Tuesday, June 03, 2008

More Blah, Blah, Blah About Electoral Reform

Hat tip to Liberals For Electoral Reform for this link. It is a Canadian Press story about the post mortem done on the past referendum on MMP, in Ontario. For the most part it is a straightforward analysis of what happened. The powers that be organized a clever "ignore this and it will go away" strategy that minimized discussion or education around the issue. Faced with little information and warnings of the dire consequences of deviating from the status quo, the Ontario electorate chose the status quo.

That's all water under the bridge, as they say, but I am a little intrigued by the last part of the article:
Although another referendum may be a long way off, the McGuinty government will strike a select committee on electoral reform next week. No major changes will be considered, but the committee will look at encouraging voter turnout after only 52 per cent of Ontario residents voted in the last election.
Can you imagine the message to the electorate in the next campaign? "Come out and vote. Sure, you know it is a useless exercise unless you vote for one of the two big parties, but hey, it's a diversion from your sorry excuse for a life. Right?" As for me, I will be encouraging people to take a pass on the next Ontario election. My slogan will be "11% in 11". Let the parties spin that kind of turnout into a mandate.
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1 comment:

  1. The biggest problem with taking any government initiative to referendum is that without a massive expenditure in an attempt to educate the public and convince them this change is important, most people will alway vote status quo.

    This can be accomplished two ways:

    1. Organized grassroots/activist communities go out there and do the pavement pounding which is necessary. This is a lot of work, but if they actually believe in it, they will do it. In general, this leads to large rallies, and people going out to the rural areas where the vote against the referendum is strongest. While there were organized groups online, from my friends on the ground in Ontario, very little was done to do physical groundwork in promoting the yes vote.

    2. The government (or a private group of investors) can throw a lot of public (private) funds into a large-scale public education campaign. This is seen when the referendum is desired by either the ruling party or a group of rich investors. None of which existed for the last referendum.

    Again, there was a lot of minor ground work to try to push the MMP idea, and a lot of web work, but at the end of the day, no one was willing to put in the time/money/physical effort necessary to get the MMP vote through. The government didn't spend anything on an education campaign, and no grassroots group did anything of significant note off the internet. (At least nothing that really caught the public eye.)

    Personally, I think that is why it failed, and why it will fail if put to referendum in the future.