on electoral reform, it’s trudeau’s way or the highway

[transcript below]

Wow, his previous job experience as a drama teacher is really paying off right now. I actually believe that he actually believes that Canada is better served with a smaller number of larger political parties instead of a larger number of smaller political parties. He comes from a political dynasty, with a father having served as prime minister. He comes from a party that has governed the country for at least half of all its history, and he believes it’s done quite well, thankyouverymuch.Read More »

i emailed 183 members of parliament. this is how they responded.

On 18 May 2017, I emailed each of Canada’s 183 Liberal members of parliament. The emails addressed the member personally (e.g. “Dear Mr. Aldrag”) but were otherwise identical. The subject line read: “I support ERRE recommendations – please vote YES on May 31st”. The text provided reasons why the member should vote ‘yes’ to concur with the recommendations of the all-party committee on electoral reform that were published on 1 December 2016.

The four charts below summarise their response as of 28 May.

Explanation of response types:Read More »

imagine me and eu

Midsummer garden party under the auspices of an EU flag | Photo: probably my colleague Thomas

Here’s a secret: I’m obsessed with Facebook’s On This Day blasts to the past. It’s narcissism, but so is reading old diaries, right? So seven years ago last week I was in Germany for the first time and my 20-year-old self was blown away by the ultra-coolness that was Berlin. I’m not going to romanticise it into a “and at that moment I knew I would be back” thing, but it sure was the perfect icing on my exchange semester cake. (Carrot cake. Obviously.)

Many years ago a Canadian friend opined, with innocent gravity after his cliche of a summer trip backpacking through Europe:

Europe changes lives.

The statement itself is a cliche as well but it keeps cropping up, even among my friends now who are 30 rather than 20 years old who are on the continent for the first time. Because it’s true! I don’t know if Europeans can appreciate what a special place this is.Read More »

my canadian politics rap

Beat by Element Productions (at 110% tempo)
Lyrics my own

i wanna be clear: we had ten years full of darkness
that’s a decade of fear to divide, scare and part us
the story of harper’s reign starts in 2006
with a minority of electoral picks
it was a picture of false majority in 2011
thank single member plurality, westminster inheritance
it was a total blow, ranking as a low form of penance
a road to thought control for which we supposedly votedRead More »

[update] but he has promises to keep

[updates on progress, if any, as of Jan 2017]

Top policy promises by Justin Trudeau that I look forward to seeing him keep:

  1. BROKEN: Introduce electoral reform, based on recommendations from an all-party committee, within 18 months
  2. Launch a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women
  3. Bring back the long-form census
  4. Implement all recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  5. End bomb raids in Syria
  6. Scrap the purchase of F-35 fighter jets: however, 18 new jets (Super Hornets) were purchased as an interim solution until the gov’t decides what to actually replace the existing CF-18s with
  7. Repeal Bill C-24: some aspects have been repealed, incl. revocation of citizenship for terrorism/on national security grounds, and a new amending bill C-6 has been introduced, proposing i.a. revocation of citizenship in cases of fraud/misinformation, and to limit language requirement to 18-54 y.o. applicants. More: https://openparliament.ca/bills/42-1/C-6/?tab=mentions
  8. Form a gender-balanced cabinet of 25 members: (30 members, close enough)
  9. Ensure safe drinking water on First Nations reserves within 5 years
  10. Cancel income splitting
  11. Quadruple federal spending in public transit over the next decade
  12. Repeal the “problematic elements” of Bill C-51

I will be striking through these items as he gets ’em done.


Am 15. Februar fand die Bürgerschaftswahl in Hamburg statt. Da ich auf die lokale Zeitungen und deutsche Nachrichten selten aufpasse, kenne ich die besondere wirtschaftliche, soziale und politische Themen dieser Wahl fast gar nicht. Das heißt, zu der Politik habe ich nichts zu sagen. Trotzdem liebe ich Wahlen, sogar wenn ich keine Stimme habe. Dann kann ich den Wahlkampf objektiver analysieren.

Was interessiert mich sehr sind die Wahlplakate. Ein großer Unterschied zwischen Deutschland und Kanada (mein Heimatland) ist es, hier gibt’s politische Plakate immer und überall, egal ob es eine Wahl gibt! Wenn es keine Wahl gibt, gehen die Plakate zumeist um Bürgerversammlungstermine oder ähnlich.

Also, hier meine grobe Bemerkungen:

1. ‘Hamburg weiter vorn’ mit dem derzeitigen Bürgermeister Olaf Scholz ist mühelos die ‘baller’-ste Wahlplakate aller Zeiten (insbesondere das schwarz-weiß Bild, das ihn nur vom Mund abwärts zeigt):

IMG_7970photoRead More »

vote swap and plurality rule in a representative democracy

I’m putting this online on the very off-chance someone will read this (1st challenge), have an idea of how to form it into a thesis question (2nd challenge) and leave me a comment (3rd challenge):

I’m interested in electoral systems and voting rules in general. As you probably know, the plurality rule in a multi-district country can produce some interesting results that may not be desired in a representative democracy – for example, a false majority or a Condorcet loser.

These results have been observed in the past three decades in Canadian provincial and federal elections. In response, citizen initiatives have sprung up: not only referenda for electoral reform, but also grassroots voter initiatives with the aim of preventing false majorities.

I’m particularly interested in a strategy of vote swapping, which goes beyond strategic voting. The idea is to strategically pair up with a voter in another district and swap votes with them, and the strategic pairing means one of the two votes will count towards voting someone into parliament. Compare this to sincere voting, where both votes may be wasted, and strategic voting, where you are not voting for your most preferred candidate/party.

How it works is that a swing district voter (Voter A) whose first choice is not in the top two of her own district is paired up with a non-swing district voter (Voter B) whose first choice is in the top two of that swing district. Voter A agrees to vote for B’s first choice if B votes for A’s first choice.

Vote swapping is a citizens’ initiative that has appeared in the 2011 and 2008 Canadian federal elections as a second-best response to the undesired results of first-past-the-post, in the absence of electoral reform. One of the volunteer organisations, called Pair Vote, pairs people up online. In last year’s federal elections, there were over 7500 voters registered and a recorded 3500 votes swapped, not including unrecorded swaps and swaps done over different channels. Proponents argue it has been a game changer in deciding some districts.

The strategy contains elements of gerrymandering, as voters who feel their vote doesn’t count because of the first-past-the-post system alter, in a sense, their district.

This phenomenon appears to be a practice of non-binding commitments and trust.

Another interesting question is under what circumstances voters would prefer vote swap to strategic voting. In other words, is vote swap a Pareto optimal strategy? Possibly, if certain rules and assumptions are made: at a minimum, the exclusion of Conservative voters, and that non-Conservative voters have a general preference of ABC (Anything But Conservative).