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Learning Phase, Week 2

The Assembly members' "Learning Phase" was divided into six weekends of study, plus homework reading.

Handouts provided to members and presentations from the second weekend of their Learning Phase, January 24-25, 2004, can be downloaded here:

Session 1: Elections, Representation and Parliaments

Handout (Word, 81K) (PDF, 164K)


Session 2: Parties and Party Competition

Handout (Word, 122K) (PDF, 228K)


Session 3: Canadian experience

Handout (Word, 198K) (PDF, 351K)


This was the agenda for the second weekend, January 24-25:


Saturday January 24 

Morning: Elections, Representation and Parliaments

Parliamentary government
- Elections and representative assemblies
- Assemblies and parliamentary government
- The idea of ‘responsible’ government
- Actual and potential functions of the  legislature
- Variety of roles for an elected member

Keeping government open and accountable
- Rise of disciplined parliamentary parties
- Effects of government domination of parliament
- Scrutiny of legislation and the activities of government
- Consequences of coalition and minority government
- Debates over parliamentary reform
- Electoral systems and parliamentary consequences

Discussion Groups

* What should representative assemblies represent?
* How should parliamentary government work?
* What should be expected from members of parliament?
* What are benefits/costs of coalition and minority governments?

Afternoon: Parties and Party Competition

Parties, elections and parliament
- Mass politics and the rise of parties
- Party and coherent choices at elections
- Parliamentary parties and government
- Party discipline

Parties as organizations
- Parties, ideology, programs and policies
- Intraparty democracy
- Party and the recruitment of candidates

The number of parties and the party system
- Two party competition and the nature of electoral choice
- Competition between more than two parties
- New parties and independents

Discussion Groups

* Are parties essential for electoral choice?
* What are the costs/benefits of party discipline?
* How should candidates be recruited for elections?

Sunday January 25 

Morning: Canadian Experience

Electoral experimentation
- Multi-member districts, alternative voting formulas
- Block voting
- Western provinces experiences with STV, AV
- BC’s experiment in the 1950s
- Modest (and declining) participation rates
- Increasing equality of district size

Coalitions and minority governments
- Coalition experience and practice
- Minority government
Contemporary electoral reform initiatives
-  Wrong winners,
- Oversized governments,
- Two-party oligopolies
- Minority under-representation
- Wasted votes
- Quebec, PEI, New Brunswick, Ontario

Discussion Groups

* Examine ballots (FPTP, STV & AV) used in Canada & consider alternate outcomes
* The logic of aggregation (artificial majorities)
* Are there wasted votes?
* Explore how maps shape seat shares (equality)
* Questions and discussion of presentation         

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