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April 13, 2009

BC-STV Debate in CKNW Audio Vault

Why, in response to a question on how votes are counted under BC-STV, would a leading supporter of the system say: "I'm not going to take your bait"?

That is one of several surprises that Dennis Pilon, who teaches in the University of Victoria's faculty of political science, offered in my "discussion" with him on CKNW's Bill Good show. Thanks to CKNW's audio vault, the debate is preserved for anyone who clicks on the link and scrolls to Mon Apr. 13, 9:00 am.

Pilon also said:

  • In practice, most people vote party with STV.
  • What we'll probably have under STV is a minority or coalition government.
  • STV is slightly less proportional than the other systems (referring to other PR systems).
  • If you go to Ireland and you ask them, do you understand how the vote count works, they'll tell you no.
  • STV is very complicated to count.

You won't be hearing any of those admission in advertisements placed by BC-STV supporters!

Throughout the debate Pilon insisted that with STV competition would change the behavior of politicians. That is hard to support when one looks at the few countries that use STV.

Take a look at Ireland today where, as in much of Europe, the political parties are very active in local elections. Local and European Parliament elections are scheduled for June 5th. Irish papers are full of stories about Fianna Fail candidates facing annihilation in June. In The Claire People on April 13th, Joe O'Muircheartaigh wrote: "Party insiders have expressed their fears for Fianna Fáil candidates' chances in the election, as a hail of criticism rained down on the two Oireachtas members over their decision to toe the party line over the closure of 24-hour A and E at the hospital." Despite claims by BC-STV proponents, it is routine to find complaints about Irish members of parliament (TDs) toeing the party line. Some might compare that to what is happening in B.C. in Delta South this election.

The online publication, Kilkenny People, offers insight into Ireland's "independents" who are frequently party stalwarts who lose a nomination fight only to turn around and run as an independent. Kilkenny People described Cllr Dixie Doyle of Thomastown who ten years ago ran as an independent after losing a nomination. According to the paper: "Since being elected he has voted with Fianna Fáil on almost all occasions. So if other independent FF candidates are elected will they adopt the same strategy." The paper then went on to offer the advice that: "Of course with the party's fortunes in a tailspin at present, many FF hopefuls might be better off going as independents and then doing a 'Dixie' afterwards."

Before anyone thinks that adopting BC-STV changes politics, they should have a close look at how politics are really practiced where STV is used; alternatively, just look at what some STV supporters admit when pressed on the weaknesses of that complex system.


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