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Submission SALMI-1668 (Online)

Submission By Olli Salmi
AddressTaivassalo, , Finland
CategoryElectoral system change
'A View from Finland'  Comments, suggestions and links to material on MMP electoral systems  [2 pages]

Submission Content
A view from Finland

It's nice that the Citizen's Assembly has decided to endorse proportional elections, but I'm a bit worried. How can they make a sensible decision when there's so little written in English on party list systems?

If British Columbia decides to use MMP, I hope you choose the Bavarian system which has open party lists.  I noticed that MMP was criticized for combining first-past-the-post with closed lists. That is not at all necessary, because it's quite possible to have the open lists. Besides, the first-past-the-post element in MMP is cosmetic, because constituency candidates usually stand on the party lists.

Here's a very short description of the Bavarian system , just in case.  The link in the posting to the electoral law and regulations is now dead and the site has moved to this URL:

They are in German, of course.

Open lists are most easily handled with the Finnish system of blank ballots and single non-transferable vote within lists. Each candidate is numbered and you write the number of your candidate on the ballot. The system can handle municipal elections in Helsinki with 80 seats and nearly 1000 candidates. Here's an image of our ballot paper, which can be counted simply by piling up. The ballots are folded, stamped and inserted into the ballot box. Envelopes are not used.

We have information on the candidates in a reference sheet or schedule posted on the wall of the polling booth. Here's part of one:

It looks like a German ballot paper.

I don't know what happens in Bavaria, but with the Finnish system of open lists, the parties try to find well-known independents to stand on their lists. Many of these candidates are good, because they have experience outside the party machine, although there are people who don't agree with me.

To ensure local representation I would personally prefer multimember districts to MMP. If they are of different sizes, a possibility is Friedrich Pukelsheim's biproportional system ('Double Pukelsheim'), which is being introduced in Zurich. It has no problems with overhang seats. There's nothing much on it in English, though, and it's probably not relevant in British Columbia, but BAZI, the Java election result calculator on Dr. Pukelsheim's site is useful. It can calculate the results of most systems.

Proportional representation can easily be watered down by a high threshold. The high effective threshold of STV unfortunately has the same result.

I've hesitated to write this because it's none of my business, but I feel important things may have been overlooked. It's a momentous decision if you start using PR in North America, especially if it's a party list system.

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