Sunday, January 18, 2009

Rossi supports one member, one vote

I can't find an online version, but in an article by John Geddes in the dead-tree edition of Maclean's, incoming Liberal national director Rocco Rossi indicates support for a one-member, one vote method of leadership selection:

"The most important part," he told Maclean's, "is to give meaning to party membership." For instance, he'd like to see the party eventually drop its old delegated convention system for picking leaders in favour of one member, one vote -- the method adopted in recent years by the Tories and NDP. That Rocco is willing to speak-out on such a contentious issue when there's no formal move afoot to change the party's leadership selection rules, and before more Liberals have even learned his name, is revealing.

An encouraging signal for those Liberals, such as myself, that favour OMOV and and end to a delageted convention system that weakens the grassroots voice.

I'll sound one note of caution though, as I always do when discussing OMOV. Pure OMOV would be a negative as Toronto ridings with large memberships would swamp rural ridings with small memberships. Weighted OMOV, where a point system is employed to ensure each riding is weighted equally, is the way to go.

Under such a system, each riding would be given, let's say, 100 leadership votes. Those votes would be broken down based on the vote of their members. So if 75 per cent of riding members vote for candidate A and 25 per cent for Candidate B, that riding would cast 75 votes for A and 25 for B. In that way, Scarborough-Centre and Skeena-Bulkley Valley would have an equal say.

With pure OMOV, the danger is rural ridings become powerless given their small membership numbers, and leadership candidates spend all their time campaigning and speaking to the issues of the large urban ridings in Toronto and Montreal.

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Skinny Dipper said...

Most federal and provincial parties that have one member-one vote use a weighted system involving the ridings.

Jeff said...

I know it was a major point of contention during the Alliance/PC merger talks. McKay insisted on a weighted system so their small eastern ridings weren't swamped by the large Alberta membership of the Alliance, while the old Reformers wanted pure OMOV. They compromised on a weighted system, but IIRC there have been moves afoot in Con land to end the weighting. It may have been on the agenda at their Winnipeg convention, not sure if it went anywhere.

Ted Betts said...

How would it work then when there is no majority winner after the vote?

I'm not sure how weighted OMOV is really different than what we have. Each riding has the same value in that it chooses the same number of delegates and, at least on the first ballot, each candidate gets its direct proportional vote (same as your Candidate A getting 75% and Candidate B getting 25%). The difference being that Canadidate A's 75% gets translated into 75% of the delegates from that riding.

But since the delegate is locked into that vote on the first ballot, what would the difference be from what you are proposing?


Jeff said...

Ted, I should have added it would be a preferential ballot. So if no candidate receives 50%+1, the last place candidate is dropped, and their ballots are recounted based on the second-place vote. Repeat as necessary.

You hit on the key difference: delegates are only bound to their declared choice in the first ballot. Even if their candidate remains, they're free agents second-ballot on and could flip if they want.

A weighted OMOV preferential ballot system ensures the wider membership has a fuller say beyond the first ballot, and takes into account their second-choice support if necessary, leading to a leader with a broader base of support than a delegated system would deliver, and more reflective of the membership at large, not just those that can afford to get to convention.