BC STV is Dead, Long Live Electoral Reform!
Status quo reigns in BC today. The Liberals are in, STV is out, and the question most British Columbians are asking today is, “will the Canucks ever bring the Stanley Cup home?”
I’m not sure about the “truthiness” of that last statement, but I can’t resist a punch line, especially when I’m bummed.
BC’s voters have spoken, and have roundly rejected BC-STV. This time, unlike in 2005, when it missed its 60 % super-majority hurdle by an agonizingly close 2%, a true majority (of the voters who turned out) has won its day.
It is a system that I believed in and endorsed. But, let’s face it, marketing this one to the masses was a tough row to hoe. Though both sides had a lot to work with, “No-STV” had the advantage.
There are reasons for the system’s poor showing; its inability to be easily understood; experienced pundits overseeing its opposition; inability to get the vote out in a broad way, or maybe the idea of cooperative government was generally taken by people to mean an icky coalition government.
The deciding factor for this referendum was that the majority of people who voted were comfortable enough with the present first-past-the-post system that they prefer it to something unfamiliar. The incredibly lopsided results of ’96 and ’01 are two elections behind us, leaving us with the much more acceptable yet moderately skewed results of 2009.
I don’t believe, as Christy Clark facetiously remarked, “people must be very happy with the present system. Even Bill Tieleman, the outspoken No to STV president, alluded to some other breed of electoral reform at some vague point in the future.
The movement for electoral reform had been quietly growing in the years before the Citizen’s Assembly for Electoral Reform was created. The events and resulting community building of the last four years has awakened, amongst a broad group of people, the idea that there are other electoral systems in existence than the one we all grew up with. After only an hour of the final result, members of the STV for BC Facebook group were talking about bringing this to the municipal level.
Though I am disappointed, if this recent push helped plant the seeds of electoral reform in more Canadians’ minds, and should the resulting discussion organically develop into of an organized movement, I could be happy with that.