More Confusion on PR from the Star

The editors of the Toronto Star hate proportional representation with a strange sort of passion that drives them to eagerly cling to any evidence they can use to purport to show that PR is a bad thing. Today we have yet another sorry example:

“Canadian advocates of electoral reform should take a long hard look at the results of this week’s election in Israel.

No fewer than 12 parties won seats in the Knesset. They range from mainstream parties like Kadima, Likud and Labour to fringe groups with various ethnic or religious orientations, like Hadash, Balad, Jewish Home and United Torah Judaism.”

So what? We have a “fringe group” with a regional orientation dedicated to the break-up of this country.

“Israel has an electoral system known as ‘proportional representation,’ under which parties are allocated seats according to their percentage of the popular vote. Advocates say it is fairer than our system, known as “first past the post,” where the winner is the candidate with a plurality in each riding. Electoral reformers say this leads to ‘wasted’ votes, whereas with proportional representation ‘every vote counts.'”

That’s because the votes are wasted in FPTP systems. If you don’t vote for the winning party in your area, your vote means nothing.

“Unfortunately, however, proportional representation also acts as an incentive to parties to form along narrow lines, sometimes religious or ethnic, as we can see in Israel.”

Again, the same thing in Canada, but just with regional biases.

“Electoral reformers cry foul over any comparison to Israel, where the threshold for getting a seat in the Knesset is only 2 per cent. But all 12 parties that won seats in this week’s election actually received at least 3 per cent of the popular vote.

What was the threshold chosen by the citizens assembly in Ontario that recommended a form of proportional representation for this province in 2007? The same 3 per cent.”

This essentially begs the question by assuming that it is a terrible tragedy to have 12 parties in a parliament.

“Now comes the next stage in Israeli politics – the backroom horse-trading as the larger parties try to attract support from the smaller ones in order to form a government. Typically, that support is offered in exchange for adoption of a key plank in the smaller party’s platform.

For Canadians who were shocked by the backroom deal late last year that led to the formation of a “coalition” to supplant the Conservatives in office, this kind of horse-trading is another reason to think twice about bringing proportional representation here.”

Heh. This part is funny. You see, now the election is over and the public is very much aware of the trade-offs going on between these parties. The same trade-offs happen in the big brokerage parties (i.e.: the Conservatives and the Liberals) in Canada as well. Take the Cons, they have to balance big business, social conservatives, libertarians and others in creating a platform. It is no different from the deal making that happens in Israel – it’s just that everyone can see who has compromised what.

Bonus: nice of the Star – an ostensibly liberal and Liberal paper – to adopt the Harper attitude that the coalition was some how unseemly or illegitimate.

Update: Queer-Liberal has more.

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2 responses to “More Confusion on PR from the Star

  1. It’s not “confusion” over at the TO. It’s deliberate misdirection. And judging by the comments over there, it appears most people recognize this.

    My own comment on the site:

    “Opponents of proportional representation always point to Israel and, Look! See how bad democracy is with PR! Why is it always Israel? Why not any of the other countries which use a proportional representation system – you know the countries I mean, vibrant democracies such as Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Spain, Netherlands, Austria, … in fact ANY of the European countries? It’s because such examples show precisely how successful PR can be in representing the values and wishes of the people. But then the Star would have to change its position and that would never do.”

  2. TW,
    I meant that they were causing confusion. You’re 100% that they are propagandists for the status quo.

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