 BC-STV electoral districts, is 367,529 - more
than 5 times larger than all of Ireland.
is no reason to believe that a government formed after an
election using BC-STV would be like Ireland's or any other.
British Columbians would be rolling the dice with a new electoral
system and would have no basis for predicting the consequences.
Proponents of BC-STV seem to think that their wish list for
curing all that ails politics would be delivered by changing
how we vote. The only thing that can be said for certain about
BC-STV is not about what kind of government it might deliver
but about what the 20 regions with 85 MLAs would look like,
how votes are cast and how votes are counted. The counting
is frequently glossed over as being too complicated; it
doesn't treat all votes equally.
is a safe bet that with the goings-on in Ottawa, STV enthusiasts
will downplay their previous predictions for coalition governments
should BC-STV be adopted on May 12th.