Should the NDP support Alternative vote?

In the UK, the Lib-Dem agreed to enter a formal coalition with the Conservatives. One of the conditions was to hold a referendum on a reform of the electoral system. Namely, the switch from the current first-past-the-post (that we also have in Canada) to the alternative vote, also known as instant run-off. In this system, if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes, we eliminate all but the two candidates and redistribute the votes according to the second choices (of course, it means that your ballot is slightly different. Indeed, you can rank your candidates). Since we have the second choices from every Ekos poll, we can run a simulation.

I already ran such a simulation of how things would be if Canada had this system here. However, with the recent NDP's surge, I think it is worth revisiting. On top of that, as with first choices, second choises can change throughout the campaign. Therefore an update is maybe necessary. On top of that, I'm guessing some new readers of this blog didn't get the chance to see the first post.

So let's talk about the second choices. I'm using the latest Ekos poll, but I then have to adjust and make some calculations for the second choices for the Bloc. Indeed, Ekos only provides us with the second choices nationally. It means for instance that while only 2.7% of Liberals voters identified the Bloc as their second option, we know these 2.7% all come from Quebec. Here are these second choices for Quebec and the ROC (Rest of Canada - term usually used in Canada for every province except Quebec).

Second

Quebec

First Choice

CPC

LPC

NDP

Green

Bloc

CPC

-

10.3%

15.4%

10.5%

10.2%

LPC

15.9%

-

27.1%

19.6%

13.9%

NDP

21.3%

46.9%

-

22.9%

40.1%

Green

8.3%

13.1%

16.8%

-

16.0%

Bloc

10.7%

14.5%

24.4%

23.5%

-

other

1.7%

1.2%

0.1%

2.8%

1.0%

none

42.0%

14.0%

16.1%

20.7%

18.8%

Second

ROC

First choice

CPC

LPC

NDP

Green

Bloc

CPC

-

12.0%

20.4%

13.8%

-

LPC

17.8%

-

35.9%

25.6%

-

NDP

23.9%

54.9%

-

29.9%

-

Green

9.3%

15.3%

22.2%

-

-

Bloc

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

0.0%

-

other

1.9%

1.4%

0.1%

3.7%

-

none

47.1%

16.3%

21.4%

27.1%

-


One think that is quite amazing is that the NDP is actually the main second choice of EVERY other party (excluded the "none" category of course and the Green in Quebec)! That answers the questions we had in some comments on this blog last week: yes people can "jump" directly from the Tories to the NDP, without passing by the Liberals case.

What this means is that the NDP has a huge pool of potential voters. We always hear the a lot of NDP voters switch to the Liberals at the end of the campaign (which is probably partially true), but we have here evidence of the other side of this effect. Therefore, with the AV electoral system, the NDP would naturaly be favoured, as this system is all about getting second choices.

So let's compare the seats projections.

seats

CPC

LPC

NDP

Green

Bloc

current

146

73

49

0

40

AV

130

78

67

0

33

share

42%

25%

22%

0%

11%


A couple of things to take from this table. First of all, notice how the share of seats is very close to the share of votes (the % are almost identical to the ones used for the "latest" projections on the right column of this blog). Yes the Tories get a little more than their "fair" share, so does the Bloc thanks to regional concentration of its votes, but overall, the AV system would result to a very proportional system (except for the Green). By the way, the redistribution would be necessary in 193 ridings.

Secondly, you can see the NDP would clearly be the winner of this reform. If you want to see where these seats are coming from, here is the pdf. Please note I haven't scaled the percentages to sum up to 100% (to take into account that some voters have no second choices) as it doesn't change the winner of the riding. Of the 18 new seats for the NDP, 12 are in Quebec.

The Bloc to some extent and the Conservatives mostly would be the losers of such a reform (they would really be under the threat of "coalition" NDP-LPC). Of course, this simulation assumes that people wouldn't vote differently under the new system, which is quite a strong assumption.

So should the NDP push for such a reform? I personnally would prefer the introduction of a german-like system, with the compensation operating at the province-level (for those of you who know the system). But we have to admit that the AV system woud probably be good for the party of Jack Layton. Although, a true proportional system for this party would insure that gains would be less dependent on Quebec only.

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