Vision Vancouver councillor Andrea Reimer left the Green party in October 2007, in part because of the Greens’ support for the single transferable vote.
"Most of us who were opposed to it either left or are significantly diminished in involvement," Reimer told the Straight in an April 17 phone interview. "It is an extremely crass political decision....They felt it was far more important to get one person elected than it was to get good policies made by any party that might be in government."
Reimer, who has a keen interest in electoral reform, prefers a mixed-member proportional system, known as MMP, which results in the election of candidates both on a constituency basis and from party lists.
The candidates on the lists would be added to the legislature to ensure that each party had proportional representation. Her preference is a system in which half the MLAs were elected in constituencies, with the other half chosen from the party lists.
“I’m a big supporter of moving to something that allows people’s vote to be accurately reflected proportionally in the number of seats a party has in the legislature,” Reimer said. “STV does not accomplish that. It can in some circumstances, but those circumstances generally don’t exist in the form it has been designed. And it’s certainly not intended to produce those circumstances.”
Under the B.C.-STV proposal that will go to a referendum in the May 12 election, candidates would be elected in 20 large districts, each with between two to seven members.
Voters would rank candidates to ensure that second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and possibly even seventh preferences might be taken into account in determining who is elected.
“No jurisdiction that has had STV has ever moved on to MMP,” Reimer said. “I have had arguments put to me that this is another step in the process, but it’s not. It’s the dead end of electoral systems.”
She added that she also has “serious concerns” about how female and minority candidates would fare under a B.C.-STV system. “Like our at-large system here in Vancouver, STV hugely rewards candidates based on name recognition,” she said. “That comes from either money or existing entrenchment in a power structure. Those people tend not to be women or minority candidates. You could overcome it with some very serious financing reform, but again, that’s not proposed as a part of this.”
Her third major objection to STV is that it sacrifices an enormous amount of local representation to obtain what she described as “incremental gains in proportionality”.
“With MMP, the most you would have given up is doubling the size of your riding as opposed to increasing it by four or five or seven times,” Reimer said. “And you’re guaranteed proportionality whereas with STV, it’s a complete mathematical crapshoot. The experience of people in Ireland and Malta and Australia is that crapshoot hasn’t worked out well for them. The Greens continue to struggle. Their representation in the Australian Senate is nowhere near their proportion of votes, nor is it in Malta or Ireland.”
She added that two major parties have dominated all three jurisdictions for quite a long time “not because they receive huge amounts of support, but because the system favours them”.