Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Foregone conclusions

Mark beats me to the punch in commenting on the news that the Cons' contracted-out (and already-slanted) consultation on democratic reform will be handled by the right-wing Frontier Centre for Public Policy. But it looks like the choice is even worse than it appears at first glance.

Mark fairly notes that not all right-wing groups are generally opposed to PR in principle, and suggests that the contract may thus not be a bad sign on its face. Unfortunately, though, while some right-wingers may support (or at least be somewhat open to) PR, the Frontier Centre doesn't seem to fall into that category.

Note first the Centre's interview with Senator Mac Harb (which is one of its few pieces of material on the topic for which it's now supposed to administer national consultations), where it goes out of its way to point out the perceived downside of the proposal:
FC: Some countries like New Zealand and Germany have replaced the “first past the post” system with Parliaments proportioned partially according to the percentage of votes a party receives. Do you support that?

MH: It’s an interesting question. I think that we should have a debate on that; perhaps a combination of the two is an option that should be entertained. I am personally of the view that mandatory voting should go first and then you should debate the rest.

FC: After recent elections, both New Zealand and Germany have failed to elect a government and had to go into prolonged negotiations to establish some kind of coalition government. Is our system any better?

MH: That’s the downfall of having proportional representation, though, that you rarely end up with a clear majority government. Therefore it create problems.
And for added fun, the Centre also reprints a number of articles from other sources which bash PR even more directly, and sponsored an event featuring the leader of New Zealand's anti-PR movement. Which suggests that if the fix wasn't in before, it certainly seems to be now.

As another point of interest, the Frontier Centre goes out of its way to congratulate itself for (a) not seeking government funding, and (b) having a diversified funding base rather than relying too much on any one source. (See the puppet icon at bottom of the left column on each page.) In that light, one has to wonder whether a six-figure federal contract will represent a major single source of funding for the group - and whether it may only have been waiting for a more favourable government in charge before seeking to support itself through public money.

Update: Alison has more on the Frontier Centre.

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