Press release No. 2 - Report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the voting system - Characteristics of the compensatory mixed system: the Chief Electoral Officer illustrates different options



    QUEBEC, Dec. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - In his report on the compensatory mixed
system, the Chief Electoral Officer of Québec illustrates, with the help of
simulations and analyses, the various results that may ensue from the
different ways of designing and applying this voting system. What
characteristics make it possible to attain the greatest proportionality? How
is it possible to promote the representation of small parties? Does the choice
of a voting system have an impact on the representation of regions or on the
number of women likely to be elected? These are the types of questions that
the Chief Electoral Officer and the associated specialists endeavoured to
answer.
    "The application of a theoretical model constitutes undoubtedly the most
"specialized" and certainly the most "arid" part of our report, emphasized
Mr. Marcel Blanchet, Chief Electoral Officer, but it is also the part that
allows us to obtain neutral and impartial insight on the impacts of the
various paths that the National Assembly could take, if it were to decide to
change the voting system."

    Compensatory mixed system: compensating for the lack of proportionality
    of the plurality system

    Québec's debate on the voting system stems from the finding that in the
past, some general elections have given rise to results that did not
necessarily correspond to the votes cast across Québec by electors. This was
notably the case when the party elected to govern Québec was not the one that
obtained the greatest number of votes at the national level or when a party
having obtained a significant percentage of the votes cast wound up with very
few elected members. A way of correcting this type of situation would be to
adopt a compensatory mixed system, where a portion of the members are elected
by the plurality system (as is currently the case in Québec) and where the
remaining seats are filled according to the rules of proportional
representation "using the list system". These latter seats compensate for the
lack of proportionality of the majority system.
    For the purposes of his report, and in accordance with the mandate
conferred by the government, the Chief Electoral Officer examined three types
of compensation:

    
    - compensation at the national level: compensatory seats are attributed
      according to the total percentage of votes obtained at the national
      level by each party, by drawing from a national list of candidates,
      without the seats being distributed regionally;

    - national compensation with regional redistribution: it is the votes
      obtained by a party at the national level which make it possible to
      determine the number of compensation seats that this party will
      receive, with these compensation seats then being distributed
      regionally based on the percentage of votes obtained by the party in
      each of the regions;

    - regional compensation: in this case, the territory is divided into a
      certain number of regions and it is at this level that the number of
      compensation seats to which each of the parties will be entitled is
      calculated, based on the results obtained at the regional level (and
      not all across Québec).

    It should be recalled that of the 27 countries that switched electoral
system in recent past, seven switched from a majority system comparable to
that of Québec to a mixed-type system between 1993 and 2004.

    The "theoretical" Québec of statistical simulations

    To evaluate the impact of a compensatory mixed system, the Chief Electoral
Officer and his partners made simulations on the basis of theoretical
situations, but which realistically could exist here in Québec. The tested
models present the following "theoretical" Québec:

    - There is a population of 8 million people with 6 million electors;

    - There are 127 elected members, with 77 division members elected
      according to the traditional majority system and 50 "list members"
      elected according to a compensatory mixed system;

    - The compensation seats and the division seats are distributed
      according to four possible delimitations, namely in 9 regions having
      an equal population, 9 regions having a population that is not equal,
      17 regions or 26 regions;

    - There were two election scenarios, during which 10 political parties
      sought to win the favour of the electorate: 600 candidates ran in
      these elections, 360 as "division candidates" and 240 as "list
      candidates".

    - These two electoral scenarios produced two "election nights" during
      which the political parties obtained various results;

    - For each of both elections, the compensation lists were drawn up by
      alternating male and female candidacies, and then without resorting
      to such an alternation;

    - The two scenarios considered two alternate situations, one where
      electors voted once, and the other where they voted twice. In this
      latter case, the aim of the first vote was to elect a division
      candidate and that of the second vote to elect a list candidate;

    - Different representation thresholds were also tested during the two
      elections. A party had to obtain 2%, 3% or 5% of the votes to have
      access to the compensation seats and to elect one or more list
      members;

    - Three calculation methods were also applied during the two fictional
      polls for the allocation of compensation seats;

    - Both electoral scenarios considered three types of compensation.

    Once the parameters of the model had been set, the Institut de la
statistique du Québec proceeded with the various simulations.

    A few results...

    The objective of the statistical simulations was to see what type of
effects could be produced by a compensatory mixed poll, depending on the
choices made when this poll had been configured. Indeed, the simulations show
that the various options produce different situations:

    - National compensation and national compensation with regional
      redistribution produce more proportional results (results that better
      correspond to the votes cast) than does regional compensation. This
      observation is in line with the fact that a small number of
      compensation regions produces more proportional results. National
      compensation, owing to the fact that it has only one electoral
      region, is therefore the one which offers the most proportional
      results.

    - As the number of regions for compensation purposes increases, small
      parties become ever less favoured. The 26-region delimitation
      scenario is the one that is the least favourable to small parties.
      Conversely, the "nine-region" scenarios are more advantageous for
      small political parties, while the map having only one region is the
      one that most favours their representation although in these two
      cases, we note few differences.

    - The way of calculating the attribution of compensation seats has an
      impact on the proportionality of the results. Of the three
      mathematical scenarios tested by statisticians, the Hare method
      (described on page 18 of the report) is the one that produces the
      most proportional results and that most favours the representation of
      small parties.

    - As the representation threshold goes up, the results become less
      proportional. The distortion of the voting results is three times
      greater with a threshold of 5% than it is with a threshold of 2%.
      Moreover, a lower threshold makes it easier for small parties to have
      access to Parliament, since "the bar is lower" for having a first
      candidate elected.

    - A two-vote poll favours small parties. Indeed, it is not unusual for
      electors to first choose a division candidate belonging to a
      political party, with their second vote going to a list candidate of
      a different party. Moreover, the election of list candidates from
      small parties, within the context of a two-vote system, makes the
      general result of the poll more proportional.

    - The alternation of male and female candidacies on the lists of
      parties has a direct effect on the representation of women, an effect
      that is accentuated if parties are required to put a female candidate
      at the top of one out of every two lists.
    

    The report of the Chief Electoral Officer on the characteristics of a
compensatory mixed member voting system is available on the website of the
Chief Electoral Officer at the following address: www.electionsquebec.qc.ca.
    -%SU: CPN
    -%RE: 1




For further information:

For further information: Denis Dion, Information officer, (418)
644-3320, 1-888-870-3320, ddion@dgeq.qc.ca

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