Friday, September 18, 2009

A big coup for Swan

A couple of potentially significant endorsements for Andrew Swan came in today. One was from Ron Evans, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Potentially even bigger, though, is The Pas MLA (and former OCN chief) Frank Whitehead. As previously noted, the recent by-election campaign there led to a large number of members being signed up, which means that the riding is eligible for over a hundred delegates. The thing is, the way delegates are selected is by block voting, which works much the same way school trustees are elected in most places. So if the riding is eligible for, say, 20 delegates, as a voter you would mark up to twenty of the delegate candidates. Since the campaign for each candidate will likely field a slate, the likely result will be a winner-take-all situation, so that all 20 delegates will be supporters of the most popular candidate. It thus ends up being somewhat like the electoral college system for choosing the US president. So this could have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the convention, though not necessarily decisive.

On the other hand, it's far from clear whether they will be able to find as many delegates as they're eligible for, and it's possible that depending on who actually shows up at their delegate selection meeting (you're not likely to get a thousand people to come to the meeting), the members who actually attend might favour one of the other candidates. So while the effect will be significant, it's less clear who this will favour, though the odds probably favour Swan taking that riding.

In future leadership races I'd like to see this changed, perhaps by using the single transferable vote method to elect delegates. That way there'd be more proportionate results. I wonder if there will be any appetite for this at the next provincial convention?

Incidentally, this seems to be the first wrong prediction that Don't Eat Yellow Snow has made so far; here he had picked Whitehead to back Selinger.

Selinger did pick up a couple of notable supporters today as well; according to this article Fort Rouge/East Fort Garry city councillor Jenny Gerbasi and former provincial cabinet minister Muriel Smith have endorsed him.

Edit: Endless Spin Cycle has crunched the numbers, concluding that there will be around 1400 delegates in total at the convention, including the "superdelegates", giving a magic number of 700. So it's unlikely that anyone will win this on the first ballot in any case.

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