13 October 2007

Postmortem on electoral reform

Unlike many pundits who assume electoral reform is dead after wednesday's referendum, Andrew Coyne begs to differ: Electoral reform will rise again.

The 37% of Ontario voters who voted in favour of the proposed mixed member proportional (MMP) scheme is within a few percentage points of the 42% who voted for Dalton McGuinty’s Liberals..., who were variously said to have won a massive, historic, decisive majority. It was about as many as voted for the “majority” NDP government in 1990, or the “majority” federal Liberal government in 1997.

Unfair, you say: Mr. McGuinty had more than one opponent. But what is common to all of the other parties is that voters preferred them to Mr. McGuinty’s Liberals. In the race between Dalton and Not Dalton, the Dalton party suffered a decisive defeat. Yet Mr. McGuinty is today congratulated on his majority government, while MMP, in the words of a National Post editorial, “took a pasting.”

What is remarkable, Coyne observes, is that as many as 37 percent of voters in this province voted in favour of MMP, despite a "blizzard of misinformation." "If not quite a ringing endorsement of MMP, it suggests a significant level of dissatisfaction with the status quo — a conclusion amplified by the abysmal turnout, a historic low of 52%."

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