Posts Tagged ‘parties in the election’

Dalton McGuinty discovers momentum.

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

While shocked scientists have learned that Einstein’s orthodoxy of the speed of light has been challenged, Tim Hudak and his Conservatives are in trouble with the scientific truths of momentum. They have lost it.  After months of a high flying lead in the polls, they are mired in the doldrums of a disappointed electorate.  The tortoise Liberals are sitting at the October 6 finish line, waiting for the Hudak hares.

Hudak’s handlers are looking to Tuesday’s televised leadership debate for the Hail Mary play.  They are desperate.  They will be twice as desperate after the debate as McGuinty will not disappoint the voters.  They do not expect much from him and that is what he will deliver.

Mind you, Tiny Tim has every reason to be disappointed with Andrea Horwath.  The NDP is not picking up the support from McGuinty that the Tories counted on.  Some of the Liberal vote had to be bled off by the NDP to produce a clear majority for Tiny Tim’s Conservatives.  The Tory brain trust saw how a resurgent NDP gave Stephen Harper’s federal party a majority in May and they counted on it in the fall.  The Andrea band wagon is not happening.

Maybe if the NDP leader gets some intense body shaping and a really sexy dress for Tuesday’s TV event, she could make a difference.  She is already an attractive woman but her picket-line Polly persona is a bit grating.  She not only needs to lighten up but she needs to figure out what the voters really want from her.  She has yet to connect.

Not that Dalton McGuinty has ever really connected but he has the one ingredient with which Hudak cannot compete: trust.  After months of paying for those awful commercials hammering at McGuinty as the ‘Taxman,’ people still trust the premier more than Hudak.  Beside McGuinty, Hudak is but a callow youth.

Mind you, it is not over yet.  The fat lady sings on October 6 as the ballots are counted.  It really does not matter if pollsters make automated telephone calls to four people, 400 people, 4000 or 40,000.  People do not like those calls.  Most do not answer.  They hang up with expletives deleted.  They lie, they ridicule.  They have a high rate of inaccuracy.       The only poll that matters is the report from the electoral offices.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

An Ontario election update.

Friday, September 16th, 2011

The October 6 provincial election might be recorded as the most boring and predictable election in Ontario history.  To-date, there is really nothing interesting to write about.  Premier Dalton McGuinty is doing much better than expected.  Challenger Tim Hudak, the Conservative leader, is stumbling and fumbling and looking less like any kind of leader every day.  The NDP’s secret weapon, Andrea Horwath, is remaining a secret.

There was a clip on the TV news the other day of Premier Dalton McGuinty looking human.  Somebody brought a dog onto where he was doing the daily stand-up scene and he made a comment about dogs and politicians.  Believe it or not, he laughed. He made a comment that came across as honest and relaxed.  It was the first time voters have seen him not looking like he has a broom up his rear.  The Liberals should take the campaign away from the broom-up-their-rear people who have been running McGuinty’s campaign and just run the clip with the dog as a commercial for the rest of the campaign.  That would be an easy win.

At the same time ‘Tiny Tim’ Hudak is taking Ontario’s Tories down a slippery slope.  His campaign has lost focus.  For a guy who stayed so on-script for the previous seven months, it is hard to explain what has happened to him.  His first critical error was to bite on the Liberal’s tax credit for helping new Canadians gain some work experience.  Calling new Canadians ‘foreigners’ is a foolish thing to do when you are trying to win the new Canadian vote.  And then he became mired in technology that he did not understand.  He has no comprehension of the problems related to Global Positioning Systems and computer monitoring but he is touting a provincial monitoring system for sex offenders that would make the problems and costs of eHealth look like small change.

We hear the NDP are rushing out a 30-second commercial that tries to humanize a very human lady.  That will further confuse the message.  As things stand, the NDP brain trust has left a trail of confused voters across the province and some of them had wanted to vote NDP.

What both the Conservatives and NDP have forgotten is that it is not the people who normally vote for your party who you need to win.  You have to win among the truly undecided.  It would help if you even win some of your opponents’ supporters. They need a reason to vote for you.  And attack ads are dangerous when there are more than two parties.

It should always be remembered that in May 2008, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives had spend millions trashing Liberal Michael Ignatieff.  In the election, the Conservatives increased their vote by two per cent of Canadian voters.  The NDP spent that campaign on a positive note promoting their leader Jack Layton.  The NDP improved their vote by better than 12 per cent.

But politicians are the last to change.

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Copyright 2011 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me

The Democracy Papers.

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

This is the sixth of the Democracy Papers written in 2007 in answer to the Ontario referendum that year on electoral reform.  The referendum was defeated but the need for reform continues to rankle.  We believe Canada must have an elected Constitutional Conference.  Electoral reform is just one of the topics to be brought to the gathering.  For this reason, the Democracy Papers are being updated and rerun.

Chapter 6 – Examining proportional voting.

Have you wondered why those who support proportional voting in the October referendum only mention two examples of legislative bodies that are elected by that method?   There are other examples and some of them have important lessons to share with Ontario voters.

The poster child of proportional voting is New Zealand.   That country has had mixed-member proportional (MMP) voting for the past ten years.   All most Ontario voters know about New Zealand is that the people speak English, the South Island has the mountains and the small country exports a lot of frozen lamb.   The Ontario voters who could name the prime minister of New Zealand might not be more than two in a thousand.

The other example, only mentioned in passing, is Germany.   Proportional voting has existed in some of the German states and in that country’s federal government since the days of the Weimar Republic.   MMP was just a temporary compromise after the Second World War.

Proportional voting is one of the most common voting systems in the world as many third world countries use it to overcome low literacy rates among voters.   It is much easier for an illiterate voter to choose a party symbol rather than deal with the complexity of candidates’ names.   Ontario does not have a major problem with voters’ literacy.

There are many variations of proportional voting.   The best example of pure proportional voting is the system used to elect the Knesset of the State of Israel.   This has been the system used since the first election in the new state in 1949.   The number and make-up of political parties shift as the do sands of the desert areas of the country.   The large cabinets are usually made up of representatives of various parties.

An important example of mixed-member proportional representation is the House of Representatives that forms part of Japan’s Diet.   The appointed members and elected members do not always enjoy friendly relations.   Riots in the Diet are an embarrassment to their countrymen.

A closer example of proportional voting is in the United States where the system is used to select the President.   The Electoral College, charged with selecting the President, is elected state by state on a proportional basis.   If the Americans used FPTP voting for President, Al Gore would have won the election in 2000 against George Bush.

A number of cities in the United States have also experimented with proportional voting systems.   Most notable was New York City.   It implemented proportional voting in 1936 in an attempt to clean up imbedded corruption in the city government. This voting system was revoked after a decade by what many claimed were the elites who were unhappy about the number of radicals, blacks and communists who were getting elected.   More importantly, the proportional voting system earned the enmity of the major newspapers and the experiment ended.

Most of Europe, as well as the European Parliament, use proportional systems of one sort or another.   One notable exception is France.   The French instituted proportional voting after the Second World War but switched back to FPTP in the late 1950s.   With the exception of the federal election of 1986, the French have preferred their system of run-off elections that ensures all successful candidates have a majority of votes.

The mother of parliaments, Great Britain, has held onto first-past-the-post voting in single candidate ridings.   Despite this, the country has gone along with proportional voting on representatives to the European Parliament.   The devolved governing bodies of Scotland and Wales which could be looked on as provincial bodies (unless you are a Scot or Welsh) are using MMP voting.

While the majority of countries in South America use proportional representation to elect their governments, only Bolivia and Venezuela use mixed (both constituency and list candidates) representation similar to what has been suggested in Ontario.   Closer to home, the next major country to use mixed representation is Mexico.   It is possible that those promoting MMP have decided not to say to people in Ontario: “Let’s have a government just like Mexico’s.”

What becomes clear as you examine the various countries and their electoral systems is that the dynamic countries that offer the leadership to the rest of the world are mainly those countries that have retained first-past-the-post electoral systems.   The countries that have opted for proportional systems are mainly countries that are trying (though not always succeeding) to develop a consensus approach to governance.

For all the weaknesses and frustrations of first-past-the-post, the conclusion is that North Americans like it.   They know it is a system that forces candidates to take the time, make the effort and show the determination to win.   Our first-past-the-post electoral system challenges the candidates, not the voters.   It is the voters who benefit.

©Copyright 2007, 2011, Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me