Wednesday 3 October 2007

MMP - Mixed Member Proportional Quiz

This is a quiz to see if you know the facts about MMP. It mainly focuses on the common myths about MMP.

1) With the Mixed Member Proportional (MMP) system, there will be less seats in parliament.
a) True
b) False

2) The MMP List candidates will not be elected, they will be appointed by the party.
a) True
b) False

3) MMP is less fair democratically than FPTP (First Past The Post - our current system).
a) True
b) False

4) If MMP gets in, the new election ballots will be confusing.
a) True
b) False

5) With MMP, there will be decreased accesibility to government.
a) True
b) False

6) With MMP, If no party wins a majority and we end up with minority governments, nothing will get done.
a) True
b) False

7) Proportional Reprensentation (which MMP is a form of) does not work well in most countries that use it.
a) True
b) False

8) With MMP, fringe parties will hijack the government and hold the balance of power.
a) True
b) False

9) Voters will have more incentive to vote in an MMP system.
a) True
b) False

10) MMP will do away with the need for strategic voting.
a) True
b) False

1) False.
Currently, there are 107 seats in the Ontario parliament. With MMP there will be 129 seats - 90 local seats and 39 list seats - all elected by the voters.

2) False
The List candidates will be chosen much the same way that local candidates are chosen - nominated and elected by party members in an open and democratic fashion, and then elected by the voters of Ontario - the Citizens' Assembly for Electoral Reform recommended this, and the 4 main political parties have officially stated that this is how they would select the List candidates.

3) False
With MMP, each party gets the same proportion of seats in parliament as the proportion of votes they got in the election.
With FPTP, each party gets the number of seats they won in the election, and all the votes that went to parties that did not win in each riding are wasted - resulting in a disproportionate number of seats being alloted in parliament. Example: Currently, the Liberal party has far more seats in parliament than the proportion of votes they received in the last election (giving them a majority government but with a minority of the popular vote). And, the Conservative and NDP parties have proportionately less seats in parliament than the proportion of votes they received in the last election. The governing Liberal party has a majority of seats in parliament, yet, they only got about 40% of the vote.

4) False
With MMP, there will be 2 choices - one for the local candidate, and one for the party.
Currently, with FPTP, there is one choice - for the local candidate

5) False
With MMP there will be increased accesibility to government. There will be your local representative, as well as party list (at-large) representatives to chose from.
From VoteForMMP: What do at-large representatives do?
Typically, at-large representatives will open constituency offices in their own region to provide an alternative to the riding representatives from other parties. In others words, voters in a region could choose to contact their riding representative or an at-large representative from their own party to help with problems or discuss issues.
Some at-large representatives may also have strong skills or expertise in a particular policy area and focus on legislative committee work. Others may focus on serving particular groups of Ontarians who are not concentrated in any one riding or region.
In summary, the MMP voting system gives voters stronger and better representation than we have now, by providing us with both local representatives and at-large representatives.

6) False
With the new system of MMP, parties will be forced to spend more time working for the people instead of working against the other parties.
From Vote For MMP: Since a majority of voters seldom support a single party, fair election results mean that seldom will a single party have majority control of government. Instead, two or more parties will have to negotiate, compromise and cooperate to form government and pass legislation.
Under the current voting system, minority governments are always unstable because parties know they can gain majority control with as little as 40 per cent of the popular vote. A small shift in voter preferences is enough to collapse a minority government under first-past-the-post, so stable and cooperative working relationships among parties are seldom formed. Mindless bickering and confrontation are more typical.
Under proportional voting systems, parties know they will gain no more or no fewer seats than deserved. The incentive is to find long-term coalition partners and work productively within a culture of negotiation and compromise.
Research has shown that coalition governments tend to be better than singleparty governments at producing legislation more in line with public thinking. But that’s only logical. Coalition majority governments are formed by representatives of the majority of voters – unlike Canada’s “majority” governments put in power by only 40% of the voters.
Generally, two or more like-minded parties, who together represent a majority of voters, agree to form a coalition government. Their compromise agenda will generally focus on areas of policy agreement, not the most radical positions of the smaller party. If two parties representing a majority of voters have common policy interests, that often indicates majority public support for those policies.
Another important safeguard is that any major party or political leader adopting an agenda out-of step with its own support base will be severely punished at the next election. In fact, the logic of coalition-building is the opposite of the tail wagging the dog. It’s more like the dog choosing the tail that fits.

7) False
Proportional Representation does work well in most countries that use it.
From Vote For MMP: Critics often point to [Italy and Israel] as “proof” that proportional voting systems create political chaos. Let’s apply some perspective. With 81 nations using proportional systems, critics can find only these two extreme examples. To say Italy and Israel are typical political cultures under proportional representation is like saying Zimbabwe and Nigeria are typical political cultures under first-past-the-post. Critics don’t like to talk about Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, or the many dozens of stable governments and healthy economies with proportional voting systems and coalition governments.
In fact, a landmark comparative study on effective government demonstrated that countries using proportional systems readily match and often exceed the economic and social performance of nations run by single-party governments (usually false majorities). This is not surprising, as proportional voting systems create governments that are more representative and accountable.
In New Zealand, where they switched to MMP back in 1993, the new system has proven to be very stable with only one early election since MMP was adopted.

The majority of democratic nations now use a form of proportional representation - especially in Europe.

8) False
There will be a threshold of 3% of the popular vote that a party must pass in order to gain any seats. And, even if a fringe party gains enough support to get a few seats, it is more likely that a major party will form a coalition with another large party that it has more in common with. If you look at other countries that have MMP, this issue is not a problem.
Also, once we choose to have MMP, items like the threshold will be discussed and adjusted if the government decides it is too low or too high, before MMP is actually implemented.

9) True
With MMP, every vote counts. You will be able to vote for the party whose platform most closely resembles your own views and actually elect someone from that party. You will be able to vote for the local candidate AND a party. And the number of seats in parliament will proportionately represent the popular vote.
Currently, with FPTP, if you vote for a party (via the local candidate) and that party loses in your riding, your vote is wasted. The seating in parliament per party is disproportionate to the popular vote.

10) True
With MMP you can vote for who you really want to with confidence that your vote will count and you will gain a representative for that party.
With FPTP, if you don't vote for the winner in your riding, you don't get a representative of your party. This often leads to people switching their vote and voting for a party they don't like in order to keep another party they like even less from getting in.

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