Canada: British Columbia unveils its proposed question for voters in electoral-reform referendum | The Globe and Mail

British Columbians who participate in an electoral-reform referendum this fall would first be asked whether they want to switch to proportional representation, and then to rank three specific PR systems, the province’s Attorney-General said Wednesday. David Eby said the referendum would be conducted by mail-in ballot, with the campaign to begin July 1 and a voting period to run from Oct. 22 to Nov. 30. But opponents were quick to criticize the vote as overly complicated and to seize on what remains unknown, including what the district boundaries would look like under PR. Mr. Eby’s recommendations still must be approved by cabinet, but he said starting the campaign in less than four weeks can be done.

Italy: 5-Stars denounce new election bill as undemocratic | Associated Press

The lower chamber of Italy’s Parliament on Wednesday approved the first pieces of a new election law that aims to make the country more governable by encouraging coalition-building, especially among smaller parties. Major parties on the left and right are backing the law, which calls for a combination of seats assigned by a majority system based on colleges and proportional voting. But it is bitterly opposed by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, Italy’s largest opposition party in Parliament. It has denounced the proposed law as undemocratic.

Germany: How does the German general election work? | Deutsche Welle

Germany has a notoriously complex voting system for electing its Bundestag, or lower house. The system seeks to combine the benefits of both direct and proportional representation while guarding against the electoral mistakes of German history, which saw political fragmentation during the Weimar Republic between WWI and WWII. The 2009 and 2013 parliamentary elections saw a significant drop in German voter turnout to around 70 percent, but with the rise of the populist movement that draws on non-voters in all democratic states, the numbers are expected to rise this year. This year, 61.5 million people age 18 and above are eligible to vote in the national election, according to figures from Germany’s Federal Statistics Office. Of those, 31.7 million are women and 29.8 million are men with some 3 million first-time voters. Over a third of Germany’s voters – 22 million – are over 60 years old, meaning the older generation often has particular sway over the election outcome.

New Zealand: Advance voting begins in closely fought New Zealand election | The Washington Post

Advance voting began Monday for New Zealand’s general election, which could see a change of government in the South Pacific nation for the first time in nine years. Election officials say just over 3 million voters are enrolled for the Sept. 23 election, in the country of nearly 5 million people. Opinion polls indicate it will be a close race between the conservative National Party, led by Prime Minister Bill English, and the liberal Labour Party, led by Jacinda Ardern. Six weeks ago the conservatives were comfortably ahead in the polls and appeared to be coasting to a fourth consecutive victory. But then the Labour Party leader quit and 37-year-old Ardern took the reins, sparking a rapid rise in the party’s fortunes that some are calling “Jacindamania.”

India: First-past-post: House panel asks parties if election system should change | The Indian Express

Initiating what could be the first structured discussion on the issue, an all-party Parliamentary panel is exploring “different systems of elections”, other than the first-past-the-post (FPTP) system that is currently followed in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. Citing “apprehensions” that the FPTP may not be the “best suited system”, as “evident” from the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election results, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, headed by Congress leader Anand Sharma, has sent a six-page “Questionnaire on Electoral Reforms” to all parties and the Election Commission. “There are different systems of elections — like first-past-the-post (FPTP), list system (open list and closed system), proportional representation, ranked or preferential voting, and mixed systems. In our country we follow FPTP for Parliament and Legislative Assemblies’ elections and proportional representation for the election of President…What is your view in the matter and please also suggest the alternative system, if any,” says the questionnaire.

United Kingdom: Tactical voting surged in general election as voters tried to ‘game’ system, research finds | The Independent

Voters switched party allegiances at unprecedented rates in the general election as they tried to game the failing electoral system, according to voting reform campaigners. Elections are now more like lottery than a real choice with 22 million votes cast in June having no impact on the result, the Electoral Reform Society (ERS) found. It branded the June vote the “hold your nose” election after an estimated 6.5 million people made tactical decisions and said the Conservatives could have won a majority if just 0.0016 per cent of voters had chosen differently. The first-past-the-post system is exaggerating divisions because of the huge discrepancy in the number of votes cast in an area for a party and the number of seats it wins and a new system must now be introduced, the ERS said.

France: In address before parliament at Versailles, Macron Calls for Changes to France’s Parliament, Voting | AFP

In his first address to members of the National Assembly and Senate since his election in May, Macron delivered a US-style state of the nation speech in the Versailles palace, the former seat of French kings, saying the country must change. “Until now, we were too often on the wrong track,” said the 39-year-old leader, who won office on a promise of political renewal. “We preferred procedures to results, rules to initiative, a society where you live off inherited wealth, to a just society.” He confirmed a plan to implement reform of France’s jaded political system, changes first raised during campaigning. That would include shrinking the number of lawmakers in both houses of parliament — 577 in the lower house National Assembly and 348 in the Senate — by a third, saying it would have “positive effects on the general quality of parliamentary work”.

Italy: Renzi Says Parties Agree on Proportional Electoral Law | VoA News

Former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Tuesday that Italy’s largest parties agree on the need for a proportional representation electoral system and that a law to adapt it should be enacted in the first week of July. Renzi’s confirmation of the position of the ruling center-left Democratic Party (PD), of which he is head, raised the chances of an early national election before one is due to be held in May 2018, political commentators said. Some commentators said an approval of a new electoral law in early July would raise the chances of an unprecedented autumn parliamentary vote, perhaps as early as September. Italy has never had a parliamentary election later than June.

Bulgaria: Ruling party to table legislation to introduce majoritarian election system | The Sofia Globe

The first legislation that Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party will table in the Parliament elected in March this year will be to introduce a majoritarian system for electing MPs, parliamentary group leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov said. Tsvetanov was speaking on the weekend after Borissov returned to power as Prime Minister, at the head of a coalition government of GERB and the nationalist United Patriots. Tabling a bill on a majoritarian voting system was a fulfilment of a commitment made by GERB at the end of the previous legislature as well as its promises during the campaign ahead of the March 2017 elections, Tsvetanov said.

Canada: Report suggests big changes for Vancouver’s local elections | The Globe and Mail

Vancouver should move to a proportional-representation system for its civic elections, allow immigrants who aren’t yet citizens to vote and place tighter controls on campaign finance, including asking councillors to excuse themselves from decisions that involve their donors, says an independent report commissioned by the city. The report, which will be considered by council on Tuesday, proposes widespread changes to local elections, which have suffered from poor turnout in recent years as the amount of money spent by campaigns skyrocketed. Politicians in the city have also faced increasing scrutiny over council approvals of projects whose developers are among the largest donors to the city’s political parties. However, the city could not implement any of those changes without the support of the provincial government, which has previously been reluctant to tighten campaign-finance rules, either at the local or provincial levels.

Canada: P.E.I. Votes In Support Of New Provincial Electoral System | The Canadian Press

A non-binding plebiscite on electoral reform in Prince Edward Island has shown voters support a switch to a form of proportional representation. Mixed member proportional representation was the most popular option, drawing more than half of the votes after ballots were counted and redistributed five times according to the rules of preferential voting. Islanders were given five options to chose from, including an option to keep the current first-past-the-post system. Voters were asked to rank some or all of the options on a one-to-five scale. If no electoral system received more than half the votes, the option with the fewest votes was eliminated and those ballots redistributed to their second-choice option. That process was repeated until one option passed the 50 per cent threshold to achieve majority support.

Australia: Buggy vote-counting software borks Australian election | The Register

The body overseeing elections in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) has acknowledged researchers’ claims of a bug in the software it uses to count votes. The NSW Electoral Commission (NSWEC) has corrected an error detected and described by researchers Andrew Conway and Vanessa Teague, and verified by computer science academics from the University of Melbourne and the Australian National University. The bug relates to extrapolation of voting patterns, a technique used in some Australian jurisdictions where a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system is used. Voters’ second preference candidate can secure a vote if the first preference has already been elected to a chamber using proportional representation.

Canada: Trudeau government creating committee to study electoral reform and replace first-past-the-post system | National Post

The Trudeau government is creating a long-awaited special parliamentary committee on electoral reform and proposing to hold town halls in every riding to discuss the issue. “We deserve broad, representative politics, a stable government and an opportunity to shape our democracy,” Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef said in announcing the plan. “That’s why our government is determined to meet our commitment that 2015 was the last election to use a first-past-the-post system.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised during last fall’s election campaign to create a committee to examine electoral alternatives and report back with recommendations within 18 months.

Thailand: New charter perpetuates army’s power | The Manila Times

A panel appointed by Thailand’s military junta on Tuesday unveiled a draft Constitution touted as a solution to the kingdom’s decade-long political crisis, but derided by critics as undemocratic and divisive. Thailand has been controlled by the army since a 2014 coup overthrew the elected government of Yingluck Shinawatra, whose billionaire family has swept the last three elections but are hated by the Bangkok elite. If the charter is ratified, it will perpetuate the military’s influence. A junta-appointed Senate would check the powers of lawmakers for a five-year transitional period following elections. It also enshrines a proportional voting system, a move that would likely reduce the majority of any government once Thais regain the right to vote.

Australia: Labor, independents unhappy with new voting rules for Northern Territory | ABC

Controversial changes to voting rules in the Northern Territory have passed Parliament, less than six months before Territorians head to the polls. The changes, which the Opposition Labor Party says are a ploy by the ruling Country Liberals Party (CLP) to remain in power, have seen the introduction of optional preferential voting. Optional preferential voting means voters can number as few as a single box when voting, instead of filling out all preferences. Chief Minister Adam Giles told Parliament this would help combat the high rate of informal votes in remote areas.

Canada: Liberals’ no-referendum stance on electoral reform appears to soften | Ottawa Citizen

Another Liberal MP responsible for electoral reform won’t absolutely rule out a national referendum to change how Canadians vote. “It’s not something that we’re ruling in or ruling out,” Mark Holland, parliamentary secretary to Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef, told reporters Wednesday. His remark follows a recent, similar comment from Monsef. Compare that with the statement by Government House Leader Dominic Leblanc in late December that seemed to categorically reject the possibility: “Our plan is not to have a national referendum. Our plan is to use Parliament to consult Canadians,” said Leblanc. “That’s always been our plan, and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”

Editorials: Want to rewrite Canadian democracy? Hold a referendum | The Globe and Mail

For as long as there’s been a Canada, Canadians have voted according to what’s known as first-past-the-post. Each voter gets one vote, and each electoral district gets one member of Parliament. In each of Canada’s 338 federal districts, the candidate who has the greatest number of “X”s beside their name wins, and becomes the MP. In last fall’s election, the Liberal Party promised to scrap this system: “We are committed,” says the platform, “to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.” The Liberals didn’t say what they would put in its place, only that the system that has been around since Confederation is so unacceptable it has to be quickly be replaced with something – anything.

Canada: Federal Liberals rule out referendum on electoral reform — despite recent precedent | National Post

Justin Trudeau and his party swept into power in October’s election on a series of big promises, including a pledge 2015 would mark the last election under first-past-the-post. Since the Liberals have formed government, enacting some of those plans — whether it’s a pledge to bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees or withdraw fighter jets from the battle against Syria — is turning out to be harder than expected. Now, the sunny plan to create a more democratic democracy is casting a shadow over those lofty ambitions. Despite calls from both the left and right that any changes to how Canadians elect their government require the direct input of the people, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said Sunday that’s not in the cards. “Our plan is not to have a national referendum, our plan is to use parliament to consult Canadians,” Leblanc said during an interview on CTV’s Question Period. “That’s always been our plan and I don’t have any reason to think that’s been changed.”

Canada: Conservatives vow to block electoral reform without referendum | The Globe and Mail

The Conservative Party is vowing to use any means necessary, including a Senate blockade, to keep the Liberal government from forcing through electoral-reform legislation without first holding a referendum. “The entire Conservative caucus, both in the House and the Senate, will be opposing any radical changes to the electoral system without a referendum” Don Plett, the Conservative Whip in the Senate, said in an interview Wednesday. “We would look at all avenues” to stop such a bill, interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose said. “My hope is that the Liberals will come to their senses.” The Conservatives are up in arms over a recent declaration by Liberal House Leader Dominic LeBlanc that electoral reform, which would replace the existing first-past-the-post system of electing MPs with some form of proportional representation or a ranked ballot, will simply be passed as a law by Parliament.

Editorials: Trudeau must turf first-past-the-post system once and for all | Kelly Carmichael/National Observer

In the 2015 election, the Liberal Party committed to a platform they called “Make Every Vote Count.” Now, they are poised to embark on a process that could make Canada fairer and more inclusive for all voters. The stakes couldn’t be higher for democracy. So what’s the problem we’re trying to fix? On October 19, over 9,000,000 voters (51.8 per cent) were unable to make their vote count and elect a representative to bring their voices to Ottawa. The country elected a majority Liberal government, but as usual did so with less than a majority of the vote (39.5 per cent). Most Liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan, New Democrats and Conservatives in Toronto and Atlantic Canada— and Greens nearly everywhere— elected no representation to Parliament. That’s a big problem. When your vote means nothing, it disempowers citizens and breeds disdain for democracy— and widespread apathy.

Canada: Time will tell if Trudeau is free enough from party shackles to pursue electoral reform: Hébert | Toronto Star

It is not just Justin Trudeau’s opposition rivals who were — as the prime minister indelicately put it in a recent interview — left in the dust on election night, a generation of old-school Liberal insiders was, too. For most of the new Liberals in the House of Commons, the names of the party’s veteran power brokers ring only distant bells. Many party fixtures on Parliament Hill are unknown to the new movers-and-shakers of the Trudeau cabinet. The ghosts of a recent Liberal past still haunt the halls of Parliament but they are, for the most part, rattling their chains outside the corridors of power, with few or no IOUs to collect on. Some used to make themselves indispensable by smoothing the Liberal path to well-heeled donors. But such go-between services became obsolete after Jean Chrétien banned corporate donations a bit more than a decade ago.

South Korea: Saenuri offers a concession on electoral map | Korea JoongAng Daily

The ruling party drafted a proposal to cut equal number of electoral districts in the rival provinces of Gyeongsang and Jeolla to resolve deadlocked negotiation over a new constituency map, the JoongAng Ilbo learned Sunday. The JoongAng Ilbo obtained an internal document from the ruling Saenuri Party on Sunday and confirmed the proposal with a senior party official. According to the plan, the Saenuri Party will propose to the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) that Gyeongsang, the Saenuri stronghold, and Jeolla, an NPAD stronghold, will each lose two seats. Eight seats in Gwangju Metropolitan City, an NPAD stronghold, will remain unchanged.

South Korea: Failed redistricting causes confusion for political newcomers | The Korea Times

Ruling and opposition parties failed to meet the legal deadline to redraw the electoral map Friday, causing trouble for political candidates planning to debut in next year’s general election. Talks on redrawing constituencies are likely to drag into next year due to the rival parties’ disagreements on whether to decrease the number of those elected under proportional representation. With four weeks before preliminary candidate registration on Dec. 15, potential newcomers may be put at a disadvantage in launching their campaigns, say critics. They are expected to have difficulty choosing their constituencies because they will not be sure where they should register for the election, scheduled for April 13, 2016.

Editorials: How will Canada vote next time? | The Record

Of all the promises Justin Trudeau made before this week’s federal election, the promise to change how Canadians vote may come back to haunt him most. If he ignores it, the Liberal Party leader and soon-to-be-prime minister will be accused of breaking his word. If he keeps it, the majority government he just won may be his last. Trudeau and the Liberals are still celebrating their sweeping victory in Monday’s vote that left them in control of the House of Commons with 184 out of 338 MPs. But in order to carve out that 54 per cent majority in the House of Commons, the Liberals needed only 39.5 per cent of the votes cast. What’s being called a landslide win would look very different if the proportion of votes the Liberals captured translated precisely into the number of seats they hold in Parliament. Were such an electoral system in place, the Liberals would today hold 134 seats in the House of Commons — more than anyone else but far short of the commanding majority they now enjoy. And that, to state the obvious, would mean Trudeau would lead a far more unstable government that would need support from at least one other party to implement even some of the Liberal agenda and would have no guarantee of governing for even two more years, far less four.

Canada: Electoral reform looms for Canada, Justin Trudeau promises | Toronto Star

Big electoral changes loom for Canada. Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has promised that Monday’s election would be the final one ever conducted using the traditional first-past-the-post system. That means the “winner-takes-all” way Canadian voters have always elected their MPs will be changed in time for the 2019 federal campaign. “It was one of our commitments that this would be the last election based on this process,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday. “We have much work to do, to consult, to be engaged with Canadians, to study the issue so that upcoming elections are indeed done in a different way,” he said in French. Trudeau made his comments even though his Liberals won 184 seats in the 338-member Commons — or 54.4 per cent — with just 39.5 per cent of the popular vote.

Nepal: Amid Protests, Nepal Adopts Constitution | The New York Times

After nearly a decade of delay marked by haggling and political infighting, Nepal formally adopted a constitution on Sunday, with President Ram Baran Yadav calling the moment a realization of “the continuous democratic movements initiated by Nepalese people” after he signed the document. Yet the process that led to the adoption of the Constitution, intended to bring much needed unity to the impoverished, fractious Himalayan nation, proved divisive and was attended by paralyzing strikes and violence that led to more than 40 deaths. The Constitution aims to reinforce Nepal as a secular, democratic republic with a provision for the protection of religion, and establishes seven provinces. Its passage is the latest chapter in a turbulent history that includes a bloody civil war, the overthrow of the 239-year-old monarchy and a devastating earthquake in April that killed thousands and left thousands more homeless.

Canada: Electoral reform back in the spotlight | Toronto Star

The Kiwis do it. So do the Germans and Scots. Now Kelly Carmichael is hopeful that after years of study, debate and political promises, Canada may be on the brink of doing it, too. “It” is electoral reform, putting in place a voting system that ensures the makeup of Parliament better reflects the ballots cast. Indeed, the October election could be the last federal election using the first-past-the-post system as both Liberals and NDP have vowed changes to how Canadians elect their MPs. “I have to say we are pretty hopeful,” said Carmichael, the executive director of Fair Vote Canada, which advocates for electoral reform.

Canada: Voting system and Senate need referendum | Paris Star

On Monday, Tory MP Pierre Poilievre announced a re-elected Conservative government would pass a law to prevent any future government from changing the voting system without a referendum. The NDP wants to bring in proportional representation, electing some MPs from party lists to make the House of Commons more representative. The Liberals want ranked ballots — where second choices are counted in — but say they would have a parliamentary committee consider both ideas. Neither party has promised a referendum on the change, and the Conservatives think that’s bad. “Both Justin Trudeau and the NDP say they will revolutionize how Canadians elect their government and neither is willing to give the Canadians a say in the matter,” Poilievre said.

Ukraine: Critics say new election law doesn’t advance democracy | Kyiv Post

Parliament on July 14 approved new local election rules via a bill that introduces elements of proportional representation in elections to municipal and regional councils, and two-round elections for mayors of large cities. Although not explicitly required by the International Monetary Fund and other Western donors, the legislation is nonetheless a key component of Kyiv’s plan to decentralize government by delegating more power and functions to regional and local governments. However, the bill also specifies that the elections, which are scheduled for Oct. 25, won’t take place in the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, or in the Russian-annexed Ukrainian territory of Crimea.

National: The ‘One Person, One Vote’ Case Relies On Statistics That Nobody Has | FiveThirtyEight

“One person, one vote” is a deceptively simple promise, but a Texas woman wants to clarify which persons count. On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Evenwel v. Abbott, a suit that challenges exactly who should be counted as a person when states draw their district boundaries in pursuit of proportional representation.The plaintiffs are challenging the usual method (counting total number of people living in a district) and are asking that states use the total number of eligible voters instead. The trouble is, we don’t have robust statistics on the number of eligible voters. If the Supreme Court were to set new standards for districting, we would need to overhaul the nation’s statistics and surveys.