Posts Tagged ‘proportional representation’

Herding Cats–Small Political Parties

When times get tough, political parties proliferate – 30s Germany had over 50! Everybody had an opinion and nobody could agree – or apparently, compromise. Things haven’t gotten that bad here, yet, but the signs are clear. For the first time in living memory, people are talking about declining their ballot and there is even a party called NOTA, None Of The Above. Given that the big three (or four) show no sign of relaxing their stranglehold on THE SYSTEM, which as I described in previous posts, is, IMO, the real governing party in a one party state. The SYSTEM tries to seduce the rest of us to vote for it in its three guises. Many do so unwittingly. But since the SYSTEM caters to itself instead of the little people, those on the outside feel estranged and start looking for alternatives. Thus we arrive at the cat herders dilemma.

When our cat goes awol, we go to the door, shake a bag of treats and soon the cat appears. This is what the SYSTEM does – promise treats, even if it can’t deliver.

Getting cats into a herd is almost impossible. Can you imagine Libertarians and Communists trying to agree on anything? Or the Christian Heritage Party agreeing with the Marijuana Party? What to do?

Either you have to trick the cats into following a charismatic leader, fight it out like dogs, or you have to come up with a system to share power through negotiations or other means. Hitler chose other means.  Since my kids tell me my charisma value is zero I have to work on the third idea – coming up with a system to share power.

Looking around, one can find coalitions in the parliaments of many countries. Parties form, then coalesce into a larger unit. Many think the Greens and NDP will coalesce. Or the NDP and Liberals.

I would like to propose a system for giving the small groups a better shot at gettincg a seat. We all know the largest party by far in Ontario today, is the party of non-voters. But if they behave like cats, we will never get anywhere. The 2014 election sports about 20 parties. So if the 50% non-voting block splits into that many parties, nobody will be able to unseat THE SYSTEM’s contenders. Do the numbers. Only if folks can hold their nose and vote for a single alternative candidate can we hope for success.

I therefore propose a rutting system, similar to Moose ruts, where males, or in this case, parties jockey for position by means of raising funds or memberships. Whoever raises the most funds/members for a congress, gets to be the candidate in that riding. Same thing in other ridings. Under this system, 100 ridings might be represented by candidates from 3 or 4 parties, who will all run under one banner, lets call it the Smorgasbord Party, SP. So SP might field 100 candidates, split evenly or otherwise amongst Libertarians, Freedom Party, Family Coalition, NOTA and The People’s Party.

What about the platform? People assume this will be the biggest stumbling block, which is what I’m trying to avoid with this proposal. Which I why I gave it the temporary name of Smorgasbord. Initially at least, there would be no requirement for party cohesion. Really there is no need unless one assumes that the Smorgasbord would actually become the governing party–an unlikely outcome I’ll come to later. So the Smorgasbordians go to Queens Park and advocate, each MPP according to his original political affiliation. Smorgasbordians will vote for and against other Smorgasbordians. I see nothing wrong with this. In fact it is healthy and I’d expect Smorgasbordians to potentially hold balance of power in minority governments, giving them great opportunity to bring long suppressed concerns to light.

If you’re thinking this is simply a form of MMP (mixed member proportional) system that was advocated in the 2007 referendum, well, guilty as charged. It was a great shame that this proposal was rammed past the people in haste. On purpose? So THEY can blame the people for their own misfortune?

Cats (Smorgasbordians) should not aspire to run the joint. It should only aspire to hold the government’s feet to the fire with respect to folks who cannot join the SYSTEM. They should aspire simply to stop THE SYSTEM from running roughshod over little people ie. by passing regulations, as they often do, that only members of the SYSTEM can meet. Small town butchers have almost gone extinct in this way since a govt inspector must witness the slaughter of any cow. Thus large packers processing hundreds of cows a day have squeezed out the little guy – again.

The difficulty of course will be to get the cats, the small parties to agree to work within such a system. Another difficulty will be to get the kittens, us voters, to support SP even if one’s local candidate runs counter to one’s political disposition, on the premise that such support will morph to another riding where the platform does represent one’s views. If the cat voter gives up, all is lost, so there is much incentive to make it work.

Yes, no?  Whaddya think?

Yer curmudgeonly scribe.