Rural-Urban Proportional: Bringing a new, creative model to the table
Jean-Pierre Kingsley’s Suggestion
This produced proportional results in the cities where STV was used, but disproportional results everywhere else. Because there were so many single member ridings, the overall results were still quite distorted. (The story ends that the politicians in the governing party in Alberta got rid of PR-STV in cities because it was electing too many opposition members).
While this proposal to tailor PR for urban and rural areas has tremendous potential as a Canadian solution, as noted above, without adaptation it has a few significant problems:
Voters in the cities would be able to elect representation of their choice while voters in the rural areas would be stuck with a single MP elected by winner-take-all
The overall results in the House would still be distorted
- A party that tends to win more rural ridings would have an advantage
Rural-Urban Proportional builds on Kingsley’s suggestion and makes it proportional.
Here’s how it works:
1) Multi-member ridings in the urban areas (which could be elected with a ranked ballot – STV – or an open list)
3) A small layer of regional top up seats to make the overall results in the region proportional (an idea borrowed from Sweden, where these are called “adjustment seats).
Rural-Urban Proportional takes what many people like about PR-STV (multi-member ridings and voter choice) and what many people like about MMP (single member ridings in sparsely populated areas and compensatory seats) and creates a made-in-Canada solution.
With Rural-Urban Proportional, because the multi-member ridings in the cities are already proportional, we would only need about 15% regional top-up MPs.
This means the rural ridings would only need to become 15% bigger. Or, rural ridings could keep the same boundaries/size they have today by adding only 15% new MPs to the House.
With MMP by comparison, you need at least 38% top up seats to achieve proportionality, meaning that all ridings must become 60% bigger. With STV ridings are grouped together. Rural-Urban Proportional provides an option that may well be appreciated by MPs and voters who live in what are already geographically large ridings.
In the rural and small urban riding which remain single member, Rural-Urban Proportional Representation means that just like MMP, a voter who was unable to elect a local MP of his/her choice would be represented by regional MPs who share that voters’ values.
- Rural-Urban Proportional is a highly proportional model – as or more proportional than MMP and STV
- Rural-Urban Proportional is tailored to our geography
- Every voter – rural and urban – will have a choice of representatives – almost everyone will elect an MP who reflects his/her values
- A simple, user-friendly ballot (a ranked ballot in all ridings, or an open list in urban areas and first-past-the-post in rural areas).
In a 20 member region, about 3 MPs would be regional MPs. They could be elected one of two ways:
1) The regional top up MPs could be the best runners up in local ridings for the parties (and their voters) who deserve top-up seats. This “best runners up” model is used with MMP in Baden-Württemberg , Germany. The advantage is simplicity for the voter.
2) The regional top up MPs could be elected on an open list, just like with MMP – you choose a candidate from the list of the party of your choice. MP(s) elected will be the most popular individuals on the party list.
Rural-Urban Proportional is flexible.
There is no prescribed number of single member ridings. There can be only a small number of single member ridings in our most rural and northern areas, with most MPs elected in multi-member districts (in rural areas, these might be districts of two). We would call this option “STV+“. Or this model can keep about 25% of the ridings in Canada (about 85) as single member ridings.
Of course, with PR, when people know their votes will count, they vote differently. Countries with PR also have higher voter turnout. So while you can’t predict election results with a new model, what you can do with any model is find out how proportional a model is with different possible voter patterns.
In this simulation, Rural-Urban Proportional gets a Gallagher Score of 3.87. The Gallagher Index is what political scientists use to measure how proportional results are. A low score means highly proportional. Denmark’s elections score a 1. A high score means very disproportional – Canadian and Australian elections (winner-take-all) score between a 10 and 12. Scotland (with MMP) and Ireland (with STV) both scored about a 6 in their last election.
The point is: Rural-Urban Proportional is very proportional.
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