Monday, October 25, 2004

Carr's Dilemma 

Rick Hiebert on the Shotgun is crossing his fingers that BC will not adopt the Citizens' Assembly's STV proposal. While I don't have quite the extent of mistrust for STV as Rick, I have qualms over the system's inherent complexity and slowness, which I have go into detail on my previous post.

But what I am thankful for is that the Citizens' Assembly did not support a Mixed-Member Proportional system, best described as tacking on proportionality onto the current system by giving extra seats to disadvantaged parties. The system usually gives party leaders and insiders even more control over who gets on the ballot, since voters essentially surrender their choice of whom in the party to be elected to the party itself. Local nominations give freedom to residents to choose who's best for them, while party-wide votes are likely to be dominated by internal politics and quota rules for women and racial minorities (for the Left, at least).

And so, with the weakening of central party control promised by STV, it is no surprised that Adriane Carr of the BC Greens has lashed out against the Citizens' Assembly's recommendation (via The Public Eye):
"STV is even more adversarial than the system we have now. It’s not truly proportional. It entrenches big vested parties. It’s rock bottom in terms of getting women elected. And it still leaves too many voters frustrated by their votes not counting," explains Carr. "It’s not much better than the system we have, taking us forward an inch when we need to go a mile," adds Carr.
Read again the complaints. The "adversarial" and "women" can be translated as: "you're not giving the parties enough power to control voter stupidity. They must be given enlightened, progressive choices!" Proportionality is overrated: why should a party that has a low first preference but is the second preference of a large population be denied a voice behind that of a party with a slightly larger first preference but weak later preferences? And the "big vested parties" line is a pure lie, as anyone in Australia can attest: Aussie Senators are elected by STV, and the upper chamber is the only one with minor parties, including (cough) the Greens.

My theory is that Carr is pissed because a system that practically guarantees her own place in the Legislature (MMP) has been shot down by a system that demands that she gets some sort of local support somewhere (STV, barring any machinations Hiebert had described). Carr received 27% of the vote in her riding in 2001, which may not be enough when diluted with neighbouring rural ridings into a single STV riding. And, of course, there's the bruise to her ego, coming after her failed attempt to bring in MMP.

So now Carr is left in the uneasy position of being forced to campaign against a PR system, while begging Gordon Campbell to let her cover her butt and say that a "No" vote does not endorse the status quo. Oh the joy.
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