Below is a list of commonly-asked questions about MMP. We started this section because there’s a lot of misconceptions and misinformation being tossed around about MMP. It’s ok to disagree with the issues, but it’s important that you have the right information!
Do you have a question that’s not on the list? Then email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll answer your question. The most asked questions will be posted on this site.
Won't this just create more conflict in the Legislature?
With parties only rarely able to form a majority, any government that wants to hold on to power will have to negotiate with other parties for their support. In other countries, this has led to more consensus-building and a less adversarial atmosphere. MMP is in use, in one form or another, in most of the democratic world. Germany and New Zealand both use MMP. Their parliaments typically produce between four and eight parties, none of them extremist, with two large centrist parties as anchors. The same pattern is observed in other PR countries: Ireland, Australia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark all currently have seven parties in their legislatures.
It's true that these systems do not typically produce one-party majority governments. Rather, they tend to be led by multi-party majorities: stable coalitions, which together command the support of a majority of the legislature -- and, unlike the current system, a majority of the voters.
We are going to have more politicians than before!?
Before the Legislature was reduced to 103 seats by Mike Harris, there were 125 MPPs in Ontario. The Citizen Assembly has proposed 129 seats, which would be 22 more seats than we will have in the Oct. 10 election, when the Legislature is being increased to 107 Members. Most jurisdictions have a higher proportion of legislators to serve their constituents. Some experts argue that we are under-served now.
Won't Mixed member proportional just create gridlock with endless minority governments?
We already get minority governments, and they often work well. Studies have shown that minority governments are more productive of major legislation than are majority governments. In a reformed Legislature, parties would form coalitions in order to govern, thus reducing the prospect of gridlock. The coalition style has worked well in New Zealand and Germany, which both have "mixed" systems such as the Citizen Assembly proposes, with a majority of local constituency seats, and a minority of seats elected by proportional representation. Critics often give Israel and Italy as examples of a series of chaotic minority governments created because of proportional representation, but that is just false. Italy and Israel have very unique political histories that have lead to their current situations, moreover, neither country has ever used anything like the mixed system proposed for Ontario, but rather adopted much more extreme forms of PR, with no threshold for support.
Won't there be less representation, as a certain number of MPPs will only represent backroom partisan interests, and not have a geographical constituency?
A mixed system offers more representation since those "List" MPs who do not have constituencies get assigned to work in the seats their party did not win. This means that voters can appeal to their elected local MPP for assistance, or may turn to the List MPP assigned by another party. Voters will have a choice.
How will this increase the presence of women and minority MPPs?
The "mixed" system proposed by the Ontario Citizen's Assembly will include 39 "list" seats and 90 constituency seats elected as usual. Once a party has won its constituency seats, its total will be "topped up" by a number of list seats, according to the party's share of the popular vote. Candidates on the lists will have been chosen by the parties, possibly at party nominating conventions, to represent the team intended to attract voters. Parties will want to use the lists to reach out to voters who traditionally have been under-represented--women, visible minorities and aboriginals. So, the list seats will increase the number of women and minorities elected, better representing the actual makeup of the population.
How is it more democratic if MPPs are being parachuted in?
Seventy per cent of MPPs will be locally elected, as they are now. The remaining 30 per cent will be elected too, only they will be elected off party lists. They will represent voters at large, and will be freer to represent all Ontarians, not just their constituencies. Typically, at-large representatives will open constituency offices in their own region to provide an alternative to the riding representatives from other parties. In others words, voters in a region could choose to contact their riding representative or an at-large representative from their own party to help with problems or discuss issues.
Some at-large representatives may also have strong skills or expertise in a particular policy area and focus on legislative committee work. Others may focus on serving particular groups of Ontarians who are not concentrated in any one riding or region.
If the List MPPs are chosen by their parties, won't this just enhance the power of the back-room boys?
Party leaders' promises of democratic nominations for MMP candidates contradict critics of change who falsely allege otherwise. Province-wide nomination conventions to elect list candidates, will empower delegates rather than backroom party honchos, and no modern-day party would dare present a party list that was not representative of Ontario's cultural diversity. Hear what the party leaders have been saying:
John Tory, Leader, Ontario PC Party (National Post, September 25, 2007): "The Conservative leader went on to say that if the referendum passes, his party will likely find a democratic way to develop its list of candidates:'The history of our party is that the party insists on choosing its candidates democratically.'"
Howard Hampton, Leader, Ontario New Democratic Party (Ontario Today, CBC Radio, September 26, 2007) "We believe we should nominate the at-large candidates according to a very democratic process. We would want to ensure we have more women, more visible minority candidates, more First Nations candidates...a lot of people who make up the Ontario mosaic."
Frank de Jong, Leader, Green Party of Ontario (GPO press release, September 27,2 007): "Democracy extends to choosing candidates in a transparent and equitable manner...We are committed to using a transparent and equitable process to produce a slate of qualified Green candidates who accurately reflect Ontario's diverse population."
Furthermore, the Citizens' Assembly recommended that List MPPs be chosen by a transparent process, and that parties must demonstrate the selection was fair and transparent to the Chief Elections Officer. In Ontario, the three major party leaders have committed themselves to the election of more women. They are not likely to permit their backroom boys to put up lists of all white male professionals.
What is the 3% threshold about?
Parties must receive at least 3% of the party vote in order to qualify for at-large seats in the legislature. New and innovative parties with a growing base of voter support will be able to qualify, while tiny fringe parties will not.
If my region has fewer ridings will it then have less clout at Queen's Park?
With the proposed MMP system, all voters in all regions will have more, better and stronger representation than ever before. Voters in all regions will be represented by both riding representatives and at-large representatives.
Under the current system, parties can and often do ignore certain regions because they cannot get enough votes in that region to win a riding seat. Under MMP, every party is motivated to attract every possible vote in every region, in order to gain more at-large seats. Every party will be motivated to have at-large candidates from all regions, and after the election, assign at-large representatives to serve regions where they have not won riding seats. This means voters in all regions will have access to elected representatives from all parties who need votes in that particular region. This means better and stronger representation for all voters and all regions.