Tuesday, May 05, 2009

STV In B.C.: Those Who Forget The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It?

An interesting if overlong anti-STV piece from RK at the Western Standard. The good stuff comes at the front, and consists mostly of telling the story behind B.C.s 1952 and 1953 elections, in which a form of STV was employed. Two take-home lessons:

1) STV (at least some versions) can give very strange results. In 1952:

This system had been designed to enable the Conservative and Liberal parties to keep the socialist Co-operative Commonwealth Federation out of power. Unexpectedly, this enabled Social Credit to win the largest number of seats with the benefit of second-preference ballots from CCF voters.

RK thinks this is a negative feature. Since the 1952 election gave rise to W.A.C Bennett and ages of SoCred domination, I suppose he has a point.

2) On the other hand, the 1953 result proves that it is possible to achieve a parliamentary majority under (some version of) the STV system:

The minority government formed in 1952 by the conservative Social Credit of Premier W.A.C. Bennett lasted only nine months before new elections were called. Social Credit was re-elected with a majority in the legislature to a second term in government with almost 38% of the popular vote.

So maybe, if one fear is that STV shall produce indecisive minority after indecisive minority, then that fear too is overblown.

In any case, I am surprised B.C.'s previous experience has been entirely left out of the current debate.


Chrystal Ocean said...

The Western Standard is wrong. This argument has already been debunked in several places.

The single transferable vote was NOT used in the cases sited. It was the Alternative Vote - preferential ballot, but applied to single-member constituencies. AV is another winner-take-all, single member plurality system; like FPTP but even worse.

Unknown said...

A better take would be to look at the Manitoba Elections in 1953 where they actually used a single transferable vote:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manitoba_general_election,_1953 (it used a mix of STV and AV)

There the parties switch away from STV because they were afraid of the social credit,

Chrystal Ocean said...

See also the response from a fellow WS blogger.