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Thread: Democratic Renewal Project (DLR) wants to consolidate Alberta’s progressive vote

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    Default Democratic Renewal Project (DLR) wants to consolidate Alberta’s progressive vote

    Despite the stereotype, many Albertans, perhaps even a majority, would like a progressive government that is concerned about helping vulnerable people and protecting the environment. In the last two provincial elections four voters in ten cast their ballots for progressive parties. But this yielded only a handful of Liberal and NDP MLAs and no Greens. These kinds of results have caused many people to believe that only right-wingers can win Alberta elections, and to drop out of political life. All of the progressive parties have small and declining memberships despite the large group of Albertans who support their policies.

    The Democratic Renewal Project (DRP) was formed in 2008 in an effort to unite progressive Albertans, among whom bitter partisans in the past have proved at least as large a barrier to getting a change in government and the direction of government in the province as the ability of the Conservatives and now Wild Rose to garner corporate largesse for their campaigns and disproportionate media attention. The Liberals, the NDP, and the Greens ran on substantially similar platforms in 2004 and 2008, and while there are certainly differences in emphasis and in cultural understandings within these parties, political pragmatism has dictated relatively similar policies.

    While the DRP faces resistance from those who place party above policy, and the success of their individual party candidates above the needs of Albertans, it has also won considerable support within each of the progressive parties for an alliance in the 2012 election. That includes the private support of David Swann, the leader of the Liberal party, and some of his MLAs, as well as the support of many longstanding NDPers and activists in the political Green movement. Such an alliance would not mean a merger of the parties. Rather it would involve the parties being realistic about which party has the best chance in individual ridings that are winnable for a progressive candidate. With the right-wing divided between the Conservatives and Wild Rose, the chances for a single progressive candidate to win in a riding are better than ever. None of the progressive parties has the resources to run successful campaigns in all ridings, in any case. By working together, these parties can better focus their resources on winnable seats and give Albertans the possibility of electing a government committed to tougher environmental standards, an end to homelessness, greater resources devoted to all aspects of health, including mental health, daycare for young families, and programs to address the needs of seniors.

    Some party stalwarts claim that uniting behind one progressive party's candidate in a riding will deprive voters in that riding of the full array of party choices that they have enjoyed in the past. That seems short-sighted. In a province that has had uninterrupted right-wing government for 75 years and where social and environmental programs reflect the failure to elect progressive governments or a large progressive opposition, a real choice for voters would be the chance to either maintain right-wing policy directions or to elect a government committed to other values. Without an agreement among the parties to work together, no such change is possible and any "choices" that the electorate are given are illusory. The almost two-thirds of Albertans who declined to vote in 2008 are well aware of the limited choice that they have in reality.

    The DRP argues that the first-past-the-post system in which the candidate with the most votes within the often arbitrary (and gerrymandered) boundaries of a provincial constituency gets a seat generally misrepresents Albertans' political choices. In 2008, the Conservatives won 87 percent of the legislative seats with 53 percent of the ballots cast across the province. As many people have pointed out, the solution is a system of proportional representation in which the number of seats that a party wins in the legislature is directly proportional to their popular vote. There is however no chance of getting the Conservatives to implement such a system which is clearly against their interests, and Wild Rose opposes PR as well. Only the progressive parties are committed to changing the voting system.

    Many Albertans' first reaction to the DRP idea is that it is too radical. Since when have parties worked together to form a coalition before an election? The answer is that in many democracies, including Germany, Norway, France, Italy, Sweden, India, and much of Latin America, pre-electoral coalitions have become common and have especially worked to the benefit of those who want a government concerned with social justice and a move towards a green economy. Even in Alberta, we had such a coalition of labour and farm parties in the 1920s and early 1930s.

    So far, about 1000 Albertans have joined the DRP. You can join with us in our efforts to persuade the progressive political parties to work together to end right-wing rule by going to our website (drp.ca) and clicking "join DRP," the seventh item on the top left-hand side of the home page. There are no costs to joining with us, and all we ask of all our members is to spread the word. In the same area of our home page, you will be able to click onto our Facebook page or to join our forum. The web pages also have general information about our organization and our activities.

    -- Alvin Finkel,
    Edmonton Co-chair,
    Democratic Renewal Project
    Last edited by NoreneS; 13-05-2010 at 02:07 PM.

  2. #2

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    When people's favourite party can't win because it isn't popular enough, it is easy to blame "the system". It is a weak cop out. No political system is perfect, they all have advantages, and disadvantages. The disadvantages of proporitional systems include creating career list politicians who are accountable to nobody (if a mixed system of lists and seats), or localizing politics to the point where you can't get strong leadership (STV). The advantages of FPP include strong government, and that is seen in the wealth that Alberta has.

    At the next election, we will finally have a choice between two parites per the polls who both have a chance of winning, being the Conservative Party, and the Wild Rose. I'm looking forward to that choice, let the best party with the best ideas win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    The advantages of FPP include strong government, and that is seen in the wealth that Alberta has.
    I fail to see how our representation system has anything to do with the petroleum reserves and natural resources that were in place here well before civilization started.

    I would love to see what ideas the Conservatives and Wild Rose parties have for this province. Hopefully they can announce them before the election.

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    It's sad that the system is broken enough to come to this, but I feel something like this is needed. I have voted strategically in the past, on both the federal and provincial levels and I know many others in my riding did the same. Otherwise, we would still be stuck with Jaffer representing Edmonton-Strathcona.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theblueskin View Post
    It's sad that the system is broken enough to come to this, but I feel something like this is needed.
    Why, because you don't like the party in power, and don't like the second most popular party in Alberta? So because your favourite views are those of the third, or fourth, or fifth most popular party, the voting system has to be changed, to make your views more powerful?

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by theblueskin View Post
    It's sad that the system is broken enough to come to this, but I feel something like this is needed.
    Why, because you don't like the party in power, and don't like the second most popular party in Alberta? So because your favourite views are those of the third, or fourth, or fifth most popular party, the voting system has to be changed, to make your views more powerful?
    No. My problem is with facts like this "the Conservatives won 87 percent of the legislative seats with 53 percent of the ballots cast across the province." I want to see a fair and accurate representation of who and what Albertans actually voted for. With the current system, if you vote for anyone other than the winner, your vote essentially counts for nothing.

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    ^that is the way FPP works. As I posted earlier, there are pros, and cons. A pro is strong government, a weakness is that not all votes are as valuable depending on where you live. PR looks great on paper but it brings with itself a whole bunch of other issues, like extremist minority parties holding the balance of power (often for example, racist right wing anti-immigration parties). When you have MLA's who are only accountable to the 5% or so of the population who voted for them, they can stay in government forever no matter how offensive their views are to the other 95% of the population, it just isn't pleasent to have some racist or bigotted MLAs in government even if that is a more true reflection of the views of some parts of the population.

    And note, given over 50% of Albertan's support either wild rose or the PC party, you may not get what you wish for even with a change of political system as this is a conservative province through and through. We would waste a fortune in disruption yet still end up in the same situation, especially if a system like STV is chosen given how dominant the conservative parties are right across the province both in rural and urban areas. Changing the political system is not suddenly going to make the views of the left wing parties in Alberta popular to voters. If you are incompetent or just plain have idiotic views, just because you can't win under current rules, doesn't mean changing the rules will result in you winning.
    Last edited by moahunter; 13-05-2010 at 10:16 AM.

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    There is nothing democratic about a fraction of the population wielding a disproportionately large percentage of the power. Yes, I admit that it would be a royal pain to change the system, however many voters are frustrated with the current system and it is hurting voter turnout. How can any electoral system work properly if a large percentage of voters are fed up with it and don't even bother to vote. There has to be a better way. I don't have a problem with any particular party being in power. What I do have a problem with is that 47% of voters are being represented by a measly 13% of the seats.

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    ^There is nothing democratic about having a minority party holding power either, having the tail wag the dog (which does happen sometimes in proporitional systems). Somebody has to make the decisions, and I'd rather that be mainstream parties with mainstream views. Like it or not, even if you change the political system to be more proportional in its outcome, as the majority of people in Alberta are conservative, conservatives are still going to be running the province (one of the many reasons I was very happy to move here).

  10. #10

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    Change is definatley needed. Will it ever happen? I cant see it.

    Interesting to note:

    The conservatives had 53% of the vote in 2008.

    However only 41% of eligible Albertans voted in the last election.

    Im not that great at math, but i think that works out to be approximatley 20% of Albertans who voted the ruling party into power.

    Am I the only one who sees a problem with that?
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    I'm not sure whether an MLA is 'Pleasant' to have around is really applicable here Moa.

    Changing the political system will help raise voter turn out as everyone feels like their voice is heard. When living up North, I knew my vote was to be wasted just because the incumbent PC MLA was/is/will win everytime. I feel like my vote means nothing, which in reality it really does.

    We may get to the same solution, with more disruption, but at least it will give the PC's a viable opposition party. The PC's only ended up with 52.7% of the popular vote of a poor voter turn-out election, while receiving 81.9% of the seats. Just because this is a slightly to-the-right Conservative province, doesn't mean they get free-reign and get to shut up the left entirely.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Komrade View Post
    The conservatives had 53% of the vote in 2008.

    However only 41% of eligible Albertans voted in the last election.

    Im not that great at math, but i think that works out to be approximatley 20% of Albertans who voted the ruling party into power.
    The election results match closely to the polls, which tells us that the remaining 59% of voters, if they had cared enough to vote, would have followed the same trend.

    As to people not voting - all I can say, is carry on, your stupidity/laziness makes my vote more valuable.

    As to an opposition party, I am pleased to report that the polls tell us there will be an opposition at the next election, finally, so the democratic system is working fine:

    CALGARY -- Alberta has settled into a new political reality that no longer includes one-party domination, suggests a new opinion poll showing the Progressive Conservatives continuing to fight neck-and-neck with the new Wildrose Alliance.
    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/sto...#ixzz0nq1tp8XY
    Last edited by moahunter; 13-05-2010 at 01:09 PM.

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    ^The liberals recently proposed that voters be given a tax credit (~$50-100). Thoughts?

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    The election results match closely to the polls, which tells us that the remaining 59% of voters, if they had cared enough to vote, would have followed the same trend.

    As to people not voting - all I can say, is carry on, your stupidity/laziness makes my vote more valuable.

    As to an opposition party, I am pleased to report that the polls tell us there will be an opposition at the next election, finally, so the democratic system is working fine:

    CALGARY -- Alberta has settled into a new political reality that no longer includes one-party domination, suggests a new opinion poll showing the Progressive Conservatives continuing to fight neck-and-neck with the new Wildrose Alliance.
    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/sto...#ixzz0nq1tp8XY
    Not necessarily Moa, though that scenario is possible, it is also possible that a lot of left-wing voters just decided not to vote due to the feeling they were wasting their time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roquentin View Post
    ^The liberals recently proposed that voters be given a tax credit (~$50-100). Thoughts?
    A bribe with your own money.

    I would rather see compulsory voting and fines for not doing so. Several countries do this successfully.

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    ^(Devil's adocate mode on) What about the freedom to abstain from voting?

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBear View Post
    Not necessarily Moa, though that scenario is possible, it is also possible that a lot of left-wing voters just decided not to vote due to the feeling they were wasting their time.
    Then why don't left wing parties poll higher? Oh, I know, because left wing voters don't like to answer polls as well...

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    Last election, PC's popular vote was 52.7%. 86.7% of the seats in the Legislature.
    Left wing popular vote was 39.5%; 13.5% of the seats in the Legislature.

    Can't say that is really representative

  19. #19

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    ^so which system are you proposing as an alternative? MMP, which results in career politicians who are accountable to nobody but their tiny segment of population that supports them, or STV which could very well have ended up with a similar result (given that many people who voted Liberal would have picked PC's as second choice)?

    No system is prefectly representaitve. Even if the percentages matched exactly, it still would not represent everybodies view everywhere. That's not what government is about, it is about making decisions and governing, and a political system that encourages the formation of governments who can make decisions, is IMO preferable to a political system that tries to appease everyone, but leaves the mainstream out in the cold at the whim of minoirity parties.
    Last edited by moahunter; 13-05-2010 at 03:16 PM.

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    I have not studied any system, so unfortunately I cannot give you an answer.

    Yes, gov't is about making decisions and governing; but they need to be kept in check and listen to what the ppl want, I mean, isn't it gov't for the ppl, or of the ppl?

    How long have the PC's been in power in this province? I feel like like they are pissing away our wealth, environment, land with incompetent budget making and policies. And they have had absolutely no opposition, or anyone to even think twice about because they form a majority that will never go away with only a meager 52.7% of the popular vote. At least with 52.7%, they would still have a majority, but are close to losing it, as opposed to 86.7% majority

    Sometimes those minority parties ideals/positions overlap on key issues to make a majority. If you are a minority getting no voice at all

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBear View Post
    Yes, gov't is about making decisions and governing; but they need to be kept in check and listen to what the ppl want, I mean, isn't it gov't for the ppl, or of the ppl?
    I agree with you there, and it is why I like FPP - you can actually remove a government from power and let someone else have a go. It has been disapointing that Alberta has been a one party state for to long, and it is very good news that finally per the polls we actually have a viable opposition that could win.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roquentin View Post
    ^(Devil's adocate mode on) What about the freedom to abstain from voting?
    You can reject a ballot, as you have always been able to do. your vote counts, but not for a particular candidate.

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    Quote Originally Posted by moahunter View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by JBear View Post
    Yes, gov't is about making decisions and governing; but they need to be kept in check and listen to what the ppl want, I mean, isn't it gov't for the ppl, or of the ppl?
    I agree with you there, and it is why I like FPP - you can actually remove a government from power and let someone else have a go. It has been disapointing that Alberta has been a one party state for to long, and it is very good news that finally per the polls we actually have a viable opposition that could win.

    Even FPP can, on occasions, throw up some interesting results. For those who's interest in politics stretches a little further than the Legislature in Edmonton, the newly elected UK Con/Lib coalition should prove to be fairly entertaining over the next few years, or more likely, months.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Roquentin View Post
    ^(Devil's adocate mode on) What about the freedom to abstain from voting?
    You can reject a ballot, as you have always been able to do. your vote counts, but not for a particular candidate.

    But you suggested fines for non-voters. That would punish those who abstain for valid reasons (e.g. lack of representation with FPP). Although I wish it wasn't needed, I prefer the idea of using tax-credits to entice people to vote.

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    It will fail. The mass of Albertans is allergic to anything beyond their parochial, generation-old grumpy beyond-conservatism... and I mean allergic in the near-medical sense.

    Choosing between WR and PC is not a choice. One is so far right it's tilting, the other is so far right it's tilted over and is waiting for the train to cut its head off.

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    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    It will fail. The mass of Albertans is allergic to anything beyond their parochial, generation-old grumpy beyond-conservatism... and I mean allergic in the near-medical sense.

    Choosing between WR and PC is not a choice. One is so far right it's tilting, the other is so far right it's tilted over and is waiting for the train to cut its head off.
    ...But it could split the tory vote. Then it could get fun. (If the left can get it's ***** in gear that is ).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roquentin View Post
    But you suggested fines for non-voters. That would punish those who abstain for valid reasons (e.g. lack of representation with FPP). Although I wish it wasn't needed, I prefer the idea of using tax-credits to entice people to vote.
    No, that's like saying 'It's ok to speed since the speed limit should be higher on this road'. Follow the rules, and if you don't like the rules or system have it changed through the proper channels.

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    Quote Originally Posted by andy8244 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by abaka View Post
    It will fail. The mass of Albertans is allergic to anything beyond their parochial, generation-old grumpy beyond-conservatism... and I mean allergic in the near-medical sense.

    Choosing between WR and PC is not a choice. One is so far right it's tilting, the other is so far right it's tilted over and is waiting for the train to cut its head off.
    ...But it could split the tory vote. Then it could get fun. (If the left can get it's ***** in gear that is ).
    We just need another right-wing party that complements the green party to evenly split up the vote lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by nobleea View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Roquentin View Post
    But you suggested fines for non-voters. That would punish those who abstain for valid reasons (e.g. lack of representation with FPP). Although I wish it wasn't needed, I prefer the idea of using tax-credits to entice people to vote.
    No, that's like saying 'It's ok to speed since the speed limit should be higher on this road'. Follow the rules, and if you don't like the rules or system have it changed through the proper channels.

    Speeding is against the law; not voting isn't, nor should it be. But we agree on the main point, which is that voting should be actively encouraged. The DRP is trying to effect positive change in this regard through the proper channels, as you put it, by attempting to gain support for electoral reform. Frankly, I commend them for their efforts, and hope that the left can emerge as a valid source of opposition in our legislature. However, the DRP will need a lot more support if the FPP system is to be changed.
    Last edited by Roquentin; 14-05-2010 at 05:33 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JBear View Post
    We just need another right-wing party that complements the green party to evenly split up the vote lol
    Agreed LMAO
    Last edited by theblueskin; 14-05-2010 at 10:01 AM.

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