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#abpoli #ableg is proposing, among other things, to remove or increase donation and spending caps for elections in Alberta.

The "rationale" is that this will make elections more "fair." Research strongly suggests otherwise: a thread
This study looks at where candidates in the US get their $$ from. Higher individual contributions = more extreme, or polarized candidates getting elected

journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.108…
Constraining corporate contributions = increases other corporate expenses, such as lobbying.

Translate that to #abpoli, and I'd expect that unfettered group spending in municipal elections will = a lot of corporate money dropped into the campaign

link.springer.com/article/10.100…
This study shows that effective regulation to minimize contributions of corporations and unions actually works to mitigate their influence.

liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.10…
Combine the ^TWO^ studies above together, and it raises an obvious question: why would a government want to give organized interests with a LOT of money unfettered spending ability in an election?

It's not about fairness. It's about stacking the deck and the discourse
The effect of this $$ extend to how moderate candidates react to the interests attached to large donations.

This doesn't necessarily mean that moderate candidates will be more open to campaigns and policies put forward by well-resourced groups, but....

papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
Research also shows that, at least in #yyc, developer money dominates municipal politics and it doesn't level field

ojs.unbc.ca/index.php/cpsr…
In sum, lots of research confirms these proposed changes to campaign finance in #abpoli #ableg will probably have bad effects on democracy.

But what about allowing for referendums? cbc.ca/news/canada/ed…
On the pro side of things, one of the big complaints about holding a lot of referenda is that voters will get fatigued, not turn out, and the results will be skewed badly as a result.
Evidence from Switzerland - where they use referenda A LOT -- suggests this concern isn't much of an issue.

sciencedirect.com/science/articl…
Bigger issues for me are:

1) the content of referenda is dependent on government priorities & their assessment of the "public interest." I have little faith this would be used sincerely. Much more likely to be a partisan tool
2) Referenda are very expensive to run

3) Combine 1 and 2, and it looks like an inefficient way to get cover for policies that, tbh, a government should just own up to as choices they made
Don't get me wrong: a referendum is great when we need to decide an existential question. This is why folks have them for constitutional amendments.
But, we've got good reason to think this process could be abused, or at least dominated by pretty fringe interests.

This one, from 22 Minutes during the 2000 federal election is hilarious precisely b/c it shows this so well

Research also shows that ballot initiatives don't have much effect on the congruence between public opinion and policy (i.e. voting on referenda doesn't make policy more weird or extreme).

journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.117…
I'm not persuaded AT ALL this means we should be doing way more of them.

Ultimately, that comes down to how someone wants to be represented. For me, that means I want elected representatives to 1) seriously engage in sincere & open-minded public consultation, so that
2) those representatives can develop policy that addresses and ameliorates problems across a community's diversity, while also

3) being able to defend WHY they choose those policies, so that

4) voters can hold them accountable at the next election.
I see these proposals for referenda, and worry they will pervert that process of democratic accountability.

Anyway, if you want to read more about options re: representation, the best primer is here: plato.stanford.edu/entries/politi…
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