Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Proportional representation addendum

Addendum to my last post:

In the 2004 federal election, the Bloc Québecois received 54 seats in Parliament. Under a Mixed-Member Proportional electoral system, they would have received 39.

Remind me again which one is the system that disproportionately exaggerates the influence of regional and ethnic parties?


angryroughneck said...

Monday, September 19, 2005
German Paradise?

Here are the top 8 reasons Canada should never have Proportional representation.

1)Minority party votes are constantly sold for funding towards whatever special interest the selling party represents.

2)The proportional representation methodology increases voter apathy as it quickly becomes a system where votes must be bought in order to form a coalition government.

3)It validates the public’s sense of government corruption as it’s an electoral system that favors and demands political deals.

4)The ridiculous amount of compromise eradicates ideology and makes long term vision impossible

5)Essentially you move from an electoral system where the majority party determines policy into one in which the party with the fewest votes does.

6)The proportional system is in fact less proportional as it has the uncanny ability to lock old political hacks into their position.
When a party receives 10 percent of the vote they allowed to choose which members of their party will represent their party in legislature, which is good for longtime serving senior party faithful, but is counterproductive to getting new blood and ideas into government.

7)Proportional representation is inherently against principles making it range of the moment pragmatic whim worship. Long range vision requires principle

8)Once Proportional Representation has been legislated further electoral form becomes next to impossible. Picture Canada’s attempt at negotiating a charter between three regionalized interests, and the endless amounts of stalling, compromise and redundancy, and ultimately futility involved that process. Imagine trying to agree on similar monumental reform with over 100 special interest groups being represented. Change would only happen through revolution. Reason would be invalidated as a political tool and thus parties world switch to force when trying to mandate change.

Although I see your argument as flawed, your ability to reason seems strong and I wsill be following your blog.

-Angry Roughneck

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


That's some great theory. Care to share some actual hands-on data from some real situations in systems where they have proportional represenation? I provided examples; the least you can do is the same.

KevinG said...

Many opponents like to paint PR systems as some sort of political goo in which no policy, principle effective government can arise.

It doesn't seem to be supported by actual examples. Even Israel, which is usually held up as the PR boogie man, has undertaken the withdrawal from Gaza: as daunting a task as any democracy would want to undertake.

I think you made an excellent distinction in the previous post between coalitions and minority government.

Thanks for the Idealist Pragmatism.

angryroughneck said...

So all I have to do is give you a few examples and you concede the argument? Fair enough I will, but now i know that you are a naive pragmatist if you are unable to debate the worthiness of an idea or principle with reason.

1) Look at govt budgets of PR countries compared to their GDP spending. IE-- Israel and Belgium budgets are 120% of their GDP as compared to Britain and the US around which sit around 50%
2)PR countries in Europe are suffering declining voter turn out rates across the board-- this is apathy
3) Poland's first PR election turnout was at 40% in 1990 compared to the previous presidential election which had a turn out of 60%.
4)In that same election Poland had over 100 parties running. How can over 100 parties all with vastly different ideologies come to compromise. Belgium and Germany have both had NEO Nazis win seats-- how do you compromise with these groups? You can't, so instead the country, without intellectual guidance stagnates. Look at market reforms, that were supposed to happen in Poland once it became free--none happened, most companies are still nationalized.
5)Once again just a boring use of logic.
6)Look at Italy here, and then use commen sense. think we'd ever get rid of Ed Broadbent if voters were unable to vote him out. Party politics is based on loyalty--just look at who's appointed to the Canadian senate-- New up and comers? I think not, instead old party hacks!
7) Long range vision needs principles!
8)Look at Canada attempt to write a modern constitution while catering to special interests. Impossible. And how would market reform happen once PR is instituted? It couldn't.
You should answer my reasons with logic. tell me why I am wrong

angryroughneck said...

You should also see my article all about pragmatism. I would welcome and answer all of your comments. It is a current post(maybe a week old)

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


Thanks! Good to find another PR supporter out there.


Hey, I didn't say some concrete data would make me give in; I just thought it made sense for both sides of this discussion to bring some concrete, real-world examples to the table, instead of just me. It's a good way, too, to figure out whether you actually know what you're talking about. It sounds like you're at least somewhat informed, but are wrong about a couple of things and are making some unwarranted assumptions about others.

Let's start here. Can you offer up evidence that Israel's and Belgium's budgets are as they are because of proportional representation? I don't think you can, because I don't think it's true. There are other PR countries where this is not the case; I'm sure you can even think of some yourself. I don't think you can show that with the Polish voter turnouts, either -- the turnout in NZ's first PR-based election wasn't lower. And I think you'd find that if you compared countries with MMP with countries with FPTP, you'd find that voter turnouts are generally much lower in the latter. A downturn in voter turnouts usually indicates apathy, but this apathy can be due to many things (which is why it's important to know something about the overall situation as well as the electoral system).

You're incorrect that Germany's had Neo-Nazis win seats; none of the right-wing parties have ever made it over the 5% hurdle. Which brings me to the most important misconception you seem to have -- this 5% hurdle is exactly what keeps things from splintering to the extent that you describe in your #4. It doesn't matter if there are 100 parties running if only three or four actually make it into parliament (which is what happens in practice).

I'm not sure what I was supposed to read into the Italian example -- a country that's formed a government for each year of its post-war existence, you mean? That's a pretty unstable thing, but it's not the Italian system that I've been talking about in my post. You seem generally to be labouring under the misconception that every PR-based system produces the same result, and so you're comparing apples with oranges, Israel with Belgium, Italy with Germany. It's just not true; some ways work much better than others. Some ways I would propose for Canada, while others I would definitely not.

angryroughneck said...

First off I will give you a few more facts, but I originally responded because your flawed philosophical premesis about PR predictibly produced flawed conclusions. when debating with the left, it is easy to get caught (to use the analgoy of a tree) worrying about branches, when it is the trunk or foundation that is rotten or falwed so of course all of the branches are equally rotten, thus it is somewhat useless continually pruning these branches, when the only solution is to chop down the tree. This is why I try to stick to the philosophical premesis and conclusion drawn from them, but your thirst for particular fact rages on without ever answering why my premesises are logically wrong.
1) Israels public debt is 104.9% of GDP and Belgium's is 96.9% as compared to the US and Britain which are at 65% and 36.9% respectively-- see CIA world handbook. I draw the conclusion that the endless ammounts of compromise and appeasement in fromning coalitions leads to overspending. See Martin appeasing NDP to the tune of 4.6 billion to get the votes required to stay in power(plus the endless side deals with provinces). I say that this eradicates ideology as the liberals do not philosophically support excessive NDP spending, but they are forced to abandon their priciples in order to hold onto power, which means they have abandoned principle and long range vision.
You also say that this endless compromise and eradication of differing ideology don't lead to apathy "that apathy can have many causes...blankout say nothing). But apathy is a logical responce to loss of empowerment and disillusionment, which are the result of the endless sidedeals and compromise and loss of ideology.
In regard to the tree analogy you may find it beneficial to read my last post -- how leftism is destroying the minds of our young

Idealistic Pragmatist said...


I require actual evidence because it's all too easy to draw flawed conclusions if you rely solely on theory and remain in the realm of ideas. In good science (and yes, this goes for good social science as well), we look not only for factors that prove our pet theory, but factors that might point us toward other possible explanations as well. You're not doing that. So when Israel and Belgium's spending supports your theory that PR leads to overspending, you aren't willing to actually wade in and figure out what other factors might be influencing those situations and why other PR situations don't exhibit the same traits. I'm unwilling to argue on that level.

I'm not discussing this as a leftist ideologue, but as a rational thinker who carefully examines evidence and draws conclusions from that. If you reach a point where you're more interested in level-headed, evidence-based discussion based on *all* the facts than you are on searching for any examples that will support your ideas, then by all means, I'm willing to listen. Until then, I have nothing more to say here.

angryroughneck said...

What facts have you asked for that I have be unwilling to provide? No number can draw conclusions. it is a mind that does that. No number can explain apathy. It is a mind that does that. No number can tell you why when all opinions are equally relevant it make all opinion irrelevent. Seriously what is the golden egg you are looking gor. I will try to find it.
PS what counter facts are you providing other than a deep seeded believe in sceptisimm

Idealistic Pragmatist said...

I asked you to demonstrate that Israel and Belgium's budgets, and Poland's lower voter turnout, are due to proportional representation and not other factors that you're not taking into account. I asked you to back up your claim that PR-based systems in general (as opposed to just a few implementations of them) have the problems you fear.

This isn't an overly daunting task; it's the way you make halfway decent arguments in any social science. It requires knowing what other factors might be influencing those issues, examining them, and ruling them out. It means comparing these situations to other ones, and concluding why certain things are one way in one situation and another way in others.

angryroughneck said...

Even our Canadian coalition has lead to increased spending. Do you accept this? Has Martin has not shelled out for NDP support. is this a wrong conclusion. And if it isn't, well PR makes coalition a rule.So what are the logical implications of this rule? How do you think you get green, far left...etc support other than by buying it?

For my Polish data I used Radek Sikorski (polish Journalist) article in the National Revies December 2, 1991
Some other sourses in regards to spending Mortimer B Zuckerman and an article published in the US News and World Report in June/28 1999. As well consult France's 1986 election (which made them abandon PR) when white supremacist Jean Marie Le Pen's party "the National Front won 33 seats.
But to the point; pick a premise and tell me why it is flawed. I'm only 28 but you make me feel like I'm back in University defending logical hypothesis against subjective moral equivlient attacks. Now I remeber why i left to make a living instead of becoming a brainwashing proff. I scoff at identity politics. the left only supports diversity if it comes in the form of superficial traits like skin color, but when it comes to ideas-- no way! VIVA intellectual freedom!