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Voting Systems

This post was originally a comment for article Growth is OK if it is shared?

James, Oh that we in Canada had a preferential voting system! That would have been optimum. We could have launched a third party and directed our energy and support toward it, and then marked the miscreant social-democrats as our second preference. Yeah, that just might have worked. I am a partisan of the direct democracy we see in many Amercan states. This is how it can work positively. In Washington State, Democrat supporters wanted to re-elect the Democratic Party for its promise to continue education, welfare, health care and day care funding. The Republicans promised to cut taxes, ie. slash all those programs. But they also promised to stop nuclear power expansion. Democratic supporters also vehemently opposed nuclear power. But the Democratic Governor, Dixie Lee Ray, was a strong supporter of it and promised to push for it. What to do ? In Canada, if you were centre-left, you would either have to vote Democrat and see more nuclear power plants, or break with your party, vote Republican, see a moratorium on nuclear, but a cut on social programs. Either or. In Washington State, however,like 15 other states, they have provision for referenda. You can remain a good Democrat, vote for your party, support it on all of its planks, but one. On that one you disagree with, you can step outside of the party and participate, argue and debate in a referendum the results of which are imposed on a willing or unwillingly legislature. To launch a referendum, all you need do is gather enough signatures on a petition with the question phrased in any way you wish it. In Washington State, Democrats were able to relect the Democrats and their platform of increased social spending. But they used the referendum to vote down Dixie Lee Ray's nuclear agenda. We could do the same thing to any Labor, Green or NDP government. We could support them for the things which we voted for, and work against them for those things which hurt us. eg. privatisation and economic and population growth. All we need is an electoral mechanism like referenda to do it. Proportional representation, as favoured by Greens, does not address the problem. It only speaks to the distribution of power between political parties. Direct democracy speaks to the distribution of power between politicians and voters. That's why elitists prefer "representative democracy". US style direct democracy cannot be accepted without amendments of course. There, lobby groups and special interests pour millions into a campaign and distort the results. With spending limits and controls, however, direct democracy is just the ticket for an era where people are much better informed and educated. That's my recipe for improvement.